15 Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas Cruise Reviews for Holiday Cruises to Caribbean - Western

We were very excited to join the royal loyal following of RCI only to be met with disappointment after disappointment on this, our first (and possibly last) cruise with RCI. This was not only the Christmas cruise but it was our honeymoon ... Read More
We were very excited to join the royal loyal following of RCI only to be met with disappointment after disappointment on this, our first (and possibly last) cruise with RCI. This was not only the Christmas cruise but it was our honeymoon as well. A few highlights: 1) Our a/c was not working properly and our room never fully cooled. They tried to fix it - once - but it did little to alleviate the problem. Actually, the whole ship was overheated - we were sweating at dinner, walking in the halls and for SURE in the un-airconditioned elevators. 2) Service was sub-par. Our server was exceptionally awful and rude and eventually just 'left the ship' when we docked in Jamaica (his home country). Room service attendant sighed at me and argued with me (claiming they had NO salads with chicken on them, which was untrue and she later realized), etc. 3) Food was disgusting. Greasy, bland, cold....even the 'grilled' chicken left a grease film on our plates. They also close all dining options at 9 unless they're paid restaurants, and the room service menu is very limited. 4) Limited hours - of everything. Instead of a carefree vacation we felt strapped to timetables the whole time. 5) The TV booking system didn't work correctly which caused us to miss our excursion. 6) Little decoration for Christmas on this, the Christmas Cruise. The best part? Disembarking was quick with the self-serve option. All you have to do is schlepp your own stuff and have a US Passport and you're homefree! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Navigator of the Seas, December 21 – 28, 2014 Route: Seven day cruise: Galveston-Cozumel-George Town-Falmouth-Galveston. 1. General Comments: A pleasant Christmas cruise. We are regular cruisers and were last on this ship in August. ... Read More
Navigator of the Seas, December 21 – 28, 2014 Route: Seven day cruise: Galveston-Cozumel-George Town-Falmouth-Galveston. 1. General Comments: A pleasant Christmas cruise. We are regular cruisers and were last on this ship in August. Purpose of this cruise was to just RELAX. We booked a junior suite on the ninth deck. Details below. We also used “My Time Dining,” and it worked despite a hiccup (below). The entire top level of the three level dining room was for this type of dining. We had the same wait staff for the entire week. Ordering “gifts” on the RCL website for the cruise were hit-and-miss. First, orders cannot be made totally on-line. You look at the website and either phone an 800 number, or print off an order form and fax it to RCL. Our order for a bottle of champagne to be served in the dining room on a specific day worked perfectly. Our order for a two-foot tall Christmas tree from the flower section of the website went no-where. In my first phone call, the clerk could not bring up the item on her computer screen. She finally gave up and told me to try later. In my second call a few days later, a different clerk was able to bring up the tree on his screen, but then he put me on hold. On his return, he told me the tree was “sold out.” Our cruise agent was equally unsuccessful to make an order. Our assumption is that the little tree was not available in Galveston, and RCL just did not want to admit that it could not supply it. 2. Embarking: We left our Galveston hotel at 10:30. Despite detour traffic throughout downtown due to a walk/race in progress, dropping my wife and bags at the terminal, parking the car, taking a shuttle, getting through security, and checking in, we were on board around 12:15 and in our cabin by 1pm. Suitcases appeared at our door before 2pm. 3. The Navigator of the Seas: The junior suite is the way to go. Plenty of space, and plenty of storage space, including a walk-in closet. Suitcases fit well under the bed. A tub shower in the bathroom. The cabin has a small safe and a small refrigerator (never used it). There is a TV that receives movies, CNN (International only), ESPN, shipboard activities, and other channels. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are very few announcements on the PA system. While you get a daily planner, there is no newspaper. You have to get your news from the TV. It takes a while to get a handle on what is where on the ship. Maps and interactive “help” panels are at each elevator lobby. There is a large children/teens area and programs for them. 4. Meals: Food in the Windjammer buffet - which almost everyone uses for breakfast and lunch - is good. There are plenty of choices at both meals, and you can eat as much or as little as you want. It is a bit hurried, though, and not a place for a slow meal. The dining room’s food was good but not imaginative. The Christmas turkey dinner was fine, but certainly nothing special. We only used the dining room for dinner, although it is available with open seating at breakfast and lunch. Food portions are of respectable size, and if you don’t try to eat all the courses everyday, you should not do bad weight-wise. Wine steward duties were handled by our assistant waiter. This meant having to tell him what we wanted by the item number on the wine menu. Arranging My Time Dining on-line was a pain. For the longest time, the dining page on the RCL website did not work. The website posted an apology; even our cruise agent was only told that there were “computer problems.” Only on December 10 was our agent able to get My Time Dining time for us – 6:30 – as our requested time of 7PM was not available (!). We were advised to try to change the time after boarding. We did, and the staff person handling the times very quickly and efficiently adjusted our reservations to the closer time of 7:15. That this could not be handled on-line remains a puzzle. We had made reservations on-line for the Izumi specialty restaurant. A very pleasant meal with good tempura and sushi. There are other food outlets around the ship as well as a goodly number of bars including a pub, and a wine shop. You cannot go hungry or thirsty. 5. Dressing for meals: For this seven day trip it was two formal, and all the rest casual. Formal attire for men appears to be defined by age: seniors are in tuxes or suits; next generation is in jackets and maybe a tie; youngest generation is in pants, shirt, and tennies. Maybe it’s time for RCL to drop the “formal” category. 6. Fellow Passengers: As this was a Christmas cruise, the ship was full (over 3,500 passengers). There were many large multi-generation family groups, both from the US and Latin America. There were a few announcements reminding parents they were responsible for their children’s behavior, indicating there were some issues. 7. Shore Excursions: A word of advice: make your shore excursion reservations on-line! Otherwise you will either have to use the not-so-user-friendly on board TV system to make your reservations or stand in line at the excursion counter. The on-line billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don’t need the ship’s tour office. RCL’s tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through RCL, you have support when there is a problem, eg, the ship will wait for you if the tour is delayed. As the captain announced, “Be on time. If you are not, you will be able to take that rare photo of the departing ship.” As we have been to these ports before, we only poked around the pier areas and otherwise enjoyed the quiet ship. We were six ships in Cozumel, and we were another six ships anchored at George Town. George Town was especially crowded with cruise passengers. We were the only ship in Falmouth. 8. Shipboard entertainment: The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes including the surf rider, the rock climbing wall and the ice skating rink. We did not see any of the shows. The casino was of good size and the payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship’s photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. There are various venues for night owls. Sing-alongs with Phil Anderson in the Schooner Bar are always popular with C&W fans. The former separate library and card room are now merged into one, resulting in many card and domino games being played and very few books on the shelves. Want to read on this ship? Bring your own material. 9. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts (for cabin steward, waiter, asst waiter, and head waiter). The amounts are charged to your shipboard account, and the tips are taken care of electronically with the staff. If you use My Time Dining, you will be billed the full tip amount when you book your cruise. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings you room service. Your bar bill automatically adds 15 percent. 10. Settling of Accounts: During your cruise, anything you purchase on board is punched into a computer; you sign one copy of the ticket and you receive a copy. You can track your account on the ship’s TV channel. On Sunday morning you receive a paper final statement of your account. 11. Disembarking: On Saturday you will receive luggage tags with numbers. You also receive a sheet of paper telling when that number will be called for disembarking and where you have to be waiting in order to hear the announcement when your number can leave the ship. Your bags have to be out by 11PM, breakfast is early, and you have to be out of your cabin by around 8:30 and in your designated waiting area. Again, you will only hear the announcements in the waiting areas. This cruise turned out to have the fastest disembarkation we have ever gone through in Galveston. We left our departure waiting lounge at 8:40 (20 minutes early) and were out of the customs and immigration hall with our bags at 9:20. We drove out of the parking lot at 9:35. Texas Taxes: After going through immigration and customs, we did stop at the Texas TABC table to declare our one bottle of booze. We paid $3.75 ($3 administrative fee and 75 cents tax), received a tax sticker for the bottle and were on our way. 12. If anyone has questions, send me an e-mail at LTC519@satx.rr.com. Fred Groth San Antonio, TX   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were on the Navigator 12/07-12/14, 2014. Since being home I have read CC for the week we were on the ship. Sometimes I wonder if we are even on the same ship with some of the others. I have read complaints about no hot water, ours was ... Read More
We were on the Navigator 12/07-12/14, 2014. Since being home I have read CC for the week we were on the ship. Sometimes I wonder if we are even on the same ship with some of the others. I have read complaints about no hot water, ours was very good. Some said flooring on balconies was bad ours and all the friends travelling with us were good. We thought the entertainment was good. Food is usually the only issue because it is not the type of food that we normally eat at home, however I like trying new dishes and if we don't like something they are always so happy to bring us something else from the menu. Even something not from the menu. One night my husband didn't like any of the deserts and jokingly he said he would like a banana split. In about 5 minutes there it was before him. The whole table was surprised. The last comment I have is about embarkation and debarkation. We had no problems with either. On the 7th we walked straight through the terminal, security and waited about 3 minutes to get to the counter to check-in. After check-in we walked straight to getting picture taken for sea pass purposes then onto the ship. On the 14th we got off at our appointed time of 9:00 and had no lines in the terminal until we got to customs and we were 3 couples back. The lines were short and moving very quickly. There were others writing that is was horrible and long lines, therefore I sometimes wonder if we were even on the same ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
In general is was a very nice cruise. The ships staff were wonderful. They were engaging and very friendly. The ship is very clean and looks great after the refurbishment earlier in 2014. For the most part the passengers were friendly and ... Read More
In general is was a very nice cruise. The ships staff were wonderful. They were engaging and very friendly. The ship is very clean and looks great after the refurbishment earlier in 2014. For the most part the passengers were friendly and enjoying the holiday season. In the main dining room the service was very good. With a waiter and assistant waiter we were well attended to. There was never a delay in courses or the water glass being topped off. The food in the main dining room was ok. The soups were nice and varied. The deserts were good and not too large. The main meals did seem bland to us. Also in our opinion they could not properly cook a baked potato. The specialty restaurants that we tried were very good. We did Chops for dinner one night and Giovani's table for lunch. Both were very good and in our opinion worth the cover charge. We had a balcony cabin and our cabin steward was fantastic. The itinerary was Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. All of our excursions, which were booked through RCL, were great. In Cozumel we took the Tulum tour and marveled at the Mayan ruins. In Grand Cayman we took the submarine tour and dove to 100 feet. In Jamaica we did the zip line and bobsled run, this was the most fun of the three. We did have technical issues in the cabin with some of the ships infrastructure but they were eventually resolved by the end of the cruise. All in al it was a very nice cruise that had relaxation and exhilaration. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
INTRO: Navigator of the Seas (NOTS) Thanksgiving Cruise to Falmouth, Grand Cayman (NOT!) and Cozumel. I want to share our reflections of our (DW and I 45, DS 16 and DD 14) first RCCL cruise in 8 years. We drifted away from RCCL due ... Read More
INTRO: Navigator of the Seas (NOTS) Thanksgiving Cruise to Falmouth, Grand Cayman (NOT!) and Cozumel. I want to share our reflections of our (DW and I 45, DS 16 and DD 14) first RCCL cruise in 8 years. We drifted away from RCCL due geography and timing and are very pleased to report that the line was as great as we remembered and has not cut very few corners during this time (at least compared to Carnival, NCL and Celebrity). Weather did not cooperate for us on this cruise: Departure day, our first sea day and Grand Cayman were windy, cold and wet (we could not call on Grand Cayman). Two of the other days were either just cold or just wet. We had perfect weather only for Jamicia. This cruise could have been a washout if not for the exceptional entertainment and restaurant staff. This was also RCCL’s first cruise out of Galveston in 6 months and NOTS turned over a third of the crew after an extended summer in Europe. There were more than a few kinks to be worked out during the first few days and the shore side staff was downright discombobulated at both embarkation and debarkation. We drove to Galveston and slept on the island the night before. DW and I enjoyed an underpublicized, adults only. resort 10 minutes from Falmouth and we did the Nachi Cocom thing with our teens in Cozumel. All of us enjoyed great bar service through some form of pre-paid package and our Dining Experience was our best in over 10 years. I’ll do a day by day, but I wanted to post a few more highs and lows for folks who just want the cliff notes: SUMMARY: LOWS: Terminal 2 in Galveston is no where near as nice as Terminal one which is occupied by Carnival. Dining Room, hallways to staterooms and cabins are definitely ready for refurb. Illusive Casino Staff. RCCL pier in Cozumel had trouble handling FOTS and NOTS together (can’t imagine if OOTS or AOTS was there) Poor AC throughout the ship. HIGHS: MDR experience on par with “the good old days” Falmouth better than MoBay Ship never felt crowded – kids were kept out of adult only hot-tubs. GREAT Thanksgiving Experience (including Football in Studio B and Tasty Turkey) HAPPY and enthusiastic crew Confirmed proof that real people (DS) win “Free Cruise Bingo” Day 0 (McAllen Tx to Galvestion) – My work had me out of town till late Friday night – DW picked me up at the airport at 12:30 AM and we did not get home till 1:30 AM. Was up by 8am to start packing and send the dogs to the Kennel. Incredibly, we were on the road by 10:30 and, near as I can tell, we did not forget anything (though we over packed as usual). We made it to the Galveston Hampton by 5pm. We have a pretty good overnight bag system and we were able to leave 8 of 10 bags in the car. I stay in a lot of Hamptons, and the one in Galveston is one of the nicest. Weather was terrible, so we ended up going to see the new Hunger Games movie at DD’s request and picked up a couple of things we wanted for the cruise at the Walmart just across the street. Day 1 (Embarkation) – Love using the Galveston web cams to see the ship come in – was expecting NOTS to be late with the weather, but she backed in right on schedule with the CCL Magic (our last cruise) close behind. Hampton and the other Hilton properties have a park and shuttle package for $45 – but as much as we pack, we prefer just dropping the bags at the pier (and its much faster at debark). We had a great experience with Galveston Park and Cruise last time on Magic but we thought the “Park and Cruise” right across from Terminal 2 would be a better bet for this trip. This turns out not to be the case as you can only cross Harborside drive at 25th street - so Galveston Park and Cruise is your best bet for either terminal. TIP: Avoid traffic on Harborside Drive around the Terminal – approach via Kepner/22nd street from Broadway and pull right in to the terminal. I have spent a lot of time on this thread: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1951525 discussing expected hiccups at embarkation due to crew turnover and the fact that this was RCI and Navigator’s first cruise of the season from Galveston. We were expecting a lot worse and the issues we encountered were largely comical - except for two things: 1) DW and I had a beverage package and it was not on our card - we had to visit 4 places once on board before the issue was finally resolved (and it would have taken longer if I did not have a printed confirmation in hand). 2) Pre-Ordered Bon-voyage flowers never came and have not been credited as of this writing. TIPs: If something goes wrong with your check-in, ASK for priority embarkation. The Embarkation line at the front of the ship was MUCH shorter than the one at the stern. Unlike Carnival, RCI will not let you sneak in to the cabin areas to drop your bags, so carry on only what you will be comfortable schlepping until 1pm. We always arrive early and tip our porter well - and we ALWAYS have our bags before the boat drill and this time was no exception. There was a parade immediately after the boat drill on the promenade - we headed there by way of the aft stairs in the MDR (to get to deck 5) and we scored a table at “Two Poets” which provided an unobstructed view and great service (all cruise). We had late seating dinner and great tablemates - our waiter was the best we have had in many, many years. The post dinner welcome aboard show was very promising. DW and I did the Casino for an hour or so before bed and came out ahead – I played on “their money” the rest of the week. (DW was not so lucky). DAYS 2&3 (at sea with not so great weather). These days kind of just blended together and we followed the same morning routine both days, on time room service, hot-tub in the solarium until lunch. Lunch in the MDR was great on day 2 and we did the Windjammer with the kids on day 3 as a lead in to the Ice show. Our ice show had wonderful guest performers from Russia where the woman magically changed costumes in front of us – no fewer than 10 times. Main review show on formal night was OK - the top lead singers were weak. Show on night 3 was the man of 10,000 voices which was more entertaining. Plenty of live entertainment. DW and I also did the Rasul mud bath (85 bucks for an hour per couple in the spa) – it was fun even though there were a lot of things wrong with the facility. DAY 4 (Falmouth). Our first time at this port – DW and I had planned this as “Our Day” and the kids stayed on the ship. We did an all inclusive at a place that used to be called Pebbles and it was fantastic – surpassing all expectations – way better than Couples or Sunset beach which we have done from Mo’Bay. This was our only excellent weather day. The RCI port facility is very well thought out and we were able to get a cab quickly on the way out and pick up our Christmas tree topper at a souvenir stand on the way back to the boat. There is no formal show in the Theater on Jamaica night- but there are two ice shows that night, a late night comedy and a rocking 70s party. DAY 5 Thanksgiving (Grand Cayman washed out). We had a family jetski excursion to Stingray City and Rum Point booked through Island marketing planned for this special day. Wife and kids were growing apprehensive about this as the weather was predicted to be cold and wet and we knew the waves would be rough. We were relieved to have a cancelation decision made for us when the ship turned around in the harbor and the Captain announced we would not be making the port of call. We were impressed that the crew put out a new Compass with new activities (this was their holiday too). I was particularly impressed that the dining room, which was supposed to be closed in port, was opened for Lunch. Imagine preparing Thanksgiving Dinner for 3500 when they decide to drop in early for lunch. Throwing a Cowboys football party in Studio B for a ship full of Texas was pure genius and was greatly appreciated by those who attended. Finally, with all due respect to my wife, mom, grandmothers, mother-in law, sister-in-law, and all others who have prepared Turkey for me over the past 45 years – I enjoyed the best Thanksgiving dinner of my life. Everything was great –especially the Turkey which was moist and delicious. The custom menu was a nice touch and a wonderful keepsake. This was our third Thanksgiving cruise and it was the first time we were not disappointed. The 2nd review show (which is normally on day 6) was better than the first. DAY 6 (Cozumel) – We did Nachi CoCom through Island marketing which was perfect for a family beach day with teens. While getting off the ship was easy enough, coming in a half hour behind FOTS, the pier and terminal were SWAMPED. When we saw the line for Taxis, we walked out of the terminal and walked a block towards town where we caught a Cab for 4 (which was $20 each way with tip). TIP: walk out the exit for rental cars, even if you don’t have one and walk towards the town there are plenty of cabs waiting to shortcut the line. We skipped the show but made it to the Battle of the Sexes and “The Quest after dinner. TIP- If your are planning to take your pants off during the Quest game show wear funny boxers. We also visited the Dungeon, which was a well managed club with a DJ who played music that sounded like… music. There were enough people in there so that it felt like a party without feeling like a crowd. DAY 7 (Sea) – This day started out cooler but sunnier so we resumed our morning hot tub routine. DS and I did the rock wall which was a nice mini-adventure while DW and DD shopped. TIP – there is no need to was a portion of your day looking through the walls of photos. On the last night, simple swipe your card at one of the Kiosks and the system will pick up every picture of everyone in your party and you can order and pick-up on debark morning! TIP - The four photo package is a great deal as it includes a nice folio, the DVD and some extra stock photos and is priced below the cost of four 8x10s. When we met up on the promenade, I was talked in to Bingo. I don’t like Bingo, is was $32 bucks for a pack of cards (and I had to buy three packs) the Bingo caller was very lame and it was clear that we were indoors for the best sea weather of the entire cruise. But the kids were having a good time with it, and that made DW and me happy. Then, on the last game of the cruise, DS made an “X” and yelled BINGO for a free 7 day cruise for 2. After receiving our certificate - we were so busy celebrating - all of a sudden it was time for the best show of the cruise (the acrobats/gymnasts/ballet dancers) and a great dinner (DS asked for the expensive steak in return for turning over the cruise certificate to DW and me). Then, we had to pack, which would have been a terrible drag if we did not know that we would be CRUISING AGAIN SOON! DAY 8 (Debark) – for the first time in 21 cruises, we slept in on debark day and showed up at the MDR just before they closed the doors. We enjoyed a nice leisurely breakfast as I was not at all anxious to be dropped of at Hobby for a flight to work on Monday, without DW and family as they proceeded back to McAllen. So we took our time and waited until there was no line at all to get off the ship. When we did wander off, there was a crazy shortage of porters, so we just went ahead and grabbed our own stuff. Only difficult part was where I parked. There are cops at 30th street to keep you from crossing the highway there – why they couldn’t act as crossing guards to save me a 10 block walk in traffic via 25th street is a mystery to me. But staying off Harborside drive, taking a back road to 22nd (like I did on day one) got me back to the curb easily enough. The drive to Hobby was not bad at all and DW and the kids made their way home safely and were home before I reached my hotel in PA. FINAL THOUGHTS: The RCCL experience is head and shoulders above the current Carnival product – we are so pleased to have the opportunity to cruise them again for free within the next 12 months. There is at least a 50% chance that we will use the certificate to cruise the Navigator again after her refurb (either at spring break or in June). We are also considering great options from NJ and Baltimore and are really excited at the prospect of our first Oasis class cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We finally did our our first cruise to the Caribbean, Jamaica, Grand Caymans, and Cozumel. We left from San Antonio the 23rd to spend the night in or near Galveston. We thought we had a hotel in Houstonbut it didn't turn out so we ... Read More
We finally did our our first cruise to the Caribbean, Jamaica, Grand Caymans, and Cozumel. We left from San Antonio the 23rd to spend the night in or near Galveston. We thought we had a hotel in Houstonbut it didn't turn out so we continued into Galveston. After going over the bridge we found a Howard Johnson just off of 45. The Hotel was nice and we found out that we could park our vehicle there for the week for FREE. they gave us a placard to put on the dase and security watched our vehicle. There was transportation arranged for us by the company that charged for parking. It cost us 5 dollars per person round trip. This saved us a ton of money. I have to say that the boarding of the ship went smothly and without incident. We did run into some imagration problems cincerning the crew andthat delayed our sailing by about an hour. The first few days of sailing was rough. The weather was raining at first but we did sail during winter so that was to be expected however it was still enjoyable. Our first port was Jamaica, beautiful weather. Not knowing what to do and doing a lot of research I found a tour guide named Admiral SA. I found him on Cruise Critic and was highly recommended. We are not much water people and wanted a tour of the island. The Admiral did not disappoint. He took us all around the island and showed us plenty of sites and gave us a historical overview. We went to one of the best Jerk Chicken and Pork on the island and it was delicious. He did take us shopping however it was ok. Shopping at the port was better with the prices cheaper. I highly recommend the Admiral and he will customize an excursion for you. The one port that we were looking forward to was Grand Cayman but due to rough waters we had to bypass it. Needlessto say we were highly disappointed. However the crew was fantastic, and had everything ready for us. They did an amazing job. At Cozumel, we did the shopping thing. I did buy a watch at a great price. After that we had made reservations at Mr Sanchos. We had a blast, all the food and drinks for $45 a person. It was everything that everyone said. It was a beautiful day and the water was nice and clear. They had parrots and eguanas for the kids and lots of things to do. It was a relaxing day after spending all that time on the water. All in all the cruise was awesome and the crew made everything great. Out waiter for dining was Michael Jackson from Jamaica and his assistant was Kelly. They were both great. Our bar tender was Velacko (n8t sure if I spelt it right), and he was great. I would highly recommend the cruise. The shows were awesome and kept us well entertained. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We did RCL's New Year's Trip RT out of New Orleans. We live in the area right now, so we drove to the port. We have left out of 3 other ports including 1 outside the US and this port was the worst the leave out of. It took us a ... Read More
We did RCL's New Year's Trip RT out of New Orleans. We live in the area right now, so we drove to the port. We have left out of 3 other ports including 1 outside the US and this port was the worst the leave out of. It took us a long time to get to the parking lot, we then had to wait in a very long line (even as Gold members), and it took nearly 1.5 hours just to get on the ship. We spoke with other travelers who have experienced other ports and shared the same frustration at embarkation in NOLA. It seemed they had much fewer guest service people checking everyone in, since we sailed thru security rather quickly (once we got to that point!). The ship was decked out in holiday regalia. We absolutely hate the holidays and often try to escape to a non-christian country to avoid the cold, Christmas caroling, and what not. We were pleased that even though the ship was dressed to impress for the holidays, we did not hear any Christmas music and it was toned down the further we got into the cruise. The 3rd night, the main dining room was free of Christmas stuff entirely, and by the end of the trip the only item left visible was the tree in the Promenade. We were so grateful for that!All our days at sea were crappy weather. I know the cruise lines cannot do anything about this. They moved the majority of events from the outside into the inside or cancelled them all together. We never had a lack of something to do onboard, but would have appreciated 1 day sitting by the pool, but alas it was beautiful once we were down in the Caribbean! Our cruise directors were hilarious, personable, and we had a great time on 70's night, NYE party, and a few sail away parties camped out in the outdoor hot tubs watching the sunset. We did go see several of the shows, the Platters brought down the house! Not a dry eye in the place! The juggler was okay, the comedian was mostly funny (we were both sober, so maybe some alcohol helped). Formal nights were fun and orderly. I took 1 of the photography classes while onboard and the staff down there were wonderful. Two of the photographers were very gifted and we bought all the photos these 2 took, with the rest being rather lack luster. We really enjoy the portraits as they are framed fun memories of our adventures. The people onboard were by far the friendliest we have encountered. We met many people from all over the US. I met a fellow photographer onboard and we spent an hour on the pool deck showing me how to work my new fancy camera. We met another couple NYE night in Boleros bar near midnight and had great conversation, laughs and dancing. The celebrations on the Promenade were fun to be had by all and even though it was insanely crowded and loud, people were still nice and willing. We tolerate the Windjammer when we are too tired or don't want to think about where to round up food. (Isn't the point of a cruise to not think for a week?). Some things in the Windjammer were good, others awful, you just kind of learned what to avoid. The hand santizer guy at the Windjammer won employee of the month for his insane amount of enthusiasm in the morning getting everyone to sanitize their hands. He was awesome to wake up to every morning! We buy the soda package on these cruises and between him and the caffeine, you were moving in the morning! We did eat at Johnny Rockets 1 day for lunch, we didn't need to eat anything till our 8pm dinner and even then we weren't really hungry. Johnny Rockets is so much fun, loud, and food is good for diner food. Love the cheese fries and chocolate milk shakes. I would eat there every day just for those two things, but I would have gained 10 pounds on a weeklong cruise doing that! Lol. We also ate at Chops Grille on NYE night. We had a 6:30pm seating, and the place was empty when we got there with a few couples wandering in by 8pm when we rolled ourselves out of there. Our steaks were good, dessert phenonmenal, and we even got funky hats for NYE celebrations later. Our waitress was nice but not super informative. The very first time we had Chops on an RCL line (Serenade of the Seas in 8/09), we got "the steak talk" from our waiter. They went over the kinds of cuts, how best to cook them, etc. We have not been able to get "the steak talk" since then, and only for that reason would not rate it as the best Chops experience we have had. I would have enjoyed more interaction with our server, the host was very friendly and pleasant and spoke with us several times throughout our meal.Now the main dining room. We had the best waiter we have ever had on any ship, ever. Volcun (seriously, that's his name), was happy, energetic, happy to talk to us, polite, joked with us, and overall just a wonderful person. We never wanted for anything. We were in a back room from the main dining room, which we were initially upset about, but he more than made up for it. After we found out that RCL no longer does the Caribbean dance through the main dining room with the waiters dressed in kitchen accutreman, it didn't matter we were not in the main dining room. Our table only had 1 other couple at it, and they too helped make dinner very enjoyable each evening. We had so much fun talking to them and learning about each other. We made friends with them, and took them to the airport when we disembarked. Again, total blast for the dining room. The food on average was ok. I feel the quality and most certainly the proportions have declined. But if we didn't like something, our waiter quickly brought us something else. We would order different desserts and our waiter would bring us everything on the list just to truly each night since we had an 8 person table with only 4 people at it. I was very unhappy to find out RCL no longer prints the Gratuity Coupons to go into your envelopes on the last night onboard. We have always prepaid gratuities and If we got special attention we would throw some extra cash in there. We always enjoyed passing around the envelopes on the last night, but since we got ho-hum service from everyone except our waiter, he was the only one who got additional cash. I asked the guest services desk if the employees are told who did pre-paid gratuities, and she said no. So we wrote on our envelopes that we did not put cash in "We prepaid your tip and RCL will not print a coupon". So we were rather disappointed at that. Knowing that in the future, we will not prepay our gratuities and do strictly cash for everyone. I don't know if that was RCL's goal or not, but that is what it resulted in.Please DO NOT book excursions through Royal in Grand Cayman. We routinely buy excursions thru the cruise line and pay the higher price largely for the "idiot factor" of not having to think or worry on our trip. Grand cayman is beautiful, civilized, and the port is built to have ample opportunity to get a tour from a vendor there on site or even take a taxi to a local beach w/o a fuss. Our guide here was half an hour late, literally read road signs of local businesses to us for our tour, then rushed us through places to get back on schedule because the boat left at 3pm. Our travel agent warned us against doing a cruise ship sponsored trip and she was totally right. We loved Grand Cayman and cannot wait to go back and "do it right". In Jamaica (our first port day on New Years Day), we signed up to do Dunn River's Falls and Green Grotto Caves. First off, that was a mistake to sign up for 2 very physical activites right after New Years night. We don't drink, but we were still up late and had to be off the ship by 8am for this tour. We were dragging all day. Dunn River's Fall was ok, not sure I would do it again. The perpetual hounding to buy something got very old very quickly. The Green Grotto caves were very neat to see. In Cozumel we chose to go mudding in a dune buggy to the Jade Caverns. Fun, but again not what we expected. We spent a lot of time broken down and only got about 5 minutes at the caverns. They try for these corny photo ops holding an alligator, next to parrots and hawks and the like, but they are far from good photos. Half of them didn't even show up on the screen at the end of the tour anyway. I believe it was termed an X-rails adventure. Bring a bandana, wrap around sunglasses, towel, and a change of clothes. You will get COATED in mud (which is what we wanted). We would do this tour again if given the chance. The facility was nice, the people friendly, and they provided taxis back to the pier (about a 10 minute drive). The pier in cozumel is great for shopping. We went back to the ship, grabbed a quick shower, and went back off to go have lunch at Senor Frogs along the water at the pier. I recommend Senor Frogs! Fun party atmosphere, all their drinks come in tall obnoxious plastic glasses, and the food was really good. I bought a tanzanite ring from Tanzanite International on the pier here, they love to haggle, so never pay the first price they say!After Cozumel we cruised back to New Orleans. We had a wonderful trip even though the weather was awful (cloudy, 70 knot winds on deck, all outdoor activities this day were cancelled including the dodge ball tournament we were looking forward to watching). Next year the ship will be something else and it will go to different ports out of NOLA. We are seriously considering doing another New Years trip out of this city, and would happily return to this port to do more in the future once we are platinum or higher guests because they got on very quickly. The people onboard this cruise were super friendly and we had a great time doing a wide variety of activities! Our room attendant was good, not great, but he did his job. We enjoy inside rooms because they get totally dark, have always been very quiet for us, and we are hardly in the room if we are awake! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Part I - Precruise A. Inception We are avid Caribbean cruisers. Two years ago, we spent Christmas and New Year's in the Caribbean on the Celebrity Mercury (which, sadly, sailed for the last time under that name in February 2011); ... Read More
Part I - Precruise A. Inception We are avid Caribbean cruisers. Two years ago, we spent Christmas and New Year's in the Caribbean on the Celebrity Mercury (which, sadly, sailed for the last time under that name in February 2011); last year, we spent Christmas in the Caribbean on Celebrity's Millennium; and this year, we wanted to do it again. We looked at all cruise lines, and wanted another 14-day cruise, but the way that Christmas and New Year's are on the calendar this year, a 14-day cruise would've taken our son out of too much school, so we booked a 7-day cruise. We settled again on either Royal Caribbean or Celebrity (the only lines we have cruised on) because of their itineraries and schedules. We prefer to drive to the East Coast for our cruises, but that wasn't an option this year. B. Cruise Critic We use the community chat boards on cruisecritic.com extensively for cruise port hints and information. This review is my way of sharing. Thank you to everyone who shared in their reviews and roll calls. C. Choice of Route Our route was out of New Orleans (very excited about that again. New Orleans is a wonderful city!), to Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; and George Town, Grand Cayman. We have been to most of these ports of call before, but not in a while, so we were excited about seeing them again. We have been to Jamaica before, but not to Falmouth, so that should be interesting. D. Choice of Cruiseline and Ship We selected Royal Caribbean because we found out during our Celebrity Cruise last year that if we spent even 1 day on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, we would be Diamond members. Navigator, a Voyager Class ship, is a 138,000 ton ship with 15 decks, 10 pools & whirlpools, and 16 bars, clubs & lounges. It has a rock wall, a basketball court, an ice-skating rink, and a mini-golf course. Capacity is 3,114 passengers plus a crew of 1,185. It was launched in 2002, is registered in the Bahamas and has a CDC score of 96. E. Choice of Airline This was pretty easy. We picked the cheapest, most direct flight from Milwaukee to New Orleans. I have lots of miles on Delta, so we used them to book the 4 tickets, so they cost us only $40 out of pocket total. Flying hints: 1. Don't fly if you have a choice. I suggest driving if you can. 2. Go non-stop if you fly. Each connection increases the possibility of lost luggage and additional flight delays. 3. Consider flying in to your departure port one day early. This can be a major stress reducer! 4. Don't select your airline seats without first visiting SeatGuru.com. They have detailed airplane seating plans and hints about each seat for almost every plane flown by major airlines. F. Choice of cabin Generally, the lower your cabin and the more central its location, the less you will feel the movements of the ship. We love rocking and so did not mind being closer to the back of the ship. We always stay in inside cabins (unless something strange happens) because it is nice to be able to sleep in without worrying about the sun shining in the window. A recommendation to anyone in an inside cabin is to bring a clock. It can be very disconcerting to wake up and have absolutely no idea what time it is. We were in cabins 7345 & 7347, both interior staterooms (N). My husband and I were in one and our 17-year-old son and his 15-year-old friend (a first-time cruiser) was in the other. Royal Caribbean allows minors to stay together in a cabin if it is adjacent to their guardians' cabin. It took a few requests to ensure that we were in the right cabins (they originally wanted to book one adult and one minor in each cabin), but it ended up working out. G. Price We went to a local Travel Agent who specializes in cruises (as we always do for cruises). The cost, because it was over the holidays, was high at just over $1,000 per person. The flights were $40 for all four of us because I used my Delta miles to pay for them. Additionally, because of when we booked, we received a $100 on-board credit (OBC) for each cabin, so that was nice. I also use the Royal Caribbean Credit Card, so we got another $250 OBC from that. H. Passports We all have passports and encountered no problems. I did bring extra documentation for my son's friend. I brought a detailed (notarized) letter from his parents saying that we could take him on this specific ship, that we could take him into these specific countries, that we could make medical decisions for him, that we would supervise him, and that we would be able to sign for permission for onboard activities (like climbing the rock wall). I got all of this information from the RCCL website, but it wasn't easy to find. I. Insurance We also purchased travel insurance because we never know when our son might wind up in a cast or one of our aging parents might have a health crisis. J. Prebooking Excursions We booked all of our excursions on our own. I did research beforehand and we decided what to do from there. I do not like using the ship's excursions because they are usually expensive; I do recommend them, though, for novice cruisers. K. Packing We packed for 2 formal nights (we all brought nice outfits -- the boys wore what they wore to their Homecoming dance, my husband wore a shirt and tie (and pants) and I brought nice clothes), and the rest at various levels of casual (non-jean pants and nice shirts for all of us). Additionally, we brought enough clothing to cover us during the day for 7 days. This is less than you think because clothing rarely gets really dirty and we tend to re-wear clothes a few times before it goes in the "to be washed at home" luggage. (NOTE: My son has apparently outgrown the "re-wear your clothes" phase and decided to pack different clothes for every day. We made him carry them all in his luggage.) Among the most helpful "extra items" we packed were: extension cords and power strips for each room (usually, there are only 2 outlets in the room and we have lots to charge), alarm clock, bug lotion, sunscreen ranging from 100 to 15 spf, highlighters, beach bag, and water shoes. We also brought Christmas decorations for each room, as well as Cruise Critic door signs printed off of the roll call lists. Part II - Embarkation A. The Port We flew into New Orleans via Atlanta and arrived at 3:30pm the day before the cruise departed. You have a choice of buying transfers from Royal Caribbean, catching a taxi or hiring a car. We used taxis to and from our hotel (in the French Quarter). B. Security Processing and Boarding We arrived at the pier at 2:30pm, hoping that there would be no wait, but there was a long line for security screening. But because we were Emerald Club members, we bypassed all of that and had absolutely no line. Once through security, there were separate lines for non-Crown & Anchor Society (C&AS) members and Gold C&AS members, and all other C&AS members. All lines were kinda long and fed into a table of folks processing your boarding documents. Assuming you had already completed all the documents requested online, signing in and getting room keys (which is also your cruise ID, and ship credit card) took no more than 10 minutes. There was a quick wait for the embarkation cruise photo (which we skipped). On-board and our cruise cards were quickly data-encrypted with our images at one of three stations. Once they handed us our cards we found ourselves on the 4th floor aft lobby of the ship. It took a total of 60 minutes from the time we arrived at the pier to our arrival in our cabins. I was surprised that I was never asked for the paperwork for my son's friend. At no point in the cruise (embarkation, disembarkation or anywhere in between) did anyone ask for it. However, I have heard from others that this is not always the case, so I would recommend that anyone taking a minor non-family member get the required paperwork. C. Explore The Cabins We were in cabins 7345 & 7347, side-by-side, inside category N cabins in the back of the ship. The cabins are each 150.7 square feet and were set up for my husband and I to sleep in one big bed and my son and his friend to each have their own. The bathroom has enough room, and the shower was very nice. Our bathroom had a reasonably large shower (no bath), hair dryer, large mirror, sink, toilet, and some pretty decent storage. Something new since the last time we were on a ship: a nightlight we could use in the bathroom or main cabin. We used it in the bathroom so we wouldn't have to turn the lights on at night. Hangers were provided in the cabin, as was a welcome gift: a bottle of Evian water, some key lime cookies and a small package of candied fruit. The room safe is located in the cabinet. In the closet there are shelves for organizing your stuff. The desk featured a number of informational brochures including that day's event newsletter. The cabins also have a TV, thermostat, phone (but no clock, although you can set your phone for an automated wake-up call), and a mini-bar (small refrigerator). Being Emerald Club members, we requested and were given robes for use on board. We also received a discount booklet with coupons for beverages, Johnny Rockets, photos, internet, laundry, casino, bingo, gift shop, art, jewelry temporary tattoos, the spa, etc. Having signed up for the Meet & Mingle party, we received invites to the following day's gathering. Being members of the C&AS, we were also given invitations to a number of different events during the cruise. Our stateroom attendant, Orson from St. Vincent & the Grenadines, did a wonderful job throughout our cruise. D. Tour of Ship and Search For Food We almost found sustenance in the Windjammer Cafe on the deck 11 for a 3:45pm buffet lunch, but the Cafe closed for the 4:00pm Muster until 6:30pm. This was inconvenient as I hadn't eaten lunch and now could not find any until later in the evening. It is possible that the Promenade Cafe (on Deck 5) was open, but I wasn't aware of it at the time. The ship is well laid out with ample sets of stairwells and elevators. I tried to take the stairs as much as possible (and pretended that this was sufficient exercise to cover my food intake). E. Muster/Sailaway About one hour prior to leaving port, we participated in the mandatory lifeboat drill. The drill went smoothly and lasted 40 minutes. We are very happy at the changes that have been made in the muster drill as we no longer have to get our lifejackets and wear them to the muster, but we did have to stand outside waiting for everyone to show up. It was a good opportunity to meet people. We had a Cruise Critic get-together at the Sky bar right after muster. I asked people to wear red so that we could identify each other. I also brought nametags. About 10 people showed up -- it was a great opportunity for some of the teenagers to meet each other and start hanging out. It takes 7 hours to get through the Mississippi River from NOLA to the Gulf. The scenery was magnificent on the way out. F. Dinner -- 8:30pm Late Seating We selected the late seating. We were seated at table 366 with seating for 8 at an oval table on the lower floor (3) of the Nutcracker Restaurant. Our server, Vipin from India, and his assistant, Kiara from Peru, did a very good job throughout our cruise. Our tablemates were a dating couple (in their 20s) and their parents who spend ½ the year in Wisconsin (which is, I suspect, how we were paired up because we are from Wisconsin). They were delightful people and dinner conversation never lagged. The two-story restaurant has a seating capacity of 1,000+ passengers at each seating. Of note: jeans, t-shirts, tank tops, swimsuits, robes, and bare feet are prohibited in the Dining Restaurant at all times. Shorts are permitted at lunch only. However, we did see a number of people wearing jeans (our teenagers did on a regular basis), shorts and t-shirts for dinner even on formal nights. Part III - Food! Royal Caribbean's meals met our expectations. There was good variety. There are 2 specialty restaurants on the ship--Chops Grille Steakhouse and Portofino Italian Restaurant. There is a per-person fee for these restaurants. There is a for-fee Johnny Rockets and Ben & Jerry's. Free food is available in the main dining room, The Windjammer, Jade, Cafe Promenade and room service (for-fee late at night). We did not feel the need to eat at any of the specialty restaurants for dinner because the food in the main dining room was sufficient. A. Always Available On the Vitality menu every day were the following items: Traditional Caesar Salad, Linguini with Pomodoro Sauce, Broiled Filet of Atlantic Salmon, Grilled Chicken Breast with Rosemary, Grilled Black Angus Steak, Top Sirloin with Herb Butter, and sides of Mashed Potatoes, Rice, and Vegetable of the Day. B. Our Favorite Breakfast Items I enjoyed the fresh-squeezed orange juice (US$4), but I also loved the availability of English muffins and corned beef hash at the buffet. There was a large variety of foods, including many Asian foods, for breakfast. I liked the Mango Water, too. C. Our Favorite Lunch Items I enjoyed tremendously the Indian food at the Jade restaurant. There was also hamburgers and mashed potatoes, and chicken. D. Our Favorite Appetizer My son liked the Onion Tart, while I appreciated the wide variety of salads. We all loved the escargot and the endless supply of bread that day (to sop up all of the garlic butter!). E. Our Favorite Soups My son loved the cold soups, while I liked the warm ones. My son's friend declared the Potato with jalapeo to be a winner. F. Our Favorite Salads All of them. Honestly, the focaccia and tomato was great, but so were all the others. G. Our Favorite Entrees Any fish -- including the sea bass and the sole -- was great. The linguine was appreciated by the boys, as was the lobster tail. I loved the lamb shank and the Christmas Day turkey dinner. H. Our Favorite Desserts Cherries jubilee, crème brulee, and anything chocolate. I. Buffet I loved the warm scones available in the Windjammer. They were usually only there around 2:30-3:30pm. I also enjoyed the small sandwiches available in the Cafe Promenade on the 5th floor. The availability of Indian food was appreciated. J. Room Service We didn't use room service. Part IV - Entertainment A. Movies All the movies were shown in the Cinema. They were mostly releases from about a year ago. We did not watch any movies in the Cinema. B. Shows The Celebrity Theatre is gorgeous, with comfortable seating and good sight lines. We did not see any shows in the theater. C. Casino Large casino filled with the usual. We did not use the casino. D. Spa I did not use the spa. The prices are just too darn high. E. Outdoor Pools and Hot tubs. They were busy all day when we were at sea and the air was warm. The pools are chlorinated salt water. The hot tubs are fresh water. There are fresh water showers near each pool and hot tub. We liked that the hot tubs stayed open late -- after midnight. F. Indoor Pool and Hot Tubs The indoor pool is for adult use only. The pools are chlorinated salt water. The hot tubs are fresh water. There are fresh water showers near each pool and hot tub. We liked that the hot tubs stayed open late -- after midnight. G. In-room TV There were a number of closed-circuit ship channels and satellite stations (Global CNN, ESPN, Eye on CBS, Sky News, and a few others) available on the TV in the cabin. Pay-per-view movies were also available. You can also order room service and check your current account on the TV as well. H. Holiday Stuff The ship was decked out in its Christmas finery with a large (huge!) tree on the Promenade on deck 5 and wreaths hung there, as well. There was a large Christmas display (complete with running toy train) at the entrance to the Windjammer. There were parades every evening and Santa arrived on Christmas Day with toys for everyone from age 0-17. On Christmas Eve day, we, as Emerald members, received a plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries and cookies in our room. It was a pleasant surprise. Part V - Cruise Critic Get-Togethers A. Sailaway Party As a group, the Cruise Critic folks had arranged (on the boards) to get together at sailaway at the Sky Bar on Deck 11. About 10 showed up and we had a great time. B. Meet & Mingle Party We signed up for the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle gathering on the RCCL web site. We received an email confirmation that a party would take place. Upon our arrival in our cabin, we received an envelope containing an invitation to the party, set for 11:30 am on Sunday (our first day at sea). At the appointed time we arrived at the Dungeon. In total, about 40 folks attended. We had a great time meeting and greeting our fellow cruise critics. Light refreshments were provided. C. Slot Pull We did not arrange a slot pull. D. Cabin/Poker Crawl We did not arrange a cabin/poker crawl. Part VI - Health Concerns A. Smoking Smoking was permitted in certain areas on the ship. Although we are very sensitive to smoke, we could not detect any smoke smell in our cabin. The only place that the allowed smoking really disturbed me was in the Two Poets pub on Deck 5. Because this is an enclosed space, you could smell the smoke in many places on the Deck 5 Promenade. They had every right to smoke in the appointed areas of the ship, and unfortunately they did. B. General Cleanliness of the Ship In a word: impeccable. You could not take a stroll without witnessing some type of cleaning going on at all hours. The ship was constantly being cleaned: floors, walls, fixtures, everything! C. Viruses Although some other ships were hit with Norovirus (and it made the news) over this time, I heard of no such outbreak on our ship. E. Seasickness The seas were choppy on the last day, but I didn't notice anyone in distress. Part VII - Ship Notes A. Ship and Crew We were very impressed with the ship and crew and they were all very friendly and competent. The ship and furnishings were in very good shape. She was very clean. B. The Shops There was something on sale each day. Realize that if you forget something, you can buy it on the ship, but necessities are expensive. Deodorant, mints, dental floss, candy bars are all available, but not at a price you might want to pay. My advice: remember to bring the essentials, even if that includes M&Ms! C. Internet Service The good news: there are plenty of computer terminals with internet access on the ship. The bad news: it is expensive. D. Children Being a holiday cruise, our ship had a number of children on board. They behaved very well. Part VIII - The Ports We visited three ports. A. Falmouth, Jamaica There really is not much to do in Falmouth. Falmouth is good only in its proximity to both Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Because we did not want to sit on buses or in taxis for a long time, we did not schedule an outing. Instead, we wanted to help the local economy by shopping in the straw market just outside of the gated and fenced-in port. We wandered and bought a few things. I was not feeling well (too much heat) and so I went back to the ship early and my husband and the two teens kept shopping. At some point, my husband noticed a Jamaican police officer (there were dozens in view all around the port) taking too much interest in how much money he was carrying. Fearing a confrontation with an armed man, my husband took the boys and their shopping inside the port. We did get many Jamaican craft items before then and did enjoy the port. B. George Town, Grand Cayman We tendered off the ship at about 10:30am in Grand Cayman and found a bunch of people selling Stingray City tours. We booked one for US$40 per person, including transportation to and from the boat, 45 minutes at Stingray City, 45 minutes at a coral reef (snorkeling), snorkeling equipment, and non-alcoholic beverages. We left at 11am and were back by 2pm. It was a good trip with great experiences. C. Cozumel, Mexico We were late getting into Cozumel because of a medical situation on the ship that forced us to return to Grand Cayman immediately after leaving the port. We stayed an hour later in port, though, in an attempt to make up the time. We left the ship and caught a taxi to Paradise Beach. There, we hung out for about 4 hours. The cost to get to the beach was US$14 for a taxi of 4 people. The cost to get in was US$2 if you just wanted a chair and access to the beach, toilet, changing rooms, and pools; it was US$14 if you wanted to also play on their floating climbing things in the water, kayak, and bungee jump on the trampoline. No one bothered us on the beach and I enjoyed myself sitting under the palm trees. We had lunch which was US$91 including 15% tip (already included). Lunch was 2 smoothies, 1 daquiri and 1 margarita, ceviche platter, nacho platter, and 2 large chicken burritos. It was easy to catch a cab back (US$14) to the International Pier and then shop a bit (Los Cinco Soles has a branch at the pier now, along with many other shops) before we got back on the ship. I. Days At Sea Between ports, we had three at sea days. They were good, although the first and last days were a bit chilly (in the 70s) and windy, so sunbathing wasn't a given. J. Speakers/Entertainment We really didn't pay much attention to these on this trip. Part IX - Tipping The service personnel on Royal Caribbean receive meager wages and rely on your tips for income. While Royal Caribben says it is customary to offer gratuities to the ship's personnel who service you on the voyage, it really is expected, and it's something you should figure into your cruise budget. Our tips were paid on our cruise charge which was what our personnel preferred (we asked) rather than cash. We did tip extra to everyone for their good work. On our evaluation, we also included the names of people who had gone that extra mile for us. We have heard in past cruises that this is a great way to recognize people and it can result in a monetary bonus for people whose names are written down often. Part X -- Crown & Anchor Society On this cruise, we were select members and so we received a "Welcome Letter" which invited us to a events on the cruise. If you have taken a previous voyage and are not a member of the Crown & Anchor Society, sign up. It's free. Benefits include a express lines at embarkation, priority disembarkation, some small cabin welcome gifts, very minor casino, wine and spa discounts, a cocktail party, and upgrades (whenever possible). Some exclusions apply. Part XI - Disembarkation and Customs A. Disembarkation Disembarkation ("exiting of the ship at the end of your cruise"). Breakfast was served on the buffet and in the restaurant. Disembarkation went smoothly. Earlier in the week, everyone completed surveys which were used to prioritize passengers. Clearly those folks needing to catch plane and train connections or who were on escorted tours in New Orleans had highest priority. Crown & Anchor Society members had priority within their color group. Color-coded disembarkation luggage tags were issued to all cabins, and passengers were instructed to place the tags on their luggage and put it outside their cabins prior to 11:00pm Friday night. We were self-disembarking which meant we carried all of our luggage (not easy with 4 backpacks, 5 carry-ons and only 4 people, but we made it. We met on the 4th floor at 7:45am after breakfast and were off the ship, through customs and immigration and outside the pier by 8:30am. B. Customs US citizens are permitted 1 liter of alcohol and $800 worth of Duty Free goods per person. If under the limit, all you needed to do was to declare the total value. Anything greater had to be itemized (declared) and a duty paid, if requested. C. Transportation Options to Airport There were transfers available through the cruise line which would take you on bus to the local airport, taxis were available, as were hotel shuttles. We chose to take a taxi and it was $62 (with tip) for 4 people from the cruise terminal to the airport. D. New Orleans Airport Upon arrival at the airport, we proceeded to the Delta check-in. It took us less than 15 minutes to turn in our bags and less than 10 minutes to clear security. Delta charges $25 per checked bag (of less than 50 lbs) for the first checked bag per person. We checked 1 bag for $25. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
EMBARKATION: We flew non-stop from Washington,D.C. to New Orleans on Dec.21 and stayed with our children and grandchildren at the Marriott Springhill Suites in the warehouse district. We particularly like Springhill Suites because they ... Read More
EMBARKATION: We flew non-stop from Washington,D.C. to New Orleans on Dec.21 and stayed with our children and grandchildren at the Marriott Springhill Suites in the warehouse district. We particularly like Springhill Suites because they include a free breakfast. The Hotel is close enough to the pier so that our kids just walked with their luggage to the pier. We took a taxi, left our luggage with the porters and were on board the ship within fifteen to twenty minutes..best embarkation ever!! We loved sailing on the Mississippi River..much more interesting than going right into the ocean. SHIP INTERIOR: The Navigator of the Seas is still a beautiful vessel! We sailed a few years ago on her sister ship, Explorer of the Seas, so we knew our way around at once. Our staterooms were on deck three, oceanview..we had four cabins side by side...our daughter and her husband had connecting cabins with their three children which is a perfect arrangement, because, among other things, it allows them to have two bathrooms. The cabins are beautifully designed, with plenty of storage behind mirrors, shelves in the closets and great lighting! Our cabin attendant was fine, and did the towel animals almost every evening which is always entertaining. They were especially cute in our grandchildren's cabin. We really did not ask for anything special except for a bucket of ice each day, however, our grandkids' cabin did require a bit more effort. DINING ROOM: We were at table #291 and table #294. There were twenty of us altogether in our party, all cousins, who had decided to take this cruise. My travel agent was able to link the two tables, so we had two oval tables together on deck three in the Nutcracker Dining Room. Our server, Ivor, and his assistants, Robert and Ruben were FABULOUS!!! This was the best service we have ever had on any cruise and the dining room experience can make or break a cruise! The food is adequate..not gourmet, but tasty! The soups are superb, especially the cold fruit soups, and the desserts were always good. They had lobster tails two nights, which were fine, and they had prime rib, which was also very good. They also offer a menu for those who are trying to be calorie conscious, which is quite satisfactory. We did not use any of the specialty restaurants although one of my grandchildren went to Johnny Rockets, which was just okay! ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment on this ship was my greatest disappointment. I have the feeling that Royal Caribbean is using their entertainment budget to enhance the programs on their newer and larger ships, and are neglecting their older ships. The performers are talented, but the productions were not worthy of their talent. The costumes were cheap, there were no sets and until the third program, I did not even know they had an orchestra. The ice show was the only show that was really professionally done and it was excellent!!! The Schooner Bar also had a pianist with an amazing repertoire and he packed the place every night!! MISCELLANEOUS: The only port we had not been to was Jamaica, which was okay, but the guides never forgot to remind us that they wanted to be tipped. We went to Paradise Beach in Cozumel, which is the best beach of all and the most reasonable for what you get, and in the Caymans we went to the Royal Palms Beach Club, where our daughter had reserved a cabana and four beach chairs in advance for $100. It was expensive but lovely. The hotels on the Caymans do not give day passes at Christmas, so there were not too many options since we had already done the Stingray thing. Our disembarkation was easy. We had an eleven o'clock flight back to D.C. so we arranged for an early disembarkation..the process is not quite as organized as the embarkation, but we purchased transfers for a quick bus ride via Royal Caribbean, and went quickly through customs. This was really our best cruise ever and can't wait to sail again!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Embarkation: The port of New Orleans was pretty organized but not as organized as Oasis and Allure. We were checked in and on the ship within 45 minutes. Cabin: We had a Superior Balcony cabin on deck 7 forward. The room was in good ... Read More
Embarkation: The port of New Orleans was pretty organized but not as organized as Oasis and Allure. We were checked in and on the ship within 45 minutes. Cabin: We had a Superior Balcony cabin on deck 7 forward. The room was in good shape except for some of the droors that were pretty knicked up, but it didn't bother us much. Also it still had one of the older Tvs. We were very close to the elevators and it was very convientant to the promenade. Dining: We ate in the main dining room 5 of the 7 nights. Food was overall good, with a few bad dishes. Our servers Ali from Turkey and Iwanai were great and very personable and not forced. We were a group of 2 and we were at a 4 top but the other 2 never showed. Ports: In Grand Cayman we did the Dolpin adventure (push, pull, and swim) which was excellent. The facility was very nice and very modern. In Falmouth we did a Mountian Valley Rafting tour was overall okay. The bus ride was a good hour, which was longer than expected. The rafting part was very fun and relaxing, while the activities afterward drug on. Shows: We saw all of the shows in the main theatre along with the ice show. The production shows were All Access and Ballroom Fever. All Acess was a fast paced pop and rock show which I really enjoyed. Ballroom Fever was okay, there was minimal sets, plus we don't really ballroom dancing. The guest entertainers were good except for the juggler. The other guests were the Platters and Vox Audio were both excellent. Crew: We felt like overall the crew seemed more confortable and more friendly than on Oasis and Allure. Like I already said our wait staff was awesome. We gave our wow card to our server Ali. Overall a fantastic cruise, and we would return to the Naviagtor any day! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This is a review of the Navigator of the Seas, sailing date Nov 17, 2012. Our group was my wife, myself, our children (ages 20, 12, and 12) and my wife's (mid 70s) parents. As a general statement I believe the crew on any given ... Read More
This is a review of the Navigator of the Seas, sailing date Nov 17, 2012. Our group was my wife, myself, our children (ages 20, 12, and 12) and my wife's (mid 70s) parents. As a general statement I believe the crew on any given ship will make or break the entertainment value of the vacation. The crew on the Navigator just didn't seem to care and weren't trying to hide it. We are a pretty laid back, self-entertaining group and don't expect to be waited on hand and foot, so we can and did have a good time despite the crew. That said I could not in good conscience recommend this ship/itinerary to someone. I don't like reviews where someone just says a cruise or hotel room is bad or good. I need to know *why* you thought so. If I know the why then I can better determine if that would be good/bad for me. So I want to provide a review where I detail what was good/bad along with some of the 'why.' Boarding: We flew in the day before and spent the night at the Embassy SUites. At 12:30pm We walked the two blocks to the whale lot where there were porters loading luggage onto carts. There was a bit of confusion because some folks who were Carnival passengers were trying to give them luggage. Our bags were already tagged so it was a quick drop and go situation. The porters tagged you bags if you didn't already have them. Note that the Riverwalk access to the cruise ship walkway (it's still marked like that) is closed. The doors have a heavy chain and padlock on them. It's easy enough to walk in the street, about 1 block from the whale lot to the terminal. There was a police officer (where the port road turns onto Julia street) managing the vehicle and pedestrian traffic. At this point organization took a vacation. We didn't know it at the time but a lot of the embarkation problems were related to the fact that the Navigator had just come trans-atlantic. I was later told that because the ship was previously trans-atlantic and "new" to the port all the various authorities were being more detailed in checking things out. This applied not only to disembarking passengers, but also checking out the crew. (Imagine Coast Guard, and Immigration and CUstoms officers diligently following the rules.) I'm not saying anything is wrong with this, just making note that it cause a lot of confusion and delays. I hope this experience was not indicative of a normal boarding in NOLA, because it was hands down the worst I've experienced out of 7 cruises. I'll give an example: One RCL employee was telling embarking passengers to go back the other way because there were still 500 passengers from the previous cruise still disembarking. We ignored him along with a few others and asked a bit further down and another RCL employeed told us to continue ahead as they've been boarding passengers for the last hour. We then were able start the boarding process. Entertainment: Nightly shows: The dancing shows were fine. (Nothing spectacular or particulary impressive.) There were two different comedians which were both very good. There was a Platters group that was fantastic. Daily entertainment: Our group agreed that overall this was weak. This was compounded by the fact that the first two days were sea days. There was just very little going on those two days. This was especially disappointing to me since I enjoy having a drink on the pool deck and watching contests or listening to music. Two days at sea and the highlight of the pool deck was the ice cream machine. The bingo was run well The trivia and sudoku contests in the schooner bar were okay The movie selection in the theatre was geared towards a 20-40 crowd. I would liked to have enjoyed more movies there but the seats were were so incredibly uncomfortable I couldn't make myself go back. My father in law went once also and said it was like sitting on a board. Dining: MDR: The food was good, the service decent. Nothing spectacular. The service of course varies from table to table. For some odd reason they served the Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday night. Windjammer: Only once did I find the Windjammer crowded. It was a sea day right at noon. Any other time we have no trouble getting a table or having to wait in line for food. The food itself was fine and well kept up. The only issue I had with Windjammer was it closed at 9:30 pm every night. Which would not have been a problem except there were no late night buffets, so you were left with room service or the Cafe Promenade (See below.) Cafe Promenade: This place was just downright awful. I've seen it well done on the Freedom of the Seas, so I know it can be done. I was served the worst Starbucks latte I've ever had. I threw half of it away. The worst part though was the service. I'll give an example: There is a sign with the available kinds of pizza. (Only once was I ever there and they actually had all 3 kinds listed on the sign.) I asked the woman at the counter what kind of pizza they had since I could see there was only 1 pan under the heat lamp. She gave me a dirty look and gestured at the sign. So I play along and ask for pepperoni which was listed on the sign. She turned around and looked at the pan, turned back around and told me they only have cheese pizza. Which wouldn't be so bad except that cheese pizza wasn't one of the kinds listed on the sign. Bar Service: I've been on some ships where I felt like I was constantly getting mobbed by bar service folks. That was definitely not an issue on the Navigator. Soda Package: In my opinion, the soda package on the Navigator is a complete waste of money. They have apparently changed how this whole situation is handled because if you have the soda package you either get fountain soda or soda poured from a 2 liter bottle. The problem with the 2 liter bottles is every time I got it, it was flat. I'm convinced others figured this out as well which further aggravated the problem. What then happened is people would not get soda at the places that had the 2 liters which caused long lines at the other places. Most often those places were the bars, which then angered the bartenders and others waiting for alcoholic drinks. I honestly believe you could solve the issue by not having the bottles at all or marking them with a timestamp. Note that if you didn't have a soda package they would whip out a cold can of soda and provide glass. (I'm tempted to write letter to the Coca-Cola company about the issue.) I'm not sure I will ever buy the soda package on RCL again because of this. Wifi: This ship does not yet have wifi throughout the ship. I was able to get a very weak signal in our room on deck 9 forward but never enough to actually get a internet connection. I never had any trouble getting a connection on the pool deck, windjammer, royal promenade, or of course in the internet cafe. Teen club: My twins went to the 12-14 club and activities. My daughter didn't enjoy it and gave it up after the second day. My son kept going throughout the entire cruise. Most of the activities did seem more boy oriented. The only issue I had was once when I went to check on him in the teen club room. I stepped inside the room and the RCL woman freaked out and ran over at me. She kept telling me that I couldn't come in there. She wouldn't shut up so I started talking over her and said I came to check on my son. She kept saying I can come in there. I asked how to I get a hold of him, and she said I would have to talk to her and she could get him. I then asked how if she was also in the room how could get a hold of her without coming into the room? At that she stopped talking and just stood there with her mouth open like that had never occurred to her. By that time we had the attention of all the kids in the room. I just talked to my son quickly and then left. (I've never had a problem stepping into the room to get the attention of staff on the Carnival kids club.) Excursions: Our excursion in Grand Cayman was cancelled due to high wind. We had left early to catch the tender and shop a bit so we didn't find out it was cancelled until we were standing there waiting for the group to show. I did discover that the excursion desk had left a message on our room phone indicating the cancellation. So I give them props for trying to contact us. Disembarkation: It wasn't as bad as embarkation, but having been through many others this experience was consistent with rest of the voyage. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Embarking was HORRIBLE- parking directions from Royal Caribbean were wrong, then parking filled up. Traffic getting to parking was horrible. We walked in the doors of the terminal at 2 p.m. becuase RCI sent an email saying not to come ... Read More
Embarking was HORRIBLE- parking directions from Royal Caribbean were wrong, then parking filled up. Traffic getting to parking was horrible. We walked in the doors of the terminal at 2 p.m. becuase RCI sent an email saying not to come before 1:30 p.m. We waited 60 minutes in long line to get up to security which really wasn't that bad because the line was moving pretty frequently. But the real kicker was waiting ANOTHER 90 minutes in the security line after they split us from the main line and into one of five security lines. Our line just didn't move. Other people walked into the terminal building and right through security because they were directed to another line. We were just unlucky and the security personnel seemed oblivious to the problem. Because we were one of the final few to board the ship, it was pure chaos on the deck because people were mingling about after the security drill and no one provided us any direction as to what to do or where to go once we stepped aboard. We were so worn out by the process we skipped formal dinner, grabbed a bite in the Windjammer (yummy) and spent the evening settling in to our cabin. The rest of the cruise was wonderful, thank goodness. We were especially pleased with our cabin overlooking the Promenade. It would not be good for those who want to fall asleep early, though, as the sound from the evening's entertainment was pretty audible in our cabin. The upside was we could watch the parades and entertainment from our room. We were quite pleased with the wide variety of activities and entertainment on the ship. And the cruise director (Jimmy) and Activities Manager (Tom) and their staff were highly entertaining. Our first two days aboard were at sea and we were never at a loss of something to do. The ship was large, but not so large that you couldn't get to where you needed to be relatively quickly (if you didn't mind taking the stairs.) Main dining room was good, particularly at dinner. Though we were a little surprised to be seated with a large party of 10, seeing as it was just me and my husband. We figured they would sit us with other couples or smaller parties. Oh well, we had a great time. We did eat lunch one time in the main dining room and decided it was too slow of service and the food was not any better than the Windjammer Cafe. Windjammer Cafe had a lot of variety including plenty of healthy options and plenty of comfort food and sweets. The only downside was going during peak times meant it could be difficult to find the type of seat we preferred and the buffet lines could be a bit chaotic at times. We signed up for the Murder Mystery party in Portofino (specialty restaurant.) Well worth the $$$. Tons of fun and great menu! We were warned about Jamaica so we didn't have high expectations. Turned out to be our favorite port. We went on horseback ride and climbed Dunn River Falls through Yardie Tours which we booked through Cruises Only's Marriot Rewards web site. Grand Cayman was gorgeous - we did stingray city plus 2 snorkle stops with Captain Marvin's tours. Cozumel we took advise from Trip Advisor and hired a private taxi driver for the day who gave us a great tour of the island including a tour of a small chocolate factory and a tequila tour/tasting. Turned out to be an expensive day because we bought jewelry, chocolate, and tequila in addition to paying for 5 hours of a private taxi but it was nice to get out of the crowds. We look forward to our next cruise! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Hotel: Loved the W in Fort Lauderdale which we got for a steal - $99 bid on priceline. They have the Acura experience so we got a free ride to the port the next day around 10:30. Embarkation: Arrived at port and no line up ... Read More
Hotel: Loved the W in Fort Lauderdale which we got for a steal - $99 bid on priceline. They have the Acura experience so we got a free ride to the port the next day around 10:30. Embarkation: Arrived at port and no line up whatsoever. Checked in and had to wait around 15-20 mins until boarding was allowed. Previously we've generally been able to get into our rooms before 1:00 but this time the corridors were closed until then. We travel light so not an issue checking out the ship with hand luggage in tow. Ship: Loved the ship but amazing it seems so much smaller than our impressions of Explorer, the other ship in this category we sailed several years ago. Staff: Senior staff very visible and friendly. Cabin: location was good - 7th floor Promenade above and across from guest services area. Didn't hear anything from promenade - although think one of the first nights some music might have drifted up from Pub but not even loud enough to make out what it was. Only negative if anyone was planning to spend a lot of time in cabin would be that you get the flash from the various photo areas coming through promenade window. Food: Good, as always, but definitely see a change from when I last sailed royal. I just remember having harder time deciding on food on previous Royal cruises. Having a sweet tooth, the desserts, I think, definitely let them down. Main Dining Room: Server Murat - exceptional. If anyone sailing on Navigator soon ask for him. Think the drinks server was overextended and I remember on previous cruises the speciality shooter/Glass was heavily promoted nightly whereas I had a hard time getting one - couldn't the first night - but after I ordered I saw more being served in our section. Saying that I did get a couple of complimentary ones so service was amazing once I saw the drink server. Shows: They had the Nelson Brothers who did a retrospective of their Dad's (Ricky Nelson) music. Pretty good and they did a second set on promenade which was a mixture of their music and their dads. Didn't see any of the other shows other than the last night. Coco Cay: I'm not a beach person, but think this is the most disappointing of the three cruise line owned islands. Half moon cay has to be the best. Cozumel: Recommend the cooking class with unlimited margarita, rum punch, tequila etc. Grand Cayman: Didn't do any excursions. Just did a bit of shopping. Photography I saw them advertise pictures on disk and thought, finally, seamless, easy process like disney... But no. Hit and miss as to whether photographer took your seapass or not before taking photos so obviously if they didn't, chances of photo automatically appear in computer folder was slim. Online Photo Review: 3 or 4 terminals were set up where you could swipe your seapass and see the photos registering against your account. However, major issues with this - in our case whenever we swiped pass it would show photos of previous cruiser who had checked system, not ours. Now whether this was because we both had to get seapass reset mid-week, I don't know. Heard other cruisers complain that not all their pictures were appearing or some wrong photos in there. I know you could delete pictures you didn't want included but not sure what the chance was off having a disk with random photos on it if you didn't go through every single photo online as I believe they use photo recognition to pull the photos together. Cost: $249 for disk. Not sure if there was a maximum number of images allowed or not but would hope not at that price. Bars: Didn't really spend much time in the bars but service was good when we did. Only issue we had was vintages if we sat at the tables out front as one of the bar staff didn't seem to make it to those tables even when inside was pretty empty. Disembarkation: we waited in lounge until around 10:00 as no rush to get off as we had a late afternoon flight. with so many people walking off with luggage, us included, it can be extremely difficult to get onto elevators and we ended up getting an elevator going up as all the down elevators were full. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
* Background Information This was a 5-night cruise during the Thanksgiving week break. Not surprisingly, the demographic was very family heavy - over 900 kids on board and this was very noticeable. We were also traveling with family: ... Read More
* Background Information This was a 5-night cruise during the Thanksgiving week break. Not surprisingly, the demographic was very family heavy - over 900 kids on board and this was very noticeable. We were also traveling with family: two sets of grandparents (over 55), two sets of middle-aged adults (35-54), and 2 teens (13 and 16). Everybody has cruised before to varying degrees. As a group, we've been on Carnival, NCL, Princess and RCCL. My DH and I have been on 5. * Embarkation We all traveled on embarkation day from different points in Florida. No big problem, but it was a little slow checking in. I think part of this is because on previous cruises, we had the opportunity to fill out the health questionnaire while you are standing on line. We didn't get the forms until we were at the counter; hence, large family groups took up quite a bit of time with the boarding agents. Cabins were ready when we boarded and luck of the draw, we got our luggage with lightening speed! * Ship Info /Cabin Info I was looking forward to being "wow"ed as I had read so much about the dramatic RCCL ships. I wasn't. NOS is mostly in fine shape and seemed very clean. However, for me, the hallway and cabin dEcor was reminiscent of a chain hotel - dated colors and just not very pretty. Certainly not awe-inspiring. The Royal Promenade was nice, but it didn't seem as big and as glamorous in person as it did in pictures. Overall, I prefer the being-at-sea feeling of other ships to the being-in-a-mall feeling that the Royal Promenade gave me. I did like the dEcor and cozy feel of Vintages and Two Poets; most of the bar and eatery seating areas were comparable to other lines. The main dining rooms were the most attractive rooms on the ship -very pretty. Our cabin, a D2 balcony, was clean and had a spacious layout - as big as a mini-suite we've had on another line. As cruise ships go, I liked the showers with the rounded sliding door and handheld adjustable showerheads. The bed was rounded at the foot corners, which is nice when you're passing by it to get to the balcony or trying to edge your way around it in the dark, but weird when you're sleeping and your feet dangle off the corner. (My DH does that anyway at home, so he didn't even notice!) One small thing that leaped out at me as being in sad condition were the balcony railings; bare, cracking and unvarnished. Definitely not ship-shape. Except for this one detail and the Holiday Inn Express dEcor, I would've given the cabins a 5. * Activities / Entertainment / Kid's Clubs My DH and I are more relaxers then doers on sea days, but the offered activities seemed comparable with other lines. Members of our party enjoyed the usual trivia, bingo, and "name that tune" events. Entertainment was mainly comparable also, although I thought the production shows with the ships' singers and dancers seemed a little "chintzier" in appearance if not talent. We enjoyed some of the other featured performers more. One of the deciding factors when we opted for this cruise over other lines was the seemingly overwhelming number of things for kids. However, the teen programs were largely pronounced "lame". I do have a suspicion that perhaps our teens did not put themselves out there enough to take full advantage. I tried to look into Fuel, but true to their word, no adults allowed - I couldn't even get a peek "but do not worry, we take very good care of them!" My younger nephew and I luckily stumbled across a free hour at the arcade; other than that there was a charge for all the games, which was disappointing. I imagine that could rack up quite a bill for some parents! The kids did enjoy one open skate at the ice rink (bring socks and long pants), but found lines longer than they where willing to wait when they tried the rock-climbing wall. My younger nephew was very disappointed to find the basketball area largely taken over by "big" kids most of the trip, and he tried several times. I didn't venture up there, so I have no idea if they attempt to provide time slots for different ages and he just showed up at the wrong times or it's a free-for-all. * Service Generally, with very few exceptions, this was where RCCL shined. We found the crew to be very friendly, right up there with the best of any other. Cabin stewards seemed to be somewhat less present then we are used to from other lines. We didn't even see ours at all the first day and we had to seek him out several times during the trip, but he was very nice, we always got everything we wanted, and he even left us a complimentary bottle of champagne. We had My Time Dining but kept the same table with the same servers each night, as we were a group of ten. Our wait staff was excellent, friendly and attentive and took very good care of the kids, remembering and following up each night with their likes and dislikes. However, there seemed to be a very bad flow problem with the kitchen that was beyond their control - perhaps this is just My Time Dining. Some nights the pacing was fine, and other nights it was horrendous with terrible waits between courses. * Food & Beverage Royal Caribbean falls short here, IMHO. Having been on one previous cruise and reading many reviews, I wasn't expecting much - and it was a little worse than I was hoping for. I had maybe three items I thought were "good", all in the MDR. Everything else was cafeteria quality at best, or take-one-bite-and-put-down-your-fork at worst. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer, and I stuck mostly with cook-to-order eggs and salad bar. My parents seemed to fare better in the MDR for these meals. This is more of a service item I guess, and I can understand some reasons why they do it, but I didn't like having to ask for water/tea/juice/coffee as opposed to getting my own at the buffet. I wouldn't have minded so much if it didn't frequently result in lines and feeling like you had to take the lone glass of whatever was put up rather than what you wanted in order to get anything at all to drink. During our particular cruise, they also started running out of things that seem silly - like orange juice and butter! The rolls in the MDR on the last night had to be leftovers, they were hard as rocks. Starting on day 3 out of 5, we also started getting "sorry, we're out" for different requested brands of beers and alcohol at various bars. We actually overheard one Windjammer staffer mimicking to another all the things guests must say over and over "Can I please have orange juice with no ice? "Do you have any butter?". So it sounded like this could be a regular occurrence. Personally, I'd rather be charged more per night, if that's what it takes to find everything still available on every day of my cruise. * Port & Shore Excursions We stopped at Grand Cayman and Cozumel, and enjoyed both ports but did not use any of the ship excursions. Both ports are very easy to do on your own. When someone in your family becomes less mobile with time, you start noticing things you wouldn't have previously; the pier at Cozumel is quite long. Once we got off the ship and there was no tram or cart like they have at some ports, we inquired and the ship personnel on the dock sent my DH back up to Deck 5 for a wheelchair where he was then told no, you can't take a wheelchair off the ship. Lesson learned. * Disembarkation Other than the typically long wait for an elevator because of having bags and older people in our party, this was quick and easy. We liked being able to wait in our cabins, and we showed up at our designated departure lounge a few minutes late and were able to just keep walking right off. * Summary I decided to write this review largely because I think RCCL gets higher marks than they deserve here. After spending quite a bit of time on the boards as I always do before a cruise, I had hopeful expectations that this trip on Navigator of the Seas would be a much better experience then I had previously many years ago. But it wasn't. We also researched Princess, NCL and Carnival for Caribbean cruises offered during this same week. Although we ended up getting a better rate from our TA, at decision time this cruise was the highest priced per person per night out of all that we considered - in other words, the worst value. But we decided to chance it for the supposed "wow" factor people say the RCCL ships have, the activities for the kids, and the convenient 5-night length. To a person, even the kids, our party agreed they have preferred other cruises to this one. I am not saying anything as harsh as I will never go on RCCL again, but it is highly unlikely if we are the ones doing the choosing. I also don't want anyone to think we had a bad time - we enjoyed our vacation. But we feel RCCL's product is average at best. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We did the Christmas cruise (husband and I). I've been on other Christmas cruises and didn't particularly like the large amount of kids/families. However, on this ship I never felt crowded or that the cruise was taking on a ... Read More
We did the Christmas cruise (husband and I). I've been on other Christmas cruises and didn't particularly like the large amount of kids/families. However, on this ship I never felt crowded or that the cruise was taking on a Disney theme. In fact, there were a few times we looked at each other and asked "where is everyone?" We had dinner in Chops and Portofino. Both were great. I felt it was well worth the extra money. It was a shame since we had some nice table partners at our large dining room. We only had dinner once in the main dining room. We both felt the staff kept the ship clean and that anytime that we were near the windjammer buffet, it felt clean and well kept. In fact, we ran into some of the best crew members in the windjammer. One night we had just wanted a light quite dinner with a bottle and spent it in the windjammer. This was not something we had ever done before and something I never imagined that we would enjoy quite so much. One suggestion that we had for the ship was to come up with more small crowd activities. I've seen enough belly flop contests to last for a long long time - and we like to party and have fun. . . i guess it just gets a little old to see the same activities. We had to smile at the changes RCCL made with the Quest game show. It was still fun to watch and we imagine that the new format helps with injuries! We took a rear balcony cabin. It wasn't nice. I would never do that again. The balcony doesn't overlook anything and it was our fault for not checking this ahead of time. We've had other rear cabins that were nice but this ship layout it wasn't good. Don't do it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Navigator of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.3
Dining 4.5 3.9
Entertainment 5.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.1
Family 5.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.4
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.5 4.2

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