Sail Date: April 2018
If you are stopping in Lisbon on your cruise, do not select the tour by Tuk Tuk. We paid almost $100 apiece for what was supposed to be a 3 hour tour. We got barely 2 hours of touring and much of that time was spent sitting and waiting ... Read More
If you are stopping in Lisbon on your cruise, do not select the tour by Tuk Tuk. We paid almost $100 apiece for what was supposed to be a 3 hour tour. We got barely 2 hours of touring and much of that time was spent sitting and waiting to move from one place to another. Total rip-off! Overall, this transatlantic cruise is a good deal. The stops before reaching Southampton were great even though the Lisbon tour was terrible. Some of the entertainment was great but a lot of it was not appealing (ex. a juggler). Singer in the Schooner bar (Anthony Michael is the name, I think) was fantastic as was the Beatles Celebration band. Also the Whitney Houston tribute singer (forgot her name but can still hear the voice). Food is decent overall but had a couple of bad experiences (inedible entrees) in the main dining room and heard about a couple of others (outrageously slow service included) from fellow passengers. Our stateroom attendant was wonderful and made us different towel animals each evening! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose this cruise because the other (Jewel) transatlantic 's destination was Puerto Rico. We were stuck with the dates. Entertainment during the long cold crossing was far below our expectations. Nothing at all of intrest. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the other (Jewel) transatlantic 's destination was Puerto Rico. We were stuck with the dates. Entertainment during the long cold crossing was far below our expectations. Nothing at all of intrest. We appreciated the ice skating show and some evening events. Not all. By far The television showed the same programs on and on... Day by day. Library was almost empty. But....there was a movie shown on the deck every evening....in the Northern Atlantic in November !!!! Not a soul watching but still....every evening There were two or three sunny days. That gave work to the three life-savers in full red regalia standing watch over empty pools. Public spaces were overcrowded since no one could sit outside. We recommend the two waiters of the concierge lounge. Chop's grill was the worst. An example of total incompetence. On two occasions we abandoned our table there to revert to the main sell-service restaurant Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
I like the Voyager class of ships, so I enjoyed the Navigator. But cuts backs are obvious in food, entertainment and activities. Enjoyed the days at sea just wish there had been more to do. I really miss the professional crafters. The ... Read More
I like the Voyager class of ships, so I enjoyed the Navigator. But cuts backs are obvious in food, entertainment and activities. Enjoyed the days at sea just wish there had been more to do. I really miss the professional crafters. The crafts provided by Royal Caribbean are the same old things that they have been doing for years. I don't think that the kits are worth the price. The quality of service on the Navigator was excellent. The crew was very friendly. Enjoyed the Diamond lounge and happy hours. The bar tenders were very attentive and hard working. The dining room staff were very good and even supplied the table with Indian food to share upon request. Had a problem with the excursion desk but all was resolved by the Assistant Manager. I enjoyed all of the ports except Ponta Delgada. There is not much to do there once you have done all the excursions that you are interested in. I have been there too many times. Other ports in the area are more interesting and wish this one would be dropped by Royal Caribbean. I did walk through town and visited the market. I used the time in port to do my gift shopping. As a solo traveler I appreciated the fact that we met for lunch on all the sea days. In the past we did not meet on all the sea days. I wish our crew member who escorted us had stayed for lunch. In the past when they stayed lunch was more interesting because we got an insight into the crew's life on the ship. I am loyal to Royal Caribbean and will continue to sail with them. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2017
Over all the transatlantic cruise was great fun. I do enjoy the "at sea days". I felt the crew was "at a loss" at what to do with this many people on board for so many days. I thought the "meet and mingle" ... Read More
Over all the transatlantic cruise was great fun. I do enjoy the "at sea days". I felt the crew was "at a loss" at what to do with this many people on board for so many days. I thought the "meet and mingle" event was a joke...why did they even bother? So many people....cheap door prize drawings, nothing special, why should we attend this? Agree with several of the other comments...Royal Caribbean is really getting "penny pinching". Now charge a fee for room service beyond basic breakfast. Always trying to see something. Wish they would think about changing the menus in the main dining room. These are the same menus we had last year. Food was "medium" at best. Lunch service in the main dining room was haphazard. Our waiter in the main dining room offered good service and tried very hard to make us happy. They offered movies outside by the pool...but most evenings it was too cold to enjoy. The projector in the main theater didn't seem to focus well. Why couldn't these movies be shown on the in-cabin television...this would have been a nice alternative, especially for the rough days at sea. The same TV shows were shown over and over again....what did they only buy the rights to show one show? I'm feeling a real "class system" between the diamond folks and the non-diamond. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2017
Overall, this cruise was ok. We had taken 2 other transatlantic cruises and this was not as enjoyable as the other two. The cabin was an excellent size but we had to call maintenance 5 times to try to get the thermostat fixed. The ... Read More
Overall, this cruise was ok. We had taken 2 other transatlantic cruises and this was not as enjoyable as the other two. The cabin was an excellent size but we had to call maintenance 5 times to try to get the thermostat fixed. The entire ship needs to be refurbished. The food was acceptable. For the age group of the majority of cruisers, the activities offered were minimal during the day. It would have been very nice to have movies offered during the day instead of poolside at night where it was extremely cold. The Shore Excursion for the most part were enjoyable and the value was acceptable. I usually enjoy the talent on the evening shows but the talent was not as good as the singers and dancers on other cruises we have taken. You can tell that Royal Caribbean has cut off many of the benefits that used to make them special. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2017
Really enjoyed this cruise, The only drawback is the 6 days at sea with no port call. There were plenty of things to do, but you still got bored a little. The ship was nice. We had an inside cabin with a view to the Promenade. Even with ... Read More
Really enjoyed this cruise, The only drawback is the 6 days at sea with no port call. There were plenty of things to do, but you still got bored a little. The ship was nice. We had an inside cabin with a view to the Promenade. Even with all the activity on the Promenade, our cabin was really quite. The food was great on board, we ate most of our dinners in Main dinning, and Breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer, That was only because you could get in and out. Breakfast in Main Dinning took too long. The port calls were great, Azores was outstanding, very green. We toured on our own. Get a local guide from the port entrance. Its cheaper and you get a better tour of the Island. We did this on all ports except for France. We went to Azores, Portugal, Two stops in Spain, France and then Southampton. The only time we used RC excursions was to go to Paris only because it was a 2 1/2 drive. We went on the Paris trip with river lunch. It was not worth the money they wanted.You couldn't see anything on the bus. The people on the left couldn't see what was on the right and the people on the right couldn't see what was on the left. There were no stops to get off and take pictures. Any pictures you took through the windows had a light green hue to them because of the window tint. When we got on the boat to eat lunch, they sat us in the middle of the boat and you couldn't see the sights as you went by them. We were suppose to have a couple of hours free time at the Eiffel Tower, Didn't happen because of the traffic in Paris, we were late getting to the boat. and the boat trip was longer than expected. we got about 30 minutes to look around and shop. They had several other Paris trips, I would suggest taking one that got you there and touring on your own or with a guide. Don't do one that has a lunch. There are plenty of places you can eat when you get there. When we got to Southampton, we stayed a couple of extra days. Some people got off in Paris for a couple of days and took the Chunnel to England to tour before going home. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2017
My only small complaints are that there weren't enough variety of games or cards in the game room. And, the special lobster meal for $29.95 was horrible. The free lobster night was 100% better. Loved the duplicate bridge in the ... Read More
My only small complaints are that there weren't enough variety of games or cards in the game room. And, the special lobster meal for $29.95 was horrible. The free lobster night was 100% better. Loved the duplicate bridge in the afternoon. Was a bit too cold to lay out by the pool. The ports were nice - different than normal repositioning ports. I would have preferred more fun activities scheduled in the morning. The diamond lounge was lovely. The service was wonderful except the crew didn't seem as friendly as on other ships. Overall a great cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
This was our first transatlantic cruise and it was wonderful. There were some minor issues which is why I can't give it a 5. I would give a 4.5 if I could however. There was plenty to do on the ship as they really did try to ... Read More
This was our first transatlantic cruise and it was wonderful. There were some minor issues which is why I can't give it a 5. I would give a 4.5 if I could however. There was plenty to do on the ship as they really did try to offer a variety especially with being at sea for 6 days. I brought along some "things to do" anyhow. I especially enjoyed some of the crew offering basic language classes in Spanish, Portuguese and French. We had "cheat sheets" to carry with us just in case. I checked the Compass every evening to see what was going on the next day. Very good evening shows in the theater. The ice dancing show was awesome. We opted for tours in Ponta Delgada & Lisbon, Portugal as well as Paris, France. Very enjoyable and the tour guides were very informative. The 1st day of touring was rather disorganized and many complained about getting off the ship and getting on it. We were at least 45 minutes late in getting off the ship for our tour. It took us about 30 minutes to get back on but for others it was an hr or more. Amends and improvements were made as we received a 15% credit off our excursion cost plus changes were made going forward to make it easier to get off the ship. However there was still a bit of an issue with getting off at the time indicated which could have been due in part to the tides and where to put the ramps. Not their fault. We were pleased with the food offered but then we were looking for some different options. Our dining room servers, Reynante and Boohpendra, were really good as was our bar server Howard. We sometimes asked what their recommendations were for the main entree and weren't disappointed. We don't usually see the head waiter on our cruises but that wasn't the case this time. Unfortunately I don't recall his name but he came over and talked with us a few times. He asked how everything was going, did we have any concerns with the dining or in other areas of the ship. He was very good. We had MyTime dining for the first time and am going with it again on our next cruise. We weren't happy with our room attendant's service but he could have been new to the position or had too many cabins. Our cabin was set up with 2 towels and 1 small bar of soap for 2 people. I asked for a couple more towels but we didn't get that day or the next morning so we had to ask again. The 3rd time I said I would at least like 1 more towel. We didn't get more soap so I had to spend $19 for a bottle of shower gel. I also had to ask at least 3 times for more toilet paper as we were down to less than 1/2 a roll at one point. We had a bath mat one morning but it was taken away and we didn't see another for at least a week so we used a hand towel. After a week onboard, we received a tube of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion. One day our room didn't receive service so I went to the desk. We were in the cabin when the attendant came the 1st time but we left within 30 minutes. He could have come back but he didn't. We didn't have the card to place in the door to make up the room because he took the card on the 1st day. We did eventually get one back. However, in spite of the issues mentioned, the good outweighed the bad so we have booked another cruise on the same ship for next year. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
This was our first transatlantic cruise and I wasn't sure if we would get bored. But there was plenty to do including bridge lessons and bridge games. There were times that were disorganized such as going out on excursions and in ... Read More
This was our first transatlantic cruise and I wasn't sure if we would get bored. But there was plenty to do including bridge lessons and bridge games. There were times that were disorganized such as going out on excursions and in the Azores it took over an hour to return to the ship because of the security process. But it is a beautiful ship and we enjoyed ourselves. The food was very good and the staff was friendly and tried to make our cruise pleasant. The entertainment was also very good and a few of the shows were excellent. Disembarkation was in Southampton England. Because we were immigration checked our passports on the ship it went smoothly. However the process for doing this was quite long and used up a sea day while waiting to be checked. The excursions we chose were informative and quite nice. We especially enjoyed Paris. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
Flight to Barcelona was 3 1/2 hours late in leaving this was not to bad considering hurricane sandy and the troubles other folks had. Hotel Rivalto was great, room was clean, staff was great, location excellent will definitely go there ... Read More
Flight to Barcelona was 3 1/2 hours late in leaving this was not to bad considering hurricane sandy and the troubles other folks had. Hotel Rivalto was great, room was clean, staff was great, location excellent will definitely go there again. Arrived at ship 1 pm on Sat. very smooth embarkation stateroom was ready dropped off carry on, off to windjammer. Our cabin needed a do over as the carpets were not clean and bathroom was still dirty. our cabin was never really cleaned like previous cruises and if was really was an effort to get it cleaned before 11.30 most mornings even after putting his make room card out at 8 am. Just to say we are really happy go lucky couple with many cruise on rcl, this is my first and probably my last attempt at doing a review. This transatlantic our 7th left a lot to be desired. Food. very disappointed with selection, and quality, our wait staff were excellent, but the food coming out of kitchen was never hot. we were a table of 8 and all had similar complaints. Shows were weak other than ice show and the Platters who did a great job with the oldies, other than these two just fair Day time activities less than exciting, trivia fun, sudoku ok,guest speakers no comment Debarkation was close to 4 hrs from start to finish what a mess, Please RCL bring your product up to your old standards us loyal cruisers have supported you in the past but you will lose us in the future unless you improve your attitude and services. PS Ricardo in the cc lounge is the best assest on the ship, a real gentleman with a great way of taking care of his guests. Overall 6 out of 10 Still love cruising GOING ON A 14 DAY CRUISE WITH A PRESIDENTAL ELECTION IN THE MIDDLE WAS QUITE AN EXPERIENCE ALMOST LIKE BEING IN CONGRESS WHERE THERE WERE TWO SIDES WHO NEVER AGREE GOD BLESS AMERICA Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2012
The process of getting on board the ship was fairly painless. I flew into Ft. Lauderdale and was greeted by the RCCL rep, who directed me to a waiting shuttle bus. I packed for a 15-day cruise, so I had two nearly 50 lb suitcases, plus a ... Read More
The process of getting on board the ship was fairly painless. I flew into Ft. Lauderdale and was greeted by the RCCL rep, who directed me to a waiting shuttle bus. I packed for a 15-day cruise, so I had two nearly 50 lb suitcases, plus a carry-on. That's a lot of luggage for a lone woman to handle! There were carts available at the airport to rent, but it would have been nice to have a porter to help. I was there about 2 hours before boarding time, but was allowed to board early. There was a long line at check-in, even though I had filled out all the forms online which stated it would make check-in quicker and easier. The first 8 days of cruisng was a REAL vacation! I had a balcony room (which I recommend for anyone who is on a ship that long) and enjoyed watching the ocean whenever I had a chance. The cruise line had a jam packed itinerary for all passengers. I didn't need all the activity, but according to the daily updates, more people than they'd counted on were taking part in the activities. I especially enjoyed the daily lectures and evening entertainment. The food at the Windjammer was just okay. On a scale of one to ten, I'd have to give it a five. The same with the main dining room. Just okay food. I ate at two specialty restaurants, Chops and Portofino, and the food there was excellent. My cabin steward, Ray, was outstanding. He was so kind to me and though I didn't require much attention, he was always nearby with a smile and willing attitude. The waiters in the main dining room were excellent, as well. I really enjoyed getting to know them. I was seated with 5 of the most interesting and lively women, who I enjoyed tremendously. Thanks to all of them for making dinner time the highlight of my day! There was a fantastic ice dancing show that required getting special tickets. That didn't go so well, in my opinion. We were told tickets would be handed out at 10:00 one morning. (This was the second round of ticket giveaways.) I went down at about ten minutes before hand, and the line already spread over the length of the ship. I probably stood in line for 45 minutes. I believe that could have been handled differently. Why not just have the room attendants leave tickets under the door? On the first day of excursions in Tenerife, it was a nightmare--a complete and utter failure of the activity director (or whoever handled it) to have an organized departure for those taking tours. We stood in line and then were seated, waiting, for over an hour--time that was supposed to have been spent on our tour. After complaining loudly--on the phone and in writing--I was refunded a portion of my fee, and then the following days the tours went smoothly. Hundreds of people were digusted on that day and I'm sure made their voices heard. We had some problems with people saving seats in the Metropolis Theater--when there were signs everywhere, and announcements everywhere, that saving seats was prohibited. Some people just don't like to follow rules. It makes it very frustrating when you go early enough to get a good seat, only to find that someone is saving 8 seats for friends who don't get there until 5 minutes before show time. I believe that could have been handled by having ushers seat everyone. First come, first serve. Instead, people were rude and unkind--on both ends. I didn't visit the movie theater on board one time, primarily because the movies weren't any good. Also, they ran the same movies over and over on TV. It would have been nice to have a better selection. CBS was the TV station providing some shows, and they ran the same shows the entire trip. Why couldn't they have recorded a couple of weeks worth of shows, instead of repeating the same things? My cabin was excellent. The staff was excellent. There was plenty of entertainment for whoever wanted it. So aside from a few glitches, the cruise was fun and left me with mostly good memories. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
While I have a lot of criticism in this review, let me say that we had a great time, and if you really drill down there is no doubt that the value was fantastic on this cruise. There is nowhere, other than staying in your backyard, where ... Read More
While I have a lot of criticism in this review, let me say that we had a great time, and if you really drill down there is no doubt that the value was fantastic on this cruise. There is nowhere, other than staying in your backyard, where you can spend 15 nights for less than the cost of sailing transatlantic. All that said, there were some annoyances, and I'll throw a few of these out. Embarkation: Pretty good considering we showed up way too early and were at the port at 11:00am. We were in the Windjammer by noon, and that in my mind was not bad at all. Arrived in Lauderdale, stayed at the Sleep Inn, and always a great stay. Common Rooms. The Navigator suffers from not having enough bars that are practical. We usually like to have a pre-dinner drink, and the choice was limited to the Schooner, the Constellation, or Boleros. The Schooner was somtetimes not available due to trivia, Boleros has a Latin flavour which is an acquired taste that I haven't yet acquired. We usually settled on the Constellation, which is good, but 11 floors from the dining room. One other irritant was the number of people who used the Windjammer as their private rec room, as on a daily basis the whole front section was taken up by card players and mah jongers. No consideration at all for the fact this is a dining room, not a games room. Sorry to point fingers, but most of the culprits were Cruise Critic badge wearers, of which there were more than 275 on the ship. Not good! Activities: Lots of trivia which was a lot of fun. In particular there were 2 couples from Minnesota that knew more about TV than the head of CBS. Nice people who I hope I run into on future cruises, if you're reading this. Casino was great, staff very friendly, a little disappointed there weren't more craps players, but that's the luck of the draw. Keep up the good work RCL casino staff. Dining: Best wait staff on any cruise ship I've ever been on. The Head Waiter actually did more than sidle around on the last night, and often was seen cleaning off tables. Waiters Gilberto and Li deserve recognition for there efforts and pleasant personalities. Food was really nothing to write home about, with poor beef and small lobster portions, but given the great cost of this trip, I understand that something has to be cut back in order to make a profit for the ship. Rooms: We had a small balcony on the port side of the ship. Lacked a little storage space but it was roomy enough. The TV's in the rooms have been around since "I Love Lucy" and really need to be replaced as a priority. This was particularly important given our 15 nights at sea, 9 of which we were at sea. Excursions: Took the Pisa/Florence tour. Most of this time was on the bus, and a long walk from the bus drop-off. Now I've seen the Tower I doubt I'll ever go back, but glad we went. Toulon (Aix au Provence) was great and I would recommend. Despite all my negativity, I loved the trip. It was great to have so many sea days and it's our intention to do this again in the fall of 2013, starting in Europe and coming west to North America Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
This was our 2nd cruise on the Royal Caribbean ship, Navigator of the seas. But our first Transatlantic cruise. We are a young couple travelling with a 3year old little boy, we choose this cruise for our 2nd anniversary. Transfer from ... Read More
This was our 2nd cruise on the Royal Caribbean ship, Navigator of the seas. But our first Transatlantic cruise. We are a young couple travelling with a 3year old little boy, we choose this cruise for our 2nd anniversary. Transfer from Airport to port was good, the guide was quite talkative. Embarkation in Rome was Super fast and impressive, absolutely no complaints there. The ship itself is lovely, clean, well equipt, safe and sturdy. All facilities were working. (weather permiting) The crew and staff were all very friendly and helpful, although maybe a little too helpful and overbearing at some times. E.g one night we asked for Tomato ketchup and chips for dinner for our little boy, but then after that they continued to bring them every night without us even asking, until we asked them to stop as we didn't want our boy eating them EVERY night! Our Cabin was fabulous, it was the very top back corner of the ship, it is a rather unique cabin but perfect for us. It has more space than a normal balcony cabin but has a pipe type thing in the middle of the cabin and a metal beam on the balcony, but this was of no bother to us. The only possible downside is because of its location it is possible the cabin with the most movement on Rocky days. (but there wasn't too many of them) The First few days the weather wasn't very good in the Med, in fact we ended up being stuck in Toulon port for 24hrs by some very bad winds/weather. some called it a 'mini hurricane' this meant that we were a day late to our next port Barcelona, with in turn meant we had to miss a port out of our schedualed itinery. They chose to miss the Azores out instead of one of the 2 spanish ports, which we were all very dissapointed with most people who we spoke to had specifically booked this cruise because of that port. This also meant we were to have 8 straight days at sea crossing the Atlantic instead of the planned 5 which was a bit daunting. We were assured however that the captain had chosen this out of the safety and comfort of the guests?! All the ports we visited However were pleasant to visit. In Livorno we made our own way to the Leaning tower of Pisa. In Toulon we went on the tour train around the ports and had some lunch. In Barcelona we walked up 'La Rambla' and took our boy to the Zoo, and Cartagena we walked around the town and went to the Ruins. The only Royal Caribbean tour we took was when we disembarked at Ft. Laurderdale. We went on the Everglade airboat tour which we would recommend. (we also had booked a tour at the Azores with was refunded) I mentioned earlier that we were travelling with our little boy... out of 3000 passengers he was one of only 10 children on board this cruise and none in his age group. (I would say 70% were over 60.) we were aware that this is know to be an 'older' cruise but didnt realise there would be so little childen. This made our trip interesting as because of this they did not put any of the schedualed kids club activities on... Which we werent very happy with. Although they offered babysitting, it was at a price of $19/hr.....!!! So to say it was a 'family friendly' cruise it wasnt very family friendly. It was only because we met some lovely people onboard who offered to watch him that we were able to get anytime alone on our 14night anniversary cruise!! And speaking of anniversary, although we mentioned it when booking we got no recognition of this when onboard. (although others onboard did). Back to positives... food was fabulous, Steak, salmon, Escargot and of course Lobster! sports activities were great fun, and the evening shows were better than expected. (acrobats, dancers, comedians, magicians, singers) So all in all we had a great time and would cruise with them again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Our longest previous cruise was a 13 night transatlantic only this time we went far better. Started in Miami and boarded the Navigator of the Seas(RCL) and went 14 days to the Canary Islands, Barcelona, Nice, Liverno and ending the first ... Read More
Our longest previous cruise was a 13 night transatlantic only this time we went far better. Started in Miami and boarded the Navigator of the Seas(RCL) and went 14 days to the Canary Islands, Barcelona, Nice, Liverno and ending the first leg in Rome. Outstanding service and the most conscientious Head waiter we ever had. Ship has a cafe promenade--great for a quick snack and meeting point before retiring for the evening. Port stops excellent although we did not see Liverno due to the torrential downpour at the time. We enjoyed the ship. Entertainment keeps picking up and we rated the shows above average. Since our son is a dancer we felt the dancing was satisfactory--to good. Choreography does not use all the talents of the dancers and singers put their heart into it and were good. Worth seeing. Second leg was a 12 night cruise and involved the ancient world visiting Pompeii, Athens, Rhodes, Ephesus,Egypt and Sicily before returning to Rome. Ephesus is a must see. Near the ruins of Ephesus we visited what is thought to be the last home of Mother Mary which was a most peaceful and relaxing place. Small, modest and spiritual. Visited St. John Basilica where tomb of John the Apostle rests and saw the site(nothing left in some cases) of 4 of the ancients wonders of the World. Awesome! Then there was Egypt. Pyramids breathtaking. Alexandria and Cairo were the dirtiest cities ever visited with the rich keeping their money and the many poor with no hope and nothing to do. Dead animals left, polluted Nile cruise had 300 people quarantined on their return to the ship once sick and identified. That was not fun for them but RCL did an outstanding job of protecting the other cruisers. Stay away from the Nile cruise as an option. Reported a dead horse in the Nile by those that took it.(I did not see it but they were definitely sick). Stay in public areas in Turkey and Egypt as they see tourists as wealthy--but it is like that everywhere but you are safe as police in Egypt are everywhere as tourists are their life support. Government is a disaster keeping all the money and not paying people to clean up. Even our tour guide admitted as much. Bit of a hassle in Turkey. Use reputable tour operators or RCL as you are safe with them. We booked Ramses tours in Turkey with excellent service except for one thing which turned everyone off.Stay in the main areas and use reputable tour operators or RCL as you are safe with them. We booked Ramses tours in Turkey with excellent service except for one thing which turned everyone off. The last stop is not scheduled but ends at a carpet factory where they show you beautiful silk rugs and don't want to let you go until you buy something. They offer you a drink hoping this convinces you to buy something. Fortunately you may walk to the peer from there and the guide lost more than half of the tip from many of us with this neat little trick we were not expecting. Great trip, amazing ports and a truly highlight vacation. We have travelled on this size ship and consider it a great size with many activities (full size basketball court which allows for soccer as well--many Europeans on board)to enjoy the transatlantic crossing). We will likely do another transatlantic in 2012. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
I am a 63 year old professional who traveled with her 12 year old granddaughter. GD's first cruise, my seventh, second TA. We spent four days before the cruise in Rome. We stayed at the Hotel Melia Antica which is actually in a suburb ... Read More
I am a 63 year old professional who traveled with her 12 year old granddaughter. GD's first cruise, my seventh, second TA. We spent four days before the cruise in Rome. We stayed at the Hotel Melia Antica which is actually in a suburb of Rome. The hotel shuttle bus took us into the Vatican City every day and picked us up. We had Roma passes which were wonderful-all the public transportation and entry into Museums and other attractions either free or half price. I would recommend the Roma pass.Transfer from the hotel was smooth and so was embarkation. Cabin wasn't ready yet so we went to the Windjammer and found that it was too crowded--this was consistent through out the cruise, not enough spaces and too many people. Jade section was disappointing most of the time but when they hit it right they did an excellent job, just not consistent. Our ocean view cabin was spacious and clean and our room steward was excellent. Lots of storage space and I really appreciated the sliding doors on the shower as opposed to the curtains. The cabin was surprisingly quiet given we were down the corridor from the Dungeon bar. We had two days of high seas during the trip and the movement in the cabin was very minimal, a very smooth voyage. We did not take any of the ship's excursions in any of the ports because most places had tourists in mind with hop-on/hop-off buses and excellent public transportation. We did not get off the ship in France because of the troubles. My GD very much enjoyed the teen center and loved the counselor, Fabi from Brazil. There weren't that many children on board and the teen center kept her busy and happy. She made friends, played games, watched movies and was generally in teen heaven. Initially I was concerned that the adult pool, the Solarium, did not have a cover but the weather cooperated and I was in the pool a lot. It was wonderfully warm, all the pools were. The hot tubs weren't that hot, though. I was disappointed that the library was so meager (glad I had my Kindle), the slow internet connection, no passenger laundry (getting clothes clean was hideously expensive), the morning stretch class was excellent but too crowded and getting into the ice skating show was very poorly done. The dining room (we had my time dining, the only way to go) food and service were on a par with every other cruise I've been on. Ordered room service a couple of times and they were prompt and always got our order correct and the menu wasn't extensive but was surely adequate. I really enjoyed the cafe promenade for early morning coffee before the GD got up and loved the space in the very front of deck 5 on the helipad where you could watch the sea at all times and the stars at night. We also enjoyed the miniature golf and the movie theater. GD enjoyed the basket ball and volley ball,rock climbing wall and ice skating. Went to the spa once and enjoyed the service but not the sales pitch. Appreciated the sauna and steam room, also. This is a great ship if you are traveling with kids. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
We have been on many cruises but had never before experienced the thrill of a transatlantic voyage. I was afraid 7 days at sea would be a bit boring, but this was not the case at all. I enjoyed every minute - including the extra hour we ... Read More
We have been on many cruises but had never before experienced the thrill of a transatlantic voyage. I was afraid 7 days at sea would be a bit boring, but this was not the case at all. I enjoyed every minute - including the extra hour we had most days due to the time change! The Navigator of the Seas is a beautiful ship and the service was top notch throughout. Captain Patrick was the most personable I have every encountered, even walking around the dining room to say hello to everyone during dinner one night. We enjoyed the food in the dining room and never felt we had to go to the specialty restaurants. Also the food in the Windjammer was very good with many choices available for lunch. There was usually somewhere to sit, as long as you didn't mind sharing someone's table. We always do this and most people are happy to share if you ask. You get to meet more people that way. There was a great variety of entertainment and surely something to please every taste. The ice show was spectacular although we did have to line up 45 minutes in advance to be assured of getting seats. Which brings me to my one complaint about the ship. For 3000 passengers, many of the public rooms seem too small. We never could get into the movie (which only seats about 100 people) even though we went there 30 minutes before each show. If you wanted to play trivia in the Schooner bar, you had to go at least 45 minutes early to get a seat. And if you wanted to hear the piano player there after the show, you had to stand at least until the first set was over. Many people were also closed out of the lectures in the conference rooms due to lack of seats. Even the showroom, which seems huge, filled up rapidly for the early dinner show and we had to go there directly from dinner every night and wait 45 minuted for the show to start. The only other problem was the disembarkation in Ft Lauderdale, which was terrible. The long slow walk from the ship to the baggage area led to chaos in the baggage room and too few customs agents. However I don't know if this was the fault of Royal Caribbean, the customs officers or port authorities. We did have a wonderful time and I would not hesitate to sail on the Navigator again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
Cruise Critic Review: Navigator of the Seas April 10, 2010 TransAtlantic : Miami to Rome Roger007 They say getting there is half the fun. I can't wait for the other half. Having had many TAs before (3 eastbound, 1 westbound) and 3 of ... Read More
Cruise Critic Review: Navigator of the Seas April 10, 2010 TransAtlantic : Miami to Rome Roger007 They say getting there is half the fun. I can't wait for the other half. Having had many TAs before (3 eastbound, 1 westbound) and 3 of which on the NOS, we made reservations to arrive the day before. Booked a non-stop Indy-Miami AA flight that would arrive mid afternoon. Unfortunately the airlines did not cooperate. Our flight was over four hours late taking off from Miami. We decided to make other plans and changed flights to Indianapolis-DFW and DFW-Miami. Arrived DFW with plenty of time to spare and have a good dinner. Our second leg reminded us of Murphy as the pilot determined after all passengers were aboard and belted in that one engine was a quart low on oil. I guess the mechanic had to go to the store and buy some because it was over an hour later before we took off. Got to Miami after 10 (to find our luggage had preceded us on our original flight). Exhausted we found a home at Fairfield Airport South. Excellent lodging, friendly and accommodating staff and comfortable bed. Day One: After a moderate but filling continental breakfast, we boarded the 11am shuttle to the Port and the NOS. Embarkation took at most 15 minutes from bus to ship. Smooth. Since rooms were not yet opened, we lunched at the Windjammer. As usual, space was at a premium. A wide variety of food was available. Some have complained about the quality of the food. We found it satisfactory and quite acceptable. At 1pm we entered our rooms luggage. A major disappointment with RCI/NOS has been and continues to be the Wireless Internet Connection. It is costly (.65/minute regular cost) but I would not argue if the speed was commissurate with the cost. It took me three tries to get the online log in to finally work. Then when I did connect after 15 minutes of charges I managed to actually achieve about 3 minutes of work. Once I was disconnected three time due to "connection reset." Of course I never got anywhere but RCI charged me 10 minutes and $3 for the experience. Another time I waited (I timed it) nearly 8 minutes for a page to download. All this time the clock is running and RCI is getting my dough. This is either a SHAM or very poor technological control. Every time I return I fully expect RCI to have corrected this embarrassing condition. Every time I am disappointed. Every time I note this disappointment on my critique to RCI. Every time nothing happens. One time too many and I may not return. Certainly other lines have solved this technical problem and all else being equal, it might be a future deciding point between cruise lines. A second major disappointment is the new dining hours: 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm. As Goldilocks would have said: Too early and too late. So consequently, we ate at the Windjammer (and once at Chops). We really did not miss the main dining room: it was far quieter at the Windjammer, the food was just as good, the dining room attends were friendly, the buffet selection offered a wide array of choices and the dining timing were flexible. It is not unusual to gorge oneself on food on cruises and gain 10-15 pounds on a voyage, eating at the Windjammer allowed us to control portion sizes and not fall into the gain 10-15 category. My wife and I said this is one cruise where we might actually lose pounds; the typical four course meal (plus cheese plate) at the Main Dining room encourages stuffing oneself and we have decided against it. Other items. Trivia and Sail Away party were fun and well portrayed. The main performance was satisfactory—comedian and dance team were fine. The Sail-away parade late at night was well attended and energy and enthusiasm was quite noticeable. The 70's Party was fabulous and full of high energy passengers and staff. Day 2: As is our tradition, we had room service serve breakfast on our balcony every morning. Delivered was on time and correct. Started Matt's Ultimate Trivia in the morning. Our team fun but boy is it was competitive. I guess I must be like Ken Jennings and start preparing a year in advance. Cruise Critic's meet and mingle had to be moved several times each time to a larger room. Several hundred attended. I must give RCI credit, horsd'oeurves and champagne were served and some very nice door prizes and gifts given. This compares most favorably to previous M&M's we have been to. Disappointment 3: Last year on the NOS TA, in the Viking Lounge, each sea day had an international buffet with a chef preparing a country's specialty on different days (German, French, Spanish, Italian, etc). We really enjoyed the variety and the opportunity to taste test ethnic cuisines. This TA it was listed in the Compass we showed up and found out it was a typo. We guess they discontinued the practice due to cost constraints. Too bad. It was a great addition to the TA and others missed it as well. Disappointment 4: Customer service. I ventured to the Excursions to buy a Barcelona package. After 15 minutes in line I was told they were closing from 1 to 3. Why? I don't know. At least 5 staff were in the area. Were they all going to take lunch at the same time? Please somebody remind RCI that they are here to serve us at our convenience and not vice versa. Certainly splitting staff so some could go to lunch while others continue service clients is not too much to ask, especially during prime time periods like the afternoon. Guest Relations always had a line fifty feet back and staff were in the back room but no one ever came out to help. Heck of a way to run a railroad (or a cruise line). Loyalty (future ship cruises) were always packed and guests were turned away. Disappointment 5: It is the little things that count and which have disappeared. No mints at night on the pillow. No daily newspaper. Still the towel animals (Occasionally). Prizes have been downgraded to the point where plastic key chains and laminated luggage tags were first prizes being fought over by overly zealous passengers. I remember wine seminars for loyalty members; not on this cruise. Disappointment 6: The number of crew that had poor grasp of English and whose English was very difficult to understand was large. This is indicative or poor staffing practices. I have heard that RCI pulled the best and sent them to the Oasis of the Seas. RCI must understand that they do not have just one ship but twenty and they must provide adequate levels of quality to all ships. Disappointment 7: The Navigator of the Seas is a grand old ship and we have had many fine times on it. But She is starting to show her age. Carpet stains, rusty spots, paint chipping on patio furniture, wood paneling cracks in the Windjammer, lots of broken chairs swivels in the key lounges (Ixtapa, etc...). The wicker dinning chairs in the Windjammers legs are coming unraveled. What particularly irked me was the jogging track. She was worn in spots down to the core. She needs to be cleaned up to redeem her statelessness. The care you take shows and RCI's care of the NOS shows many oversights that weigh upon a customer's overall view. Disappointment 8: In all the times we have rounded the tip of Spain we have yet to pass by the Rock of Gibraltar during daylight hours. This trip was no exception. The Captain said it would be twilight during passage; 6am it was totally dark and the hundreds that showed up for the passage were extremely disappointed. Since it is a major tourist highlight, why can't RCI schedule passage during the daylight hours? That alone would be a major selling point. Disappointment 9: In the past several special events have been held in conjunction with the specialty restaurants, notably a murder mystery dinner theatre and a wine tasting dinner. These were not held this time. In the past these have added to the ambience of the ship and were solely missed. Disappointment 10: My time Dining was announced with huge fanfare by RCI. The first night we went and investigated and was not impressed. Discussions with other guests who used it proved we made the right decision not to use the service. True, you can dine at anytime and that flexibility has economic value. But the service is structured that once you sign up you must use it thereafter. Not only that but you are charged complete tips ($9 per person per meal) even if you skip a meal or two. The tips include the steward and he is included even if you do not use wine. Now I do have a degree in math and $18 in tips at a 15% tip rate means the dinner was being valued at $120. Even at 20 percent, it comes close to $100. The food is good but not that good! I did notice the Main Dining room was not even close to being occupied and many tables were empty. RCI must change its policy . Disappointment 11: We were platinum (to be diamond for our next cruise) and received a Platinum Cruise and Anchor booklet. We used two coupons (laundry and internet). Had to ask for the second because they only brought us one. Hardly anything of value (lots of 2 for 1 or 10% off but nothing free or special for their valued loyalty level customers). This is not the way to treat frequent cruisers and is not a method that will create goodwill and word of mouth from their most valued customers. Entertainment: We had a comedian, the RC singers and dancers three times, a comedian magician, singer, violinst. The ice shows. All in all we felt the entertainment was of high quality and the audience seemed to enjoy it. We saw the ice saw twice; it was the same show we saw in 2009 TA. Great show but should change it yearly instead of every 3 to 5 years. In addition, being a TA, numerous speakers were on board: an historian, a geneaologist, an astronomer. We found these delightful and educational. The typical art history lectures and auctions with free champagne were abundant, well frequented but few buyers were to be found for the multi-thousand dollar art works shown. The Icelandic volcano through a wrench into the featured performers, several could not get off the ship and several could not get onto the ship (at the Canary Islands). Fortunately the numbers balanced and those held over volunteered for extra performances which were outstanding. Typical ship fare (Battle of the Sexes, Majority Rules, Karaoke, Name that Lyrics, Love and Marriage, Family Feud) were held and with great audience participation. Always delightful and entertaining to see your fellow shipmates made fools of him/herself. I do wish that the Battle of the Sexes would revert back to the older Family Feud format instead of the Physical Childish challenges they had on this trip. Save that for the teens. At least have a modicum of mental challenge. Food: You can see the cost cutting here. Options were more limited than we had seen in the past. Quality was barely acceptable. Certainly quantity was available but presentation and style seemed to be lacking. My wife enjoyed the JADE Asian food selection and ate this dining section exclusively for lunch and dinner. I do wish the Windjammer opened at 6pm rather than 6:30 pm as the late opening collided several times with theatre productions. Shore excursions/Disembarking. We visited Canary Islands, Barcelona, French Riviera and Livorno (Florence) prior to our final stopping point at Civi (Rome) on April 24. Only Ville on the French Riviera was a tender stop; all others were docks. On and off for all the excursions were quite quick. Plus: Six hours of time changes occurred on this cruise. Rather than do so in the middle of the day (12 to 1 as in previous TAs), they occurred at night (3am). One less hour of sleep a night but at least the afternoon was not shortened and all activities could go on. Others were not so enamored with the change, such as the wait staff as they didn't have much time to between meal setups. As passengers we preferred the time change occurring between 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. Another plus: We had read about the Novovirus and getting sick on the ship. On our last year's TA, both my wife and I came down with horrible cases of the virus and it ruined our vacation. We took no chances and brought an arsenal of medicines this year. Surprisingly, the ship was very healthy. I saw and heard very little coughing or sneezing or any other flu symptoms. Hand Sanitizers were everywhere and it appeared what programs they had implemented worked very well. Kudos to: Matt Sole (Canada), Cruise Director; Richard Edward Activity Manager (Trinidad); Jorge Cutino (Mexico City), Activity Staff; Lauren Kalis (South Africa), Activity Staff; Vicki , Activity Staff were all in their own right entertaining, hilarious and got passengers involved when hosting an event. Diana Radu (Romania), front desk clerk was extremely helpful, patient, knowledgeable and a delight to talk to about world issues. Overall: We enjoy TransAtlantics—for the price you cannot beat what you get. But each year it is less and less dramatic as in previous years. Right now if I had to make a decision, I would hesitate and probably not sign up for another TA next year. RCI needs some new itineraries and ports. I probably would sign up if they had a Circumnavigate the British Isles but nothing is on the agenda for next year. A Eastern Seaboard Northern Atlantic might be a challenging adventure that would capture my attention. But how many Azores and Canary Islands can you take? What about a North Africa (Casablanca, Algiers, Tunisia) venture? RCI take note. Try some exotic ports to breath some fresh air into the TAs. All in all, even though I had more disappointments than pluses (being a veteran cruiser and TAer I am naturally more critical than a rookie would be), the cruise was excellent. Lots of R&R. Lots to do. Made a lot of new acquaintances. Last TA for a while until new Itineraries appear. However, looking at possible Trans Pacifics. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
This will be a two part review, actually three part. The first part is my review from April 2009 which was the trans-Atlantic on the NOS in April 2009 which goes into detail about the ship. You can read this by clicking ... Read More
This will be a two part review, actually three part. The first part is my review from April 2009 which was the trans-Atlantic on the NOS in April 2009 which goes into detail about the ship. You can read this by clicking http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=55529. This review will be an "update" on the ship and the ports of call. I will do the B2B Med separately. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale rather than Miami as it was cheaper and "bags fly free." Transport from FLL to our hotel, the Miami Marriott Biscayne, was $15 each with SAS (http://ridesas.com). I got the hotel on Priceline for $65 a night. That evening we rode the free monorail (or whatever it is called) to Bayside for a pre-cruise dinner with a group at Bubba Gumps. The monorail station is just a couple of blocks from the hotel. The next day, we took a cab to the port--$11 with tip. Embarkation was as fast as you could walk. Our cabin was an E1, Deck 7, port, forward near the elevators and stairs which is our preference. Our cabin steward was Lily who is probably the best we have ever had. I gave her my "punch list," namely remove things from the mini-bar, deliver two Compass' each night, keep my soft-sided six-pack cooler full of ice, and try to get me an egg crate. She was not successful with the egg crate but did put a blanket under the sheet to try and soften the bed a little because I find beds on Royal Caribbean are harder than I prefer. After lunch, I went to the library to try and get a book since I left mine at home. The library was as sorry as before and picked clean before I got there. However, one of the return book boxes does not have a lock and I got another couple of books later in the cruise by "dumpster diving." Good news on the muster drill. Because of our cabin location, our muster station was the Ixtapa Lounge, and we didn't have to take our life jackets and we could sit. The ship is in pretty good shape considering its age. Hall carpets are pretty worn. Elevators have not improved--still slow, indicator lights not working on a few so you depended on listening to the dings (one ding up, two dings down). Only problem was sometimes, you heard a ding but by the time you figured out which elevator it was, it had left. We, also, learned that the elevators on the starboard side midship were a little quicker than on the port side because only the port side midship elevators go to Deck 14. This requires more stops taking longer to make a "round trip." One elevator was out of order the entire cruise. Upholstery was worn in the public rooms. I wish I could say the food has improved. Steaks were still tough with the exception of the filet. Menus were the same as the trans-Atlantics the previous couple of years. It appeared to me that they have cut back on selections in the Windjammer but there was still plenty of food. They opened a separate dining room for Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Suites for breakfast which was very nice. You were seated as you came in and your order taken—did not have to wait for the table to fill. I think the ratio of servers to guests was higher, because it seemed to go faster than in the MDR. They have changed the breakfast menu with a "special" every day. No eggs benedict but they would get them for you if you asked. Specialty coffee was available gratis in the Diamond breakfast room. On the last day of the first half of our B2B, we were curtly told that the Diamond dining room was only available for suite passengers and escorted to the regular dining room even though there were only four people in it with several servers standing around picking their fingernails. We ate one meal in Chops and it was outstanding—so much food, so little time and "stomach" room (lol). Note: Ask for a table away from the greeting desk. Noise from the WJ filters through the thin wall. We requested a large table at late seating. We asked for late seating because the past couple of times they have moved the early seating up from 6:00 p.m. to 5:30 which is too early particularly if they move the clocks up at noon rather than at night which has also happened on the past couple of cruises. We were assigned an eight top by the window. They did move the seatings up, so our late seating was at 8:00 rather than 8:30. On our last few cruises, there have always been a couple of seats that were never occupied but assigned.. Again, we had Mr. and Mrs. Nobody at our table. Looking around, it was not unusual to see a table set for several but only one or two couples there. More and more people are opting for the WJ rather than the dining room. Our window seat did offer us a couple of nice sunset views. Our waiter and assistant waiter were very personable and capable. We wish we could have had them on the B2B, too. They had little tent signs in the WJ asking you to please release your table when you finished eating. On the previous TA they had the same thing only it said if you wanted to play cards, etc., to go to the Swan dining room. This time the sign did not say that so several tables were tied up with people playing cards or games. People are getting wise to the high entry fees and low pay outs in Bingo. They canceled the game one day when not enough people bought in to make the profit margin the ship wanted. The next day they only played one game, cover all, and guaranteed $100 prize money. They did not have hand-held electronic thingees so it was a more level playing field. I think it was $32. On the day they only had one game, they only charged $22. We are big trivia players. They had a progressive trivia game in the Ixtapa Lounge. Plenty of room for the teams of six. The host used power point which eliminated dealing with foreign accents, repeating of questions, and Power Point allowed visual questions which added to the variety and type of trivia questions which could be asked. The regular trivia games were held two or three times a day in the Schooner Bar which doesn't come close to accommodating all those that want to participate. You needed to get there at least half an hour early to get a seat, or, in some cases, standing room. Most of the evening games were musical. Prizes were not good. We gave most of ours away if we won How many luggage tags, pens, magnets do you need? They roped off the first three rows of the balcony in the main showroom for the suites. If they weren't filled when the show was about to begin (and they weren't most of the time), they lowered the ropes for everyone. People "in the know" would line up behind the ropes when they could see the seats weren't nearly filled. If you do this, go for the third row rather than the first two because the bar in front of the balcony can partially obstruct your view of the stage. We never had any problem getting balcony seats the few times we went and only once ran into a chair saver. The televisions were not flat screen and the programming was the pits. While they had movies for free (pay per view was available) you couldn't find out what they were or when they would be shown. It was catch as catch can. Same movies were shown over and over again. If you came into it in the middle, you could maybe catch the first part later. Ozzie and Harriet were back. The news programming was the same thing, repeats several days old in some instances, with only a little ticker running across the bottom with anything current. Forget about sports although I did catch the last two minutes of the final playoff game between the Thunder and the Lakers that was shown in a re-run at 8:00 a.m. Oh how I miss the daily news recap they took away. About the time change—an evil necessity on trnas-Atlantics. This time they moved the clocks up at 3:00 a.m. rather than noon which had been the case on our two previous eastbound TA's. The bar servers weren't real happy with losing an hours worth of tips when it was moved up at noon. I figure the ship losing an hour of "prime time" selling things to the passengers factored in to the decision, too. The losers were the crew that lost an hour's sleep every night. This cruise had a little different itinerary than our previous trans-Atlantics. Our first port was Tenerife, Canary Islands, which we have been to several times. We took public transportation to a delightful little town called La Laguna about half an hour away. It was Sunday so not much open but we enjoyed getting away from the hustle and bustle and on terra firma after a week at sea. Next port was Barcelona. We have been there several times so we opted for a ship's tour to Montserrat. I do not like ship's tours but couldn't find any takers for a private tour. This tour reminded me why I don't like ship's tours. A drive through Barcelona pointing out some sights (but not La Familia) and a pretty drive up to Montserrat which a good tour guide. Once there, however, time was very limited. The guide led us to the church and pointed out features along the way. The "highlight" at the church is a black Madonna. However, to get close to it was a long line (estimated time half an hour) so there wasn't time to do that. They said in the description you could opt to ride a funicular to the very top, but, again, not enough time. They, also, had a museum but—you guess it—not enough time to really give it its due. We should have taken the advice of several people on cruise critic and done it on our own. Much cheaper and we would have had time to do everything. I just get nervous when we get more than 30 miles out of town on my own for fear I won't get back to the ship on time. In Villefranche, I arranged a private tour for eight of us with Revelation Tours. It included a stop at the market in Nice, then on to St. Paul de Vence where we had time for lunch and to stroll the quaint streets and really nice shops—not your tacky souvenir stands. From there to Monte Carlo and Monaco and finally Eze. Our driver was excellent, spoke English fluently, and gave us a wonderful tour. The best part is the price was about half of what the ship wanted and we saw a lot more than any of the ship's tours offered. We paid 125 euros (approx. $156) a couple. The ship wanted prices of $159 per person and up depending on the tour and none went to all five places that we did. The last port was Livorno which was a jumping off place for tours to Florence and Pisa. Having been to both places and ready for a rest after the long day before, we did not plan anything other than to walk around the village, stretch our legs, and maybe find an internet cafe. Worked out well because the weather was not good—chilly and rainy. So, we got our shuttle tickets refunded and enjoyed having a sea day in port. Finally, into Rome or, more accurately, Civitavecchia, the port. There had been a great deal of anxiety among the passengers toward the end of the cruise because of the volcano fall out from Iceland. People had no idea whether their flights were going or not, delayed or not. The television reports were more "doom and gloom" than anything positive. The on-board internet connection was their usual slower than molasses in January if you didn't get thrown off just about the time you got to where you wanted to go. On the good side, most were staying in Rome or environs for a few days giving them a chance to work things out rather than arriving at the airport and finding their flight not going and hotel rooms not available. A friend of ours who had a flexible schedule inquired about continuing on the ship only to find that the price for an inside was half again what he paid for his balcony coming over. We were very glad that we had 12 days more on the ship which, hopefully, would give the volcano time to straighten things out. Note: the ship wanted $91 per person to get to the airport, he went with a group that arranged transport for $23. The group was formed while on the cruise so it wasn't a situation of having to book it out way ahead of time. While others were scrambling around, we took our dirty clothes to a laundramat in town and did wash, located an internet cafe, and hit an ATM. The weather was off and on drizzle. Other notes: On Sea days they had lectures on digital photography and genealogy. Unfortunately, the venues assigned were too small to accommodate all those that wanted to attend. Also, the timing was bad—late afternoon—which made it difficult for those that had early seating on formal nights. They, also, had a lady doing silhouettes for FREE. Really free, no little discrete sign saying "gratuities would be appreciated." Again, venue not really good and a lot of takers so not everyone could be accommodated that would like to have been. We ended up having to put our name on a list to be taken care of the following day. It was a nice souvenir to take home with us. I will continue the B2B portion in a separate review. Any questions, our e-mail address is whitlock@alumni.utexas.net. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
We arrived at JFK Airport with plenty of time to spare. We flew Aer Lingus to Dublin, where we changed planes to fly to Malaga. The Dublin Airport is an amazing place. We arrived there at 4:30 in the morning and EVERYTHING was open and I ... Read More
We arrived at JFK Airport with plenty of time to spare. We flew Aer Lingus to Dublin, where we changed planes to fly to Malaga. The Dublin Airport is an amazing place. We arrived there at 4:30 in the morning and EVERYTHING was open and I mean everything. Every shop and restaurant was open and ready for business and very busy. There was even an open nail salon. Imagine, getting your nails done at 5:00 a.m. in an airport! After changing planes, we arrived in Malaga at about 11:00 a.m., local time. We followed signs in several languages directing us to luggage claim. We stood at the carousel until all the luggage came out except ours and that of about half a dozen couples, all of whom had changed planes at Dublin. We went into a room labeled "lost luggage." Everybody's luggage was there. Before we were permitted to claim it, we had to run it through a scanner. After we claimed our luggage, it was easy to find a cab and after we finally got our driver to understand our very poor Spanish, we arrived at the Don Curro Hotel. This was a small, exceptionally clean hotel that supplied a delightful free breakfast every morning. This hotel was located in an excellent location. It was near shopping (very high end) and a lovely park and botanical gardens. There were interesting statues in the park, and interesting buildings along side. Around the corner from the hotel were a plaza, shops and restaurants, which ended in a large square with a fountain and several restaurants. We took a hop on hop off touring bus. There were only two things of real interest. One was a magnificent cathedral, and the other, a fort on a high, high hill. The cathedral was easily walkable from the hotel; the fort was not. It might be more economical to take a taxi to the fort, rather than pay for the bus if you stay in that general area. I have to warn you that Malaga is NOT a safe city. We met several other couples from roll call at a tappas restaurant, Pimpi's. We reached this by walking through the plaza and then going off on a side street. The restaurant was mediocre, and the service was poor. As we left the restaurant, my husband was approached with a man bearing a large knife. He said, in English, "Give me money." I started to scream, "Help us, help us" and started to run back into Pimpi's to get help. The man ran away. Later we learned that another couple was attacked, at the fort, in broad daylight. The woman has to be at least seventy years old, about 4'10" and ninety pounds. The next day we boarded the ship. It really is beautiful. There is a promenade with stores and clubs, including a 24-hour cafe, where cookies and sandwiches are always available. The casino is decorated with a jazz theme (New Orleans) and is really innovative. The pool deck is gorgeous, (although it has not been warm enough [as of November 11] to use it). The dining rooms, theater, and nightclub are beautifully appointed, the theater and nightclub designed so there are no bad seats. The first day was a day at sea. The day was chock full of activities. The second day we docked at Madeira. There were lots of tours offered through the ship, but we decided to do it on our own, mainly because hubby has difficulty walking. We took a tram ride up to the top of a mountain, where the view was magnificent as were the gardens. It was all very lush. Back to the ship, change for dinner (the show for late seating was before dinner), run from the show to trivia, run from trivia to dinner, run from dinner to a game. Listen to some great music after the game, and so to sleep. I do have some complaints about the activities. The Cruise Director, Kieron Buffery, is not, in my opinion the greatest. He continually scheduled late seating shows at 7:15, and trivia or name that tune at 8:00. The shows did not get out until after 8:00, making it impossible to enjoy both. We usually chose not to go to the show, inasmuch as most of the entertainment was not the greatest. However, the production shows, featuring the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers were excellent. There was also a late-nite show featuring these very talented people singing standards and jazz. This was probably the best show offered the entire cruise. The ice show was excellent also. There were two stops in the Canary Islands. Again, due to the hubby's problems, we didn't do much. The first island, Tenerife, was rather lively; we just walked around the down town area. Had lots of stores and cafes, a large square with a fountain, and interesting statues. The second island, La Palma, was very small, and there was not much to it. We took an excursion that was for people with walking difficulties. We were taken to a volcano site. Most people (not on our tour) walked to the top; we were not able to do that (the hubby anyway). After the tour we looked around down town. Really nothing to see. The next six days were days at sea. The weather was fine, and there were the usual shipboard and poolside activities. However, the shows for late seating were continually at 7:15 which conflicted with trivia and "Name that Tune". This went on throughout the cruise. The next port was Nassau. There was a horrible situation there. It seems that on a Segway tour, the group was attacked by men with machine guns who took their money, cameras and passports. I was not on this tour, thank goodness, and it was not talked about on the ship. However, there is a thread on Cruise Critic about it. Evidently, there were people on this tour not only from the Navigator, but also from the Disney Wonder. The Disney staff came to the site after the armed holdup, nobody from Royal Caribbean did. This is only hearsay; I was not there. Getting off the ship was a disaster! We are diamonds and supposedly were given priority. Well, if this is priority, I can't imagine what other people had to endure. We were directed to go to the 4th deck dining room. There we sat for about an hour. We were then told to line u p. We stood for approximately two hours. We did not move. The lines for immigration were long, and they did not separate the US citizens from the non citizens. This made our line extremely long and slow moving. When I requested a wheel chair for the hubby, I was told that inasmuch as I filled out the custom form, he couldn't have a wheel chair—if he had filled out the custom form, he could. All in all, we were somewhat disappointed with this cruise, especially, since we had a wonderful time a year ago, when we crossed on the Independence of the Seas, with Alan Brooks as the Cruise Director. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
We boarded the Navigator in Malaga, which was a wonderful start for us as it is only about an hours drive away from our home. We had arranged to leave our car at SP Parking, which is an off site airport parking and that they would take us ... Read More
We boarded the Navigator in Malaga, which was a wonderful start for us as it is only about an hours drive away from our home. We had arranged to leave our car at SP Parking, which is an off site airport parking and that they would take us down to the port in their transportation. This worked out perfectly for us and no sooner had we arrived that we were in their taxi van and on our way - about 30 minutes drive from the airport area to the port. Navigator looked superb in the sunshine and we weren't to be disappointed. Malaga port is undergoing major construction work and the ship was berthed a long way from the port entrance, it seemed a very complicated route that the driver had to take to get us to the ship and I would have hated to try and get there under our own steam. We had read many horror stories about embarkation at Malaga during the series of 5 night cruises prior to our Transatlantic, however we were pleasantly surprised. Porters were readily available to take the luggage and we entered a short queue for security and were checked in very speedily. Lots of check in staff were available and there were some shops, including a duty free shop after the baggage scanner for any last minute purchases! It took an hour from us arriving at SP Parking at Malaga Airport to boarding the Navigator - we were on board by midday - and as usual cabins were not available until 1pm - so we headed to the Windjammer for a light lunch before going to the main dining room to check out our table allocation. We were delighted to find that we had got our table for 2 , as requested, in the 3rd floor Nutcracker restaurant. Our cabin was 7620, which was a mid hump E2 category - the location was superb for us and our cabin steward Andrea was efficient and attentive. Once on the crossing we had the sun on our balcony from morning until night and we used the balcony frequently to sit out and read. We were truly blessed with the weather on this cruise. The second sea day on the crossing was somewhat rocky, but apart from that, we had beautiful sunny, calm days. We loved the entertainment on this cruise, we felt the guest acts were by far the best we had experienced on board ship. The highlights for us were the Backbeat Beatles (my absolute favourites), Gary Lovini, Jeffrey Allen (Elton John Tribute Act) and the 3 Tenors. We also enjoyed Bob Arno (the pickpocket act) and passed many a pleasant evening singing along with Darren Bethell in the Schooner Bar and Christine McCann, who entertained in the 2 Poets pub on the last evening. I much prefer that the late show is after dinner and not pre dinner but for some reason Cruise Directors seem to love having the show before dinner for the late dining room sitting. Having said that we liked Kieron Buffery as a CD and he was always visible around the ship and happy to chat. The Navigator dunes mini golf was in pretty poor shape and is in urgent need of some TLC however generally speaking the Navigator was in good condition. My husband is a smoker and we found the Navigator to be much more smoker friendly than our previous experiences. We loved the 2 Poets for our pre dinner drinks and the Schooner Bar for after dinner entertainment. We also used the 19th Hole during the day time for reading and card playing - the bar staff were all attentive and very friendly. My husband played for a while in the casino every night but lady luck did not smile on us at all during this trip! He also frequented the cigar bar on most evenings. The food in the main dining room was generally good, it would be nice to see a little more selection, or maybe more specials on offer, on longer cruises. We normally used the Windjammer for late breakfasts, which was fine and the Promenade Cafe for a light lunch. We did have lunch with our Cruise Critic group in the main dining room on one occasion, which I thought was fine. I did hear that the Windjammer was very good in the evenings but we never went there, and we did go for one afternoon tea there, which was lovely. There were several midnight buffets offered but we only attended once - more out of curiosity than hunger! We did use the spa on this trip, which was a first for us and we found it to be a relaxing experience. Our first port of call was Madeira - we had pre arranged a taxi tour with Daniel, which was interesting and informative. Our second port of call was Tenerife - we pre booked a hire car with holiday autos and went to Mount Teide, a lovely day trip. Our third port of call was La Palma - we took a taxi from the pier to visit a cigar manufacturer - we bought some great cigars there - and then we went on to visit the volcano site. A very interesting day, we later strolled through the charming small town and did a little shopping, wanting to make the most of our last day on land before the crossing. Our last port of call was the Bahamas - we took a taxi to Atlantis and we purchased tickets to visit the digs. We spent the whole day at the hotel, visiting the casino and having some lunch. Disembarkation was chaotic to say the least - we were delayed by immigration for over 5 hours. We had a 9.15am disembarkation, which would have been perfect for us but unfortunately we were still in the theatre at 1pm waiting to be called. We had a long drive to Savannah in front of us and this made it a really long, tiring day. This was not enough to mar our trip, just a bit of a blip, only really an inconvenience in the whole scheme of things. On the whole a great cruise, yes we would do a transatlantic again and we would certainly travel on the Navigator again if the right trip were to present itself - a great ship with a lovely crew. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
Background Mid-60's, 30th cruise overall, 8th on Royal Caribbean which includes four trans-Atlantics, one Panama Canal, and three one-week cruises. Pre-cruise Flew into Ft. Lauderdale a day early and stayed at the Red Carpet ... Read More
Background Mid-60's, 30th cruise overall, 8th on Royal Caribbean which includes four trans-Atlantics, one Panama Canal, and three one-week cruises. Pre-cruise Flew into Ft. Lauderdale a day early and stayed at the Red Carpet Inn.  Reviews were mixed and leaned towards negative but we found it fine for our purposes.  Free airport shuttle and port shuttle, clean, free internet, and had a reasonably priced restaurant attached to it which was good as there is nothing else around it other than a sports grill attached to the hotel next door—I think it was a Best Western.  Although in the flight path of the airport, we were not disturbed by the planes at all. I think they limit take offs and landings at night.  Largest pool I have ever seen for an establishment of that size. Embarkation We had heard that because the hotel's port shuttle was first come, first served it was advisable to line up early which we did at 10:30 a.m. for a 11:00 shuttle.   However, since we were leaving on a Thursday, there was no line, just one other couple and a lady waiting.   First they took the lady to the airport rental car location to pick up a car and then took us to the port.  The driver remarked how easy it was leaving on an off day.  It was around 11:30 when we got to the port and handed our luggage over.  We were directed to a large waiting area and told that the computers were down, and we would have to wait until they were up again to process our boarding. When the "hostess" made a remark about how clean the ship would be with the wait, I got suspicious that maybe they were cleaning because of the virus.  Especially since they were still cleaning cabins when we got on.  However, our cruising friend got there before the computers went down and he got right on. There was seating for everyone in the waiting area and employees who would ordinarily man the check-in counters circulated offering  water or juice. There was no separate area for Platinum, Diamond, etc. Every 15 minutes or so they would tell us that they computers were still down and thank us for our patience.  Around 12:45 they started boarding.  It was done in an orderly fashion with people being released by rows from the seating areas to the check-in area in the order they arrived at the terminal..  Check-in went efficiently and we were thanked for our patience by every employee we encountered.  We got on the ship and dropped off our things in the cabin before heading for lunch. After lunch we returned to the cabin to find our Diamond Value books and concierge lounge pass key but no ice in the bucket yet.  We had a balcony cabin on Deck 6 very near the front.   A few minutes later the room steward dropped by to introduce himself and I requested four things:  1) two Compasses a day; 2) ice put in my six-pack thermo bag which would be on the shower floor because it "sweats;" 3) empty the mini fridge and  4) see if he could hustle us up an egg crate mattress which he did do. By 3:00 p.m. luggage had been delivered and unpacking complete.  That is a record.  All contents of the suitcases were intact if you get my drift. The muster drill for our section was held in the Ixtapa lounge rather than outside.  Much preferred this to standing in the hot sun, cheek to jowl with other passengers.  It went quickly.  I liked that the closet had a "cubby" for life jackets storage in the cabin.  Let the cruise begin! We are "discarded" Diamonds on our first cruise as Diamond members.  The overflow lounge was full to be sure but very organized with no problem getting drinks (either at the bar or ordered while seated) and very nice appetizers. We requested late dining because the eastbound TA cruise  we took last year had early dining at 5:30 rather than the 6:00 we expected.  Couple this with moving the clocks up an hour at noon several days at sea (making our dinner at 4:30 "stomach time") and port calls that lasted until 5-6:00 p.m. we switched from our usual main dining time.to late.  However, on embarkation, we found our late dining would be 8:30 which is a little late for us and early dining would be 6:00.   So I asked the concierge (hey, I'm Diamond now if only for a few minutes) if he could assist us in changing to MTD and, basically, he blew me off.  If he had politely told me that he wished he could help but this could only be handled by me in person or some other words to that effect, I would have understood.  Instead, he told me to go down to the desk at the dining room and see if I could get it changed.  I did and after waiting 20 minutes for the lady who could handle it, I was told to come back at 9:30 the next morning as the lady was "unavailable."  So, we went off to the dining room the first night  to discover we had been assigned a table with great people.  A family and friends group from Canada who warmly welcomed us into their circle.  We decided we didn't want a change after all.  Things do have a way of working out. Our cabin was a D2 which we got on a guarantee.  The only difference I could see between that and an E2 (which we have had before) is the sofa was longer so I guess the cabin was longer, too. It was still just as "skinny."   There was a shampoo dispenser in the shower but no soap dispenser.  If you have a  "soap on a rope" stashed away, now would be a good time to use it.  The little bars provided slip through the wires on the soap holder and good luck picking it up without getting out of the shower. The shower had solid, curved doors rather than a curtain that "loves" you.   The cabin steward emptied the mini-bar but put all the items to the side of the fridge inside its "cubby.".  As the cruise progressed, the fridge "moved" over and one of the soda cans got punctured by the door hinge.  So we took everything out and put it on shelving on the side which was not being used, telling the room steward why.  He offered to take the things away but we told him no need to.  We did not get charged for the soda.  Another thing I liked about our balcony was it was glass below the railing vs. steel that we had on the Voyager.  Three previous trans-Atlantics have been on the Voyager so this review will make inevitable comparisons between the two ships.  The layout is the same other than different names for the venues except the Sports Bar was replaced by a wine bar. To me, the crew was much friendlier.    Not that they weren't on the Voyager but I felt more so on the Navigator. There seemed to be better organization throughout the cruise particularly in the area of port calls and accuracy in the Compass.  They had separate gangways for the ship's tours so that alleviated the crowding to get off.  We only disembarked one time with the "masses" to catch a private tour and walked off the ship with little or no delay.  Other times, we waited until later as we didn't have any tours lined up other than the HOHO.  There were fewer announcements.  I can only remember one or two for Bingo or the Art Auction.  The ship offered shuttle service into town centers but it wasn't heavily hawked with words like "you are miles from town and you need to buy our service because cabs are not readily available or more expensive (pick one).  In fact, you weren't that far from town and, if you shared a cab, it was cheaper than four individual shuttle tickets.   If you got off and decided to hoof it after seeing how close you were, you could get your unused shuttle ticket(s) refunded.  We are big time trivia players.  The prizes were much better than on the Voyager which seemed to only have key chains, pens, and water wallets. We got backpacks, shoulder bags, photo albums, hats, t-shirts, halfway useful stuff.  It  probably helped that they are doing away with their Vitality Program so they had items you traded for tickets to get rid of.  However, I heard on the Voyager TA at the same time, it was water wallets, pens, and key chains for trivia.  The hosts were more congenial and their English easy to understand.  On the Voyager there seemed to always be a confrontation at every game over one or two questions and some passengers getting quite ugly to the entertainment staff.   Did not happen once on this cruise.  There was one question that clearly had the wrong answer to it on the paper and the host  discarded it as even she knew Beethoven did not die in 1927 (lol).   There were three or four games a day, although, the 8:00 p.m. one usually involved a music theme trivia as in "name that tune/artist/movie" which was not our strong point. They had a trivia marathon which kept a running score for the 10:00 a.m. sea-day trivia sessions with the final held on the last day.   Unfortunately, the last day trivia was evicted from our usual meeting place at 10:00 a.m. by the art auction so the final was at 10:15 p.m.  The art auction had been a "problem" on most of our morning sessions trying to set up and this severely limited seating.  All the teams seemed to make it to the late hour for the final session.  All the trivia games were held in the Schooner Bar other than the marathon which was in Ixtapa.  However, the Schooner is too small a venue for trivia and seats went fast so people were pulling stools out of the casino and from the bar.  I did not think the production shows were as good as on the Voyager. The dancing was good but the sets minimal and the songs were for the most part ones we were not familiar with.  Husband and I had a running argument over whether the music was live or recorded.  It was probably a little of both.  The main singers may have been live and the orchestra was on the stage in the background during one of the shows.  However, on another show they were in the pit at the beginning which was lowered when the show started but not covered and I didn't see any tops of heads showing (we were in the balcony) nor were they bought back up when acknowledged after the show was over.  The third show I never saw the orchestra either before or after.  The Cruise Director was missing in action unless on stage.  At the M&M for our cruise critic group the staff had a few raffle prizes one of which was a small stuffed seal which I won.  The Activities Director hosting the M&M told me to bring the seal  to Bingo because there were some bonus things that went with it.  He was late getting there and when he got there, he had to chase down the sheet of paper which took awhile.  Turned out it was worthless stuff for me like 10 percent off at a gift store or something off spa treatment, or extra jackpot card for Bingo.  Anyway, while waiting, the card sales were going on, I did some calculating.  It was $32 for six cards for each of four games.  They had an electronic thingee for $67 that had 30 "cards" on it.  You just sat and held it and it did all the work keeping up with the numbers.  Other things was a strip of somethings (scratch offs???)  that if you bought you got a t-shirt, and you could buy my seal for $12 that came with the sheet of discounts.  If you bought  two "packets," you got an extra jackpot card of three games.  A lot of ways to separate you from your money.  When the game started, I counted about 80 people there.  Say they paid an average of $50 a person (and I think that is conservative) that would be $4,000.  The first game was straight bingo, around 10 numbers called, three winners split $76.  Next game was four corners, again about a dozen numbers called, think that one was worth $92.  The next game was "postage stamp" winner(s) got $102.  The last game was coverall and if all your numbers were covered in 44 pulls, you got the jackpot of around $1,500.  If not, then the game continued and the winner got $128 or thereabouts and some money was put towards the last session "jackpot must go" coverall.  Now you do the math.  $4,000 minimum taken in, and $400 paid out plus maybe $500 held back for the final day jackpot unless someone covered up all the numbers earlier with the allotted pulls.  That's $3,000 in their pocket each of the six sessions they had.   Out of curiosity, I went down to a couple of more games and the number of players participating were down (they can do math, too) so the payoffs were even less and split many times. The last coverall game where the jackpot would be given away had maybe 100 people there and the jackpot was $3,600.  They called 60 numbers before someone got it.  $67 electronic handhelds won most of the prizes—doh.   I figure the cruise line made about $18,000 on that little venture. The M&M was well attended with the Activities Director emceeing it with some helpers. They had punch and appetizers.  Raffle prizes were given out and everyone received a bag with a water wallet in it.  The helper facilitated the gift exchange by handing out drawing tickets to those that participated when they turned in their gifts and then delivering the gifts after their number was called.  Food I would like to say it has improved.  Not.  I've learned on the TA's that once the menu gets to Steak Diane, it is going to go downhill from there in my opinion.  They did have lobster twice—once on the Fisherman's Platter and again as "surf and turf." Unfortunately that night they had a special showing of the ice show for Platinum, Diamond, etc. people at 8:00.  Since our dinner hour was 8:30, we went to the Windjammer to eat prior to the show.  However, before the show started, they told us that it would be o.k. for late seating to go late to dinner.  Wish we had known that beforehand.  Both lobster dinners were on a formal night.  If you like salmon, fish, pasta, chicken then you are in business.  No one at our table availed themselves of the $15 steak so I can't comment on that.  It really saves me from myself because I don't agonize over which appetizer, entrEe or dessert to order and end up ordering multiples.  I've never left the dining room hungry, there is always something even if I make a meal on appetizers, soup and dessert. We ate lunches in the Windjammer and could always find a place to sit either by ourselves or asking someone at a large table if we could join them.   I noticed some people would come in and get their silverware and place it on a table to save it while getting their food.  I usually just had soup and dessert but husband filled his plate and there seemed to be a good selection.  The plates have shrunk from the large oval ones to regular dinner plate size.  No trays.  Service was pretty good with clearing tables and getting drinks if you asked. We ate all our breakfasts in the MDR.  On the Voyager, the MDR had an "express" breakfast buffet that had fruit, bread, eggs, bacon, etc. your basics every day.   You could, also, order omelets, pancakes, etc. from the menu.  On this ship, they had a buffet some days or maybe just a fruit bar or a pancake making bar or nothing at all a few times.  So I can't address how the seating was at breakfast in the Windjammer. Casino They only had about seven penny slots and one was down the entire cruise.  Two of them paid off enough to keep you entertained for a half-hour or so with a dollar at a penny a pull.  The others just sucked up your money faster than a tornado through a trailer park so you had no trouble at getting a seat at those.  Usual table games but I did notice the minimum at BJ was $5 rather than the $6 on the Voyager.  On formal nights, it was non-smoking in the evenings. I didn't happen to go through there so I can't comment on whether the attendance was up or down.  I do know that non-smokers were very pleased, though.  Cost Cutting/Amenities No chocolates, towel animals some nights but not every night.  On the good side, the Compass was not loaded up with all the inserts as in the past.  The Art Auction one was always there but I suspect Park Galleries supplies those and they had the half "strip"of  promotions but that was it.   Gift is slated to go in September.  We got the ever popular baseball hats this time. No daily "newspaper" was a real bummer because on a TA you are in a vacuum as far as news goes.  CNN on the television was reruns of what we had already seen four days before and Fox News didn't provide much either. We got bits and pieces about the Swine Flu.  ESPN equally worthless—taped reruns of long ago played games—usually soccer.  I did go to the concierge lounge twice to see what it was like.  I didn't stay more than a few minutes each time.  Neither time was it crowded (11:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.)  Not being a coffee drinker and wanting more than a danish and juice for breakfast, this is one amenity I won't miss come September 1. Because of the length of a TA cruise, you are bound to have a lot of older, retired, multi cruised RCL people.  This was no exception so an overflow lounge was utilized in the evenings.  I know people have said it is not about the drinks but, trust me, it is about the drinks.  I made a mental note of people around me and for every glass of wine/champagne I saw poured, I saw five or six mixed drinks.  I saw people downing several mixed drinks in an hour.   I will be interested to see how that ratio works on our return TA in November when the mixed drinks are 25% off and wine/champagne is free  The service was outstanding in the lounge and the appetizers plentiful and good.  There was a lot of socializing when people would come into the lounge and spot friends and join them or made arrangements to meet there at a certain time.  If seating was "tight" (like right before the first dinner seating when you have second dinner seating people coming in before 1st seating people have left), people were not shy about asking to join you if you had seats at your table and always welcomed.  It really is a good perk to get together with fellow cruisers and I am glad that Royal Caribbean is keeping it in some fashion. They had a section by the pool roped off for suites but I never saw more than three or four sitting there.  Since the weather, for the most part, was windy and cool, there was no problem getting seats elsewhere.  No chair hogs this cruise!  In the show room they roped off the first two rows of the balcony for the suite guests.  However, I heard some people just stepped over the ropes and sat down.  Maybe they were suite people. We were laughing because the first row of the balcony is not that desirable because the railing obstructs the view.  I did not see either the pool or the theater area being "monitored" to make sure it was only being used by suite guests.  We never had any problems getting a seat in the theater even coming at the last minute.   I have no ill will towards the suite guests getting these perks any more than against those that ride first class in an airplane while I am crammed in the back.  They paid a lot more than I did for the cruise so they deserve more than I get.  The Value Booklet has been gutted for all practical purposes.  Wine is a BOGO, JR has a BOGO for a milkshake only, coffee, same, percentage off things of like 10 percent—just about everything required you to buy something to get something.  They did still have the $5 match play at the casino and the slot pull coupon.  Has anybody ever won anything with that other than a key chain or t-shirt? Admittedly, the service is not as good as in the "old days" but that is due to cutting back on the staff not the staff not doing their job.  They can only do so much in the time allotted to them.  Our room steward was as good as we have ever had.   Our dining waiters were, also, satisfactory. Our waiter was new so there were some "whiffs" but still better service than I have had on many cruises.   I noticed we saw the head waiter much more frequently now as he/she is pitching in to take up the slack when necessary.  In the "old days" about the only time we ever saw him was when he was "trolling for tips."  A quick "how is everything" while looking past you  plotting the move to the next table.  Hence, I was never quick with a tip for them if I didn't ask for anything from them.  Now, I feel they earn the tip because they are so visible and helpful. This is a review so I am not going to editorialize on my opinions of the new policy of not allowing OBC/discounts being combined or the Diamond loyalty program cuts other than to say the playing field as been leveled in our choosing future cruises.  Library It was as pitiful as it is on the Voyager.  Bring your own reading material.  On the last day, I was taking up a paper back I had finished planning to put it on the shelf.  As I entered, there was a lady doing "dumpster diving" in the box that you return books in.  She had placed some of her books in there.  I know because she pointed out one she said she had finished by the same author of ones I was putting in there.  There were many paper backs which the library doesn't have.  I was wondering how one would distinguish what hardback was a donation and what was the library's when husband pointed out the library had "dots" on the spine to facilitate shelving them.  So, if you get desperate for reading material, do some dumpster diving.  It seems to me that Royal could dedicate some shelves for a "book exchange" since a lot of their shelves are empty.  Sick Bay Unfortunately, I had to visit the medical facilities.  My ears stopped up—probably a combination of air pressure flying in and build up of wax.  While it didn't seem that crowded when I went to the waiting room (maybe a half dozen people there and some were waiting with companions), it was still over an hour after I signed in to be looked at.  Once  the doctor saw me, he was very professional but English was definitely a second language and I had trouble understanding him.   Boy, am I glad I had insurance. $70 to walk through the door, $82 each ear to treat it, $35 for "medication" which was some ear drops and peroxide. I think I'll come out about even paying for insurance vs. charges.  I heard a broken wrist was over $3K.  Buy that insurance!! When checking in, the nurse went over the $70 charge to be seen and said that there would be an additional charge for services and medication.  So it is not like she didn't warn me.    I noticed a vending machine for OTC medications outside the door.  Didn't check out the prices, though.  Smoking As a smoker, I found the smoking rules very acceptable.  As I mentioned before, no smoking on formal nights in the casino.  I was surprised that smoking was allowed in the Two Poets Pub because on the Voyager, I heard, they don't have it in the Pub there anymore.  I never smoked in the cabin to begin with as a courtesy to those that would occupy the cabin after me so this was not a problem for me.  I did smoke on our balcony when the balconies on either side were not being occupied.  Early in the cruise, when my neighbor was out on the balcony at the railing, I did ask him if my smoking on the balcony bothered him and he told me it did not.   In the Schooner Bar, they have taken the smoking away from the "main" area but there is smoking allowed by the casino entrance.  Smoking allowed on one side of the Bolero Lounge separated by the stairs in the atrium.  Smoking was allowed on the Starboard side of the pool deck.  There were no ashtrays on the tables but a lot of "standing" ashtrays scattered around.  I was glad I had my Altoids tin to use.  Overall, I think their smoking policy is very fair for smokers.  While I am sure the many non-smokers would like to see the entire ship non-smoking or smokers relegated to the top deck by the smoke stack, that is not going to happen.  I think Carnival's Paradise showed this not to be an economical option.    I think Royal Caribbean has a good balance accommodating both smokers and non-smokers. If smoking on balconies bothers you, then you can cruise Celebrity which does not allow it.  Disembarkation On past cruises, there was always a paragraph in the Compass about how you should buy their transportation to the airport because cabs could be a two hour wait.  I assumed they meant they weren't plentiful.  When we disembarked last year in Barcelona, we carried our own luggage off as we arranged for our own transportation to the airport with pick up at  8:30.    I saw plenty of cabs there but, keep in mind, this was 7:30 or so in the morning.  This time, we were spending the night in Barcelona so we were not in any hurry to get off the ship as our hotel room would not be ready.  I, also, noted this time we were not asked to vacate the cabin by 8:30 as we have been in the past.  Aside note:  Our cabin steward knocked on the door at 7:30 and started to come in the cabin.  So, put out the do not disturb sign the night before.  When they "kicked us off the ship" around 9:30 a.m., we got in line for the cabs.  Good news is that there were plenty of cabs.  As fast as they could load them, they were leaving with another one waiting.  The bad news, it was over an hour by the time we got in line until we got to the front of the line. I think this is where the up to two hour wait sentence came in.   I'm sure we got in the line when it was at its longest. because there were many spending extra nights in Barcelona.  I did not hear anyone boo-hooing they were going to miss their flights because of the lengthy wait.  I don't think our cab driver was happy we weren't going to the airport because to make up for it instead of going around Las Ramblas to our hotel, he went down Las Ramblas which was very slow going and the meter was ticking.  Miscellaneous Notes No hand sanitizers.  The reasoning I heard was that they aren't that effective for Norovirus to start with and that people were depending on them rather than washing their hands which is the most effective way to protect against it.  As far as I know, no one got the virus or the swine flu.  However, lots of coughing, colds, etc.  I think it is due more to being in a confined environment than lack of "sanitizing."  I do a heavy dose of building up immunity before leaving home and while flying/cruising with Airborne, Cold FX, and a few of those awful tasting zinc tablets.  So far, it has worked for me.  I could set the clock of being sick 48 hours after any long-distance flight or commencing a cruise before I started being pro-active.  The clocks were moved up at noon every day (7 of them) except for the last advancement which was done at night.  Did not have any major problems with getting elevators except during those times you would expect it—dinner, leaving the show.  We think the ones that don't go to decks 13 and 14 were quicker to arrive, though.  When reboarding after spending a day in port, if you keep on walking past the first bank of elevators you come to, you will come to a second bank and there was never a wait there for one.  No iced tea except in the Windjammer between lunch and 9:30 when it closes.  I make my own stash by putting a tea bag in a water bottle and fill it with water for those off times. Husband liberated a coffee cup from the Windjammer because he said the paper cups in the Promenade were flimsy and too hot to hold even with the thingees there to put around them. No yellow mustard—French's type.  The only mustard husband will eat.  On the Voyager you could get it in packets in the Promenade Cafe but not on this ship.  They only had Dijon type. Ports I won't go into them much as the TA's are one time stops. Tenerife One of our fellow CC members lined up a private tour which took us to the volcanos.  Very good tour and half Royal Caribbean's price.  The only downside is you must walk off the pier to get to the transportation as no cabs or tour buses other than RCL's are allowed on the pier.  It is about a ¾ mile walk.  I think what surprised me the most was I wasn't aware of how "stark" part of the island is around the volcanos.  In fact, our driver told us that movies are filmed there (and we saw one was being filmed) because it resembles moonscape and "old" West.  Reminded me of Monument Valley.  A lot of beautiful vegetation in the lower levels. Lisbon We did the HOHO bus there. Having never been to these ports, we decided to get an overview so when/if we return, we will have a better idea of what we would like to concentrate on.   I purchased all our HOHO tickets from Expedia before leaving so I would not have to worry about having Euros or finding a kiosk or whatever to purchase them once in the port.  As it turned out, you can buy them from the bus driver but they want Euros.  They may take dollars but I'm sure the exchange rate would not be good (lol).  We bought shuttle tickets from the ship but it turned out the HOHO bus stopped right in front of the terminal so we got a refund on the ship's shuttle tickets.  Those that took the shuttle were let out with a five minute walk into town. Cadiz In Cadiz, we couldn't dock where they had planned; we were put in a cargo terminal instead.   We were delayed getting off so the port call was extended an hour.  When we got off, numerous crew members (including the Captain, I heard) were deployed to direct people around the containers to the end of the pier. Again did the HOHO route.  We had to walk about ½ a mile to get into town.  The reason why we were shifted to the cargo port was because the Ruby Princess beat us to our docking place.  Once it town, we went to the tourist information office to find out where to pick up the bus.  In front of Burger King  right across the street.  Unfortunately, the stop before this stop was right in front of the Ruby Princess.  So, when the bus got to us, it was mostly full—maybe only a dozen seats left.  The first bus came and some people shall we say, were not very orderly.  Being told that it would be half an hour (it seemed longer) until the next bus came (Cadiz does not usually have that many cruise passengers in town at the same time so they were overwhelmed) we got a little more "organized."  A line was formed and people politely told where the end of it was.  After awhile a HOHO employee came over to direct people to the end of the line and keep things organized.. Malaga HOHO.  About a ½ mile walk to the bus stop along a promenade by the beach.   This is where I came to the realization that ear buds are not designed for my ears.  No matter how I pushed, shoved, twisted, they would not stay in my ear.  In Lisbon, the driver spoke over a PA system (good English, easy to understand).  In Cadiz and Malaga they had the ear buds which you could hook up and choose a language.  Mental note to self, next TA when I plan to do the HOHO, bring some el cheapo ear phones with me.  Continental Airline's won't work because they have two prongs instead of one.  You need a one pronged ear phone. Additional Notes In Tenerife, our first European stop, we tried to get Euro's.  For some reason, our cards would not work in the two ATMs we tried.. We had some Euros with us so this was not the end of the world.  If push came to shove, we had a friend who could get euros off his card for us.  In Lisbon, we again attempted to get some Euros from an ATM with no luck.  It appeared the ATM wanted  a six digit pin and we have a four digit one.  However, at a second machine, we noticed that in addition to buttons running down the side of the machine which we had pressed to "confirm our transaction"  after using them to set the transaction up, there were some buttons on the base of the machine where we could "confirm our transaction."  That worked.  For some reason we cannot fathom, we were invited to dine with the Captain.  We were in an el-cheapo balcony guarantee cabin, just made Diamond, our ship board tabs on previous cruises have been practically nothing due to OBC (on the last TA cruise got $100 back), don't wear designer clothes or expensive jewelry, don't gamble, didn't suck up to any officers, but we do clean up nice.   Dart board?  We were extended the invitation on a Monday evening at dinner and told an invitation would be forthcoming.  Tuesday evening the Head Waiter discreetly told my husband he needed to speak with us after dinner.  We figured they were going to tell us that a mistake had been made and give us a bottle of wine for our disappointment (lol).  Nope, just wanted confirmation we were coming and to give us the official invitation.  Needless to say, it was the highlight of this cruise.  The Captain and his wife were there and an officer.  The other couples invited to round out the 12-man table were just Plain Jane people like us—or appeared to be.  I was worried husband didn't have a tux with him but we were told a suit would be fine.  Only one other male guest had a tux on and he was "apologizing" saying it was all he had bought. We had a special menu, signed by the captain and wine was flowing.  They took a group picture of us from the balcony and presented it to us after dinner.   I am passing this on not to "brag" but to give everyone hope they, too, might get an invite. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to e-mail me at whitlock@alumni.utexas.net.  It was a great cruise. Read Less
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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