Sail Date: November 2008
We decided to splash out on an Owner's Suite for this crossing and paid a significant premium for the privilege. Perhaps I should say up front that we had a really good time aboard Navigator, despite the somewhat critical comments ... Read More
We decided to splash out on an Owner's Suite for this crossing and paid a significant premium for the privilege. Perhaps I should say up front that we had a really good time aboard Navigator, despite the somewhat critical comments that will follow! For us, the lesson was that if one wants a cruising experience commensurate with an investment of some $6000, then Navigator (and RCI) is not the appropriate choice. For a fraction of what we paid, we could have had just as good a time in comfortable balcony accommodations. Check in was effortless, and very efficient. We were very impressed that RCI was able to process almost 3000 passengers without long delays. Arriving on board, there was no assistance offered in finding our suite; neither were any welcome drinks offered. The ship is beautiful, and well maintained. Despite its size, it is easy to "navigate" one's way around without getting lost. Our suite, the Fiji Suite, was nicely appointed, and really spacious. There is enough closet and packing space for a household! The bathroom was stocked with premium toiletries, and a bowl of fresh fruit was awaiting us on the dining table. A bottle of complimentary mineral water was placed on the bar counter. Neither the fruit nor the water were replaced during the duration of the 12 day cruise, and on one afternoon, we received a cheese plate that was available from the room service menu. We received an access card for the small concierge lounge on Deck 9, and an invitation to the daily complimentary cocktails and snacks in the Ixtapa Lounge on Deck 5. This was the sum total of the privileges we received for booking an Owner's Suite. Our greatest disappointment was the level of indifference with which we were treated. We most certainly did not wish to be fawned upon, but some personal interaction with senior crew members would have been welcome. The "concierge service" throughout the cruise was lacking. One one occasion, we entertained guests in our suite, and asked the concierge to arrange some snacks (from the complimentary room service menu). We were informed that this would cost $350, despite the fact that we ordered wine and drinks from the ship's bar! Eventually we called room service ourselves, and our order was delivered at no charge! The concierge, Xavier, seemed disinterested and not inclined to make any effort - maybe fatigue from a season of cruising in the Mediterranean. Food...The food was of a reasonable standard (but not remarkable), in both the Windjammer Cafe and the dining room. We never had difficulty finding a table in the Windjammer during breakfast and lunch. The lunchtime menu and made-to-order salads in the dining room were excellent - perhaps the best meals we had on board. Dinner menus were somewhat repetitive in the dining room, but the food was palatable. Our waiter and assistant waiter (Glennifer and Serdar) were excellent,and were willing to go to great lengths to please. The Head Waiter, Ashton, was also wonderful. Standards have slipped, though - but quite understandable given the massive global food price increases over recent times. Getting tea and coffee outside Windjammer opening hours was a challenge and an irritation - getting early morning coffee meant a trek to Deck 5 (if we did not make our own in the suite). The star of our cruise was the bar waiter in the Ixtapa Lounge, Mark Lyttleton, who is a shining example of outstanding service. Activities and entertainment...We saw all three production shows, which were good. The highlight, though, was the special performance of "Ice Dancin'", the ice show, for Platinum and Diamond Crown & Anchor members. Wow! It was great. We enjoyed the gym facilities. Other activities were quite low-key, and influenced by the awful weather conditions across the Atlantic. (For "operational reasons" RCI decided to change our route from what was originally advertised when we booked, and the more northerly route resulted in a cold and windy crossing). We found the Cruise Director and his Assistant to be rather indifferent, and the daily video clips advertising activities on board to be reminiscent of a Butlins Holiday Camp (UK members will know what I mean). The activities staff didn't show much initiative or innovation in tailoring activities in the light of the bad weather. On a positive note, The ship's master, Captain Bang, was visible around the ship throughout the crossing (including in the gym), and communicated regularly. It would have been good if his officers had followed his example. During the cruise, it transpired that our rather bumpy ride was exacerbated by the fact that one of the two stabilizer sets on the ship was out of action. The motion caused one of the large closet doors in our suite to come off its hinges, and we were kept awake on several nights with drawers banging. In conclusion: we had a very enjoyable 12 days, but mainly due to the company of great people, and the hard work of a few outstanding crew members. It was most certainly not value for money, and although I steadfastly refrain from making comparisons with other cruise lines, RCI's premium category services are very poor indeed, by any standards. It lacks finesse and attention to detail, despite pricing that compares with premium cruise lines. Maybe a mid-priced balcony cabin in future, but never again a suite! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Background There was 5 of us on this cruise, myself, my wife and 18 year old daughter, plus my in-laws. This was our 5 cruise and third Transatlantic cruise. We had a outside stateroom on deck 2 mid ship and my in-laws had a balcony ... Read More
Background There was 5 of us on this cruise, myself, my wife and 18 year old daughter, plus my in-laws. This was our 5 cruise and third Transatlantic cruise. We had a outside stateroom on deck 2 mid ship and my in-laws had a balcony stateroom on deck 6. Travelling & Embarkation We travelled from Edinburgh to Barcelona via London City airport. It was a very early start with a 6:30 flight out of Edinburgh, but we all seemed to get up with spring in out step as it was holiday time. We arrived in Barcelona at 12:30 and were met just outside baggage collection by the RCI rep, who pointed us in the right direction of porters; this was the last we saw out luggage until we were on the ship. There was a short 20 min bus ride to the port where we were sped through the check in process. Having now attained Platinum status we were very lucky to join a very short queue and within 30-40 mins we were on the ship. After a getting slightly lost, we found our stateroom which was still in the process of getting ready. Sammy our stateroom attendant met us, what a nice guy. Nothing was a problem for him, and always seemed to be smiling as we met him coming and going. The Ship & Crew Having been on both the Mariner and Explorer; we all had a basic idea of the layout so it didn't take us long to to figure out where everything was. We knew that the Windjammer was going to busy so we headed for the Promenade Cafe on deck 5 for a few snacks. The ship it's self is still looking like it just came out the dock. Everywhere we looked someone was polishing or cleaning something. We can't praise the staff and crew highly enough, everyone we passed in the corridors had a smile or a nod to acknowledge we were there. I'll give a special mention to our Waiter, Judith and her assistant (who for the life of me I can't remember his name), plus Ray our Head Waiter, honestly the best Head Waiter we've ever had. Normally in the past we've found they only show face, smile and move on, but this guy took the time to speak to all of us. We would regularly meet him in the Windjammer always taking the time to chat. I'll also mention the bar tenders we got friendly with. Richard in the Theatre, who only after the second night knew what we were all drinking. One more was in Vintages (and I'm truly sorry I never got his name). Again he knew what I was drinking and before my bum was on the seat he was over handing me my drink, now that's service. At this point I'll mention our Cruise Director and his staff, Kieron Buffrey was for me just about right. Not in your face and subtle, which I don't think went down well with our American friends. Once again thank to the CD staff who after my wife wrote to Kieron arrange for my daughter to do a backstage tour as she is studying stage management and lighting in the theatre at collage. He had a great partner in Cuddy who managed to bounce off Kieron just nicely. I hope he makes a CD in the future. For me the only cloud on the silver lining was Captain Bang, for us he was as dully as dish water. His daily announcement were tedious, all we seemed to here was hear was his name then a became garbled with long periods of silence. I'm sure in person he's a very interesting person but on the stage of pubic speaking a small improvement is needed. Ports We didn't have many ports of call on this cruise, which is one of the reasons we choose it. The first up was Cartegena in Spain. The ship had never been docked here before so it was bit of an adventure for guest and crew alike. We did manage to get on an open top bus trip for €13 each, taking about an hour for the tour. Very nice and condensed city full of naval history. After the tour we took a stroll up to the shops. After 2 days at sea we arrived at the port of Ponta Delgada in the Azores, where we had 16 hours to kill. We've never organized a tour via the ship as we can normally find something to do. With this port we really struggled. The tourist information desk should be done under the trade descriptions as they weren't helpful at all, telling us most of the buses were off or broken. So we had to fend for ourselves. The town it's self is very compact and we managed to wander through the small streets taking in the all the sites and sounds. After returning to the ship for some lunch and a change we went back off the ship and struck lucky. It seemed we were there on the day all the Christmas lights were being switched on. It truly magical place, full of marching bands, Santa and kids playing. Our last stop came after 6 days at seas and we arrived in the port of Nassau in the Bahamas. After a small delay waiting for another ship to dock we got off and headed for the hotel Atlantis. Having been to Nassau in the past we knew where to go and how to get there so no time was wasted. We wandered round the hotel checking out the aquarium and casino, then headed back to the main town for a drink at the local Hard Rock Cafe. It was then back to the ship and prepare for the big off load at Fort Lauderdale the next morning. The Sea Days As I've said before we choose this cruise because of the amount to days at sea, which for us the must relaxing time you can have. In total out of the 12 days 8 of them were spent at sea. The only down side to this was the weather wasn't the most favorable, it was warm but for the most part overcast. To say the sea was lumpy would be a small understatement, for at least 2 days it was pretty rough, so much so when we looked our stateroom window it wasn't unusual to see the sea hitting it. We did spend this time doing all the stuff around the playing golf and roller blading and ice skating etc. The rough waters didn't stop us have a great time; sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth. We were just lucky on all the port days the sun was shinning. Entertainment This was a real mixed bag for us. We though the RCI dancers done a good job working under the conditions they do. However some of the star turns were a bit poor. Darren Day was really bad and never seemed to connect with the audience. Brenda Cochran tried very hard and has some real talent but I don't think the theatre was big enough for her voice. The real star turn was Mr Nobody (Yacov Noy). His three legged man was just classic. We did manage to see 3 showings of the Ice Dancing and we all still watch with open mouths how these people to do the things they do. With leaps, jumps and back flips it's all very cool. We just managed to stand up on the ice when the ship was moving all over the place how they do it is beyond me. Food I can't really do a review without mentioning the food. Overall it was really good. The choice within the Windjammer is amazing, if you can't find something you like you must be a very picky eater. Somethings could have been hotter. I do feel like people behave extremely badly and can be very rude within the Windjammer. Pushing in when queues have been formed, loading plates up like all the food is going to run out. I've always subscribed to you can go up as many time as you like, don't waste good food. We ate every night in the main restaurant, and there wasn't a night gone by that I couldn't find something to eat. The steak was always done the way I like it. I never walked away thinking hmm I need more to eat. In fact most nights I thought that was a lovely meal, and I don't have to do the dishes. Disembarkation We were very lucky that managed to be one of the last one off the ship, and also being Platinum member we had access to the our own waiting area, which was in the restaurant on deck 4. This made for a more pleasant experience than sitting in the theatre. By the time we got off the ship there were only a few cases left in the hall so we could spot our luggage without any problem. Clearing immigration was only a problem as some people seemed think it was a good idea to fill in their green cards when they arrived at them immigration officer. On the whole we were on our way to the airport within an hour from getting off the ship. Overall In conclusion this was a very enjoyable cruise, well worth the money we spent. Will we be doing another cruise, you better believe it, and will we choose Royal Caribbean, most defiantly yes, they tick all the right boxes for me. 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
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 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: 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: October 2010
Embarkation was very smooth. We had no trouble getting on a shuttle at Civitavecchia to take us to the ship and no line up to receive our sea pass and board. (We arrived around noon.) We had sunny days in every port. Any rain happened at ... Read More
Embarkation was very smooth. We had no trouble getting on a shuttle at Civitavecchia to take us to the ship and no line up to receive our sea pass and board. (We arrived around noon.) We had sunny days in every port. Any rain happened at night up to our last day before Fort Lauderdale when we hit the edge of Hurricane Tomas. I loved the fact that Captain Patrik was very visible. He did regular ship announcements and was available quite a few times for pictures and participated in the Make a Wish marathon we did as a fundraiser. Paul Rutter, the cruise director, also made announcements and introduced the evening entertainment. He kept us up to date without dragging everything out like on some other cruises I've been on. The meals were pretty good although our table found the soups and sauces to be salty. We didn't go to Chops or Portofinos even though we had intended to because our tablemates were great companions and we preferred to eat with them. The kitchen had quite a few new people and meals were slow to come out. We had first seating at 6 pm and were never finished until around 8:15 with second seating having to come in for 8:30. We had 6 hours to turn back on our clocks and this was done one hour at a time on sea days. Most people thought it was crazy when they announced the time would go back one hour at 3 in the afternoon so we lived 2-3 in the afternoon over again 6 times. But actually it gave us all an extra hour naptime! I think the ship's idea was to make the staff work an extra hour and the cruisers to spend an extra hour's worth of drink or shopping money. I would definitely do another transatlantic. Having the long flight to Rome first and then flying only a few hours home from Ft. Lauderdale was a good idea as we were anxious to get home. Our first port was Toulon, France. It was a Sunday so many things were closed but we took a tour on the little train and it had an informative English commentary and was an inexpensive way to see some of Toulon. Second port was Barcelona, described separately. Third port was Cartagena, described separately. Fourth port was Malaga where we went on RCI's Caves of Nerja tour. Excellent. You will get wonderful pictures. Only problem here was that the tour left the ship very early and when we got to the town of Nerja the shops were not yet open. Last port was Tenerife, described separately. 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: May 2011
Cruise Critic Roll Call Members: We had over 200 members on the active Roll Call and many volunteers organized daily activities for the big group. This made it one of the most enjoyable crossings we've ever experienced. We made ... Read More
Cruise Critic Roll Call Members: We had over 200 members on the active Roll Call and many volunteers organized daily activities for the big group. This made it one of the most enjoyable crossings we've ever experienced. We made lots of friends, who we hope to cruise with again. Embarkation: We arrived at 11:30 AM and stood in a relatively fast moving line (both outside and inside) for about 45 minutes. The staff was pleasant and helpful. Cabins were ready at 1 PM. Cruise Critics assembled for a Sail Away Party after the Muster Drill. Great fun. Ship: The ship was in good condition for its age and we eventually learned the large layout. We got to like the way the ship is laid out with an indoor promenade. Placement of dining room, show room, lounges and cafe was typical of large ships and better than Carnival. The ship is 15 decks high and rode the open seas very well. We had smooth sailing and very good weather for the crossing. Cabin: Our balcony cabin (#6322) was on the starboard "hump" and therefore slightly larger than others in that category. The location near the rear elevators was perfect. We were one deck above our dining level and near the elevators for a ride to deck 11 for the Windjammer Cafe. The cabin size is typical of ships this size. We used the balcony only a few times. The beds were comfortable. Linens and carpet were clean. On the negative side: The bathroom seemed smaller than other ships we've been on. We had a very slow drain in our sink. The TV was old and the programming was slim. No ice was provided in the cabin. We had plastic SOLO cups for glasses in the bathroom. Our stateroom attendant's name was not provided in our cabin and did not present himself on the first day. Stateroom Attendant: He kept the room clean but visited it only twice per day. He did not make himself know to us for a few days. I ran into him once during the entire cruise. He did provide 4 towels instead of the normal two. But we've had much better service on other cruises. Recommended tip for him. Dining: We found the Windjammer Cafe relatively clean but always crowded. The staff seemed shy but friendly. The breakfast buffet quickly became boring. Pastries were stale. Toasted bagels were like a rock. Had to wait in line for a cup of coffee. The omelet ordering process was tedious. Some food was cold. The eggs were a purveyor's ready mix product with food coloring added and quite watery - not fresh scrambled eggs. Bacon and sausage were OK. Waffles and French Toast were pretty poor products. The Main Dining Rooms (3 decks high) were nicely decorated and clean. Early dining was moved to 5:30 PM. The variety of meals offered were somewhat disappointing. They offered daily standards of Sirloin Steak or Salmon. The Salmon was quite good. The steak was deplorable. 3 at our table had to send it back and order something else. It needs to be removed from the menu. When Lobster & Filet was offered, the lobster was miniscule. We all laughed that a single shrimp would have made a better Surf 'n Turf. Overall the food was barely acceptable and has gone down another notch since last year's TA on the Jewel OTS. Wine was very expensive. A $16 bottle of 10 Year Vine XY Zin sold for $49 onboard including tip. It took 30 minutes to get a cocktail ordered and delivered to the table. They need a dedicated cocktail waitress and a sommelier for the dining rooms. Lunch in the main dining room offered a made-to-order salad. That was excellent. The pasta offerings were not good. Other items for lunch were acceptable. Cafe Promenade offered stale donuts. Johnny Rockets should be closed or made no charge. Alternate Dining: We dined at Portofino's and found it below the level we experienced on Celebrity ships. At $25pp we went there only once. My meal was average. Dining Room Staff: Our waiter and assistant were good, not great. Respectful and friendly. The head waiter interrupted our conversations often. He lost my bottle of wine, mis-marking it for another table who enjoyed it, I'm sure. Our tablemates had to convince him that a full bottle was put aside two days ago after it was opened and only sampled. He finally "bought me" another bottle. Extra tip for the waiter and assistant but much less for the head waiter. Entertainment: The CD was Mike Hunnerup from Australia and he quickly grew on us. He was fun and approachable. The staff, including Richard, the Activities Director, were friendly and helpful. Just one person had an "attitude" we didn't appreciate. The stage entertainment ran the gamut. Some poor, most mediocre and a few memorable. Individual singers tend to be poor. The variety was good however. RCL held a nice Meet & Mingle for us on Day 3. At my suggestion they had a few Bridge Tour door prizes for lucky members. Quest is a big hit and was held on the ice rink. Great adult fun. Ship's Staff: Captain Patrik Dahlgren is probably the best we've encountered on all the ships we've cruised on. He stopped at all the dining room tables for conversation and photos during the cruise. Very engaging. He's an asset to RCL. Enrichment: Did not enjoy Joe Condrill's lectures or Hohn & Donna Mollan's presentations very much. I've see much better on other cruises. We missed Jack Cochrane's (Cruise Critic member) lecture about water on day 7 because of a conflict. Don't believe it was taped either. We were disappointed we missed him. Facilities: The Internet Cafe is too expensive and too slow to use often. Library was average for cruise ships. Fitness facility was very good but no TVs on the equipment. Smoke in some of the lounges and part of the casino is still problematic. Champagne Bar was expensive. The Wine Bar on the promenade was way overpriced. Way too much selling on the floors all day. You ran into tables set up to sell goods and services everywhere. It is quite annoying. Seems that after early dining, your opportunity for after dinner dancing lasts just 30 minutes. No venue existed that played dance music from 7:30-9:00 PM for us. Ports of Call: We were happy to visit Tenerife for the first time. Ship's excursions were too expensive for the full day (5 hr.) tour ($99pp). A Cruise Critic member organized a longer tour on a private basis for just $21pp. We enjoyed it. Mallorca and Ajaccio were somewhat interesting. We prefer the Azores. The printed port information provided by the ship is almost useless. We bring our own maps. Debarkation: Needed luggage tags for an earlier time and had to wait in line at Guest Relations to move up 1 hour earlier. We walked off and found our (damaged) luggage in little time. There was no time to report a claim. The taxis would only take passengers for Rome and not local destinations like Civitavecchia. We took the FREE port bus to the port entrance and then walked to the rail station. Took about an hour. Overall: We notice RCL quality going downhill each year. Both for food quality and service. Cruise rates are stable but onboard charges keep going up. Ours was $950 this trip. Ouch! We may not use RCL again next year. Regards, Florida Rich... Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
We flew down from Dulles to Ft. Lauderdale on the morning of the cruise.Embarkation was efficient and friendly.The buffet spread for the boarding passengers was very good.Our room steward, Soma, was great. He did everything we asked of ... Read More
We flew down from Dulles to Ft. Lauderdale on the morning of the cruise.Embarkation was efficient and friendly.The buffet spread for the boarding passengers was very good.Our room steward, Soma, was great. He did everything we asked of him, and we probably were more demanding, at least at first, than average in terms of robes, amenities, ice. His towel animals were nice to come home to.Our balcony cabin was perfect for us. Plenty of room to put things for two people. The bed was very comfortable. The room was quiet and our neighbors were very nice. In fact, in general staff and passengers were great. There were few gripers.The library was well managed, and we were able to get interesting books to read. We had Kindle backups, if that hadn't been the case, but we mainly used the library.Because of time changes, we had six 23 hour days. That uncomfortably compressed our food consumption and we skipped lunch several times, or went very light on lunch because we were at the 5:30 seating for dinner. However, changing time at noon was the best approach. The people working on the ship work very hard and need what little sleep they can get.The ship was very clean and well maintained.At the social function, wine and mixed drinks flowed more than I'd experienced on other cruises.The cruise critic mix and mingle was a huge event. It was wonderful. We spent a lot of time with another couple for Herndon, and I departed tipsy on champagne.Although the quality of the shows varied some, every evening show was worth attending. Because the ship was almost full, it was a good idea to go early. We attended the 8:30 shows. The band was very good, as were the guest performers. The ship's dancers seemed shaky at the first show on May 2, but were quite good at every other performance.Entertainment was good around the ship, especially the Latin Express.The ice show was fabulous.The fitness center ran smoothly and was well equipped.Because of wave motion and maintenance, the pools were often not available, but the hot tubs mostly were.The quality of the food in the dinning rooms was very good, and the buffet was good. Definitely above average.Our waiter, Daniel, and assistance waiter, Dasran, were the best.We were a rowdy group of 8. Captain Patrick came by one evening and said with a smile, "So, this is the noisy table!" As to the captain in a social sense, despite his youth, he was as good as it gets on a cruise. The fictional Love Boat Captain pales in comparison. The 8 of us at our table, Bonnie, David, Peter, Helen, Diana, Diane, Lynn and I got along. Four of us were UUs, so we "got" each other on several levels. David, Bonnie, Lynn and I were in Cruise Critic, so we "got" each other. Helen is from Alexandria, next to Fairfax County, where we live. Like Lynn and I, Peter also spent a lot of time with David and Bonnie. The ship activities were mostly well run and interesting or fun. The staff on board was very good overall.Our excursions on Tenerife, Mayorca, and Corsica were good and our free time in those places were good too. They are all beautiful islands with fabulous scenery, history, culture, and towns.Only 60 of the 3000 plus passengers were kids, but the ship tried hard to make it a good cruise for them. I think they mostly were happy with how it went.This was our first Transatlantic cruise, and I just can't say enough good things about it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2011
We have just got back from a 13 night transatlantic on the Navigator of the Seas (Fort Lauderdale to Rome). There were 3 of us, myself, my wife, and our 3 year old daughter, and we got a good deal on a Grand Suite (1278). This was our 10th ... Read More
We have just got back from a 13 night transatlantic on the Navigator of the Seas (Fort Lauderdale to Rome). There were 3 of us, myself, my wife, and our 3 year old daughter, and we got a good deal on a Grand Suite (1278). This was our 10th cruise, and our daughter's 4th, previously we have cruised on QE2 (x2), QM2, QV (x2), IoTS, Voyager, Mercury, and the Seabourn Spirit. We are Brits (only around 60 of us onboard).The ship called at Tenerife, Mallorca, Corsica, and finally Rome. Check In Check in was quick and efficient, as suite guests, we did not have to queue and were on board within 10 minutes. Non suite guests seemed to be checked in quickly also. We received our gold coloured sea pass card (only GS and above get this) which carries a number of privileges (discussed later). Also in FLL that day was the Equinox, which was also doing a transatlantic, although a more northerly route to us. We checked in at 12:45, but our bags did not arrive until around 5pm. The lifeboat drill was held outside, and seemed to take aged. Many people were complaining that they needed to sit down. 3 days prior to check in, we received an e-mail from Karen (the Concierge), introducing herself and outlining the perks of travelling in a suite. The Suite The suite exceeded our expectations, looking much better than in the photos on the RCI website. It was very clean and spacious; with a flat screen TV, Bose hi-fi, DVD player, video player. Also, there was a coffee maker and a kettle (on the Navigator, only suite guests get a kettle). The bathroom was spacious, with a double sink and a bath with shower over - plenty big enough for us. I preferred the suite to the Queens Grill suites on the QV as it was more open plan, we could utilise the space more effectively with our daughter. The balcony was very nice (as the suite was double the width of a standard balcony cabin), and had a sun bed and also a rattan table with 2 chairs - very nice for having breakfast on the balcony when coming into Corsica. The double sofa turned into a bed where our daughter slept. There was also a full dividing curtain separating the bedroom area from the rest of the suite. We also had a complimentary bottle of Evian (only one though), and a leather bound folder which highlighted the suite perks, and contained the full menu for the day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, extended cocktail and wine menu that was afforded to suite guests. The dinner menu was updated daily. Our suite steward was excellent (we have been lucky never to have had a bad room steward) - the room was made up whilst we were at breakfast, and turned down when we were at dinner. Ice, coffee, tea etc. topped up twice a day (or as requested) Suite Perks: Basically, the main suite perks were: 1) Reserved seating on the pool deck, ice shows, main theatre, therefore we never had to worry about having anywhere to sit, or having to get to the shows early to guarantee a good seat 2) Use of the Concierge Lounge (deck 9) where there was a coffee machine, continental breakfast, afternoon sandwiches and cakes. Also, Karen was there at certain times during the day (and always contactable by phone) to give any help and advice and answer any queries - suite guests therefore never needed to queue up at guest relations as Karen could take care of everything. In addition, she had the keys to the DVD and CD library. 3) Free bar and nibbles in the Ixtapa lounge from 4:30pm to 8:00pm - the lounge was open only to Suite guests and (I think) C&A members that were Diamond and up. Unfortunately, children were not allowed in here, so we only used this facility twice 4) Behind the scenes tours - we went on a tour of the bridge (you could also tour the engine control room and the galley, but space was limited and we did not sign up early enough), and also were invited to a reception where we went to the staterooms of the Captain, Chief Engineer, and Hotel Director - lots of free drinks and a very nice food presentations being made available 5) Invitations to 2 suite only receptions with senior staff, again with lots of free drinks and a very nice food presentations being made available 6) Quality toiletries (well, the same Gilchrest and Soames that you get with Cunard), and chocolates on the pillow (nice ones) 7) Someone knocked on the door one day with a very nice cheese plate - not sure if they only deliver this if you are in as we only got this once, but it was excellent. 8) Breakfast and lunch in Portofino's - you could avoid the crowds in the Windjammer and eat here, where tables were laid out properly (table cloths, nice cutlery etc.), and waiting staff, however you needed to go to the Windjammer to get your own food (there was fruit, cereal and pastries in Portofino's for breakfast though). 9) Extended in suite dining menu - also room service was always on time and as ordered. Everything that should have been hot was hot. On a 13 night cruise (especially with the first week at sea), these perks were really appreciated, and well used. Especially as the suite was not that more expensive than a D1 balcony cabin (£800 if I recall). Condition of the Ship The ship was in very good shape. Some signs of tiredness (some scuffs here and there), and some areas did have an unpleasant odour - the amusement arcade, and the walkway to the Aquanaut's play area for example. The ship was very stable (although we did have good weather for the crossing). This was the first cruise that I have not needed sea sickness tablets (my 10th cruise). The ship was nearly full but felt nowhere as crowded as the IoTS last November - you could always get a seat for a quiz for example, where you had no chance on the IoTS unless you arrived very early. There were also an impressive number of events where free 'champagne' was made available. There was no vibration from the engines (something that we have experienced on QM2 and QV), and the suite was very well insulated from external noise. The air conditioning around the ship did not seem to be cold enough and we did find ourselves quite hot in the theatre. Service The Captain (Patrick) was excellent, very visible and approachable. Also very humorous. We saw him on a number of occasions having breakfast / lunch in Portofino's and he made a point of speaking to everyone. The Cruise Director (Mike) was ok, but we never saw his sidekick. Our best cruise director was John (and Steve as the sidekick) on IoTS last November - Mike just did not seem to do much. The cruise was made up of c80% Americans / Canadians, so this may be what they like (only around 60 Brits). Dining Room - excellent staff - James (waiter) and Alner (assistant) were fun, knowledgeable and interacted really well with us and our little girl. Aston, the Head Waiter was also excellent, visiting us at least twice each meal - our daughter took a real shine to him. Bar staff - all very pleasant Entertainment staff - very good, especially Timmy and Rio ('from Rio') who were a lot of fun running the quizzes Children's facilities The Navigator catered very well for children. There were about 15 people in my daughter's age group (3-5) and there were lots of free activities every day. It was a real shame that our girl only went to a couple of sessions (she flatly refused any more). The problem is that we (as parents) were not allowed into the play area to settle her, it was a case of dropping her off and that was that. With Cunard, you can go in and make sure they are settled before leaving. As with Cunard we were given a pager in case we were needed back at the play area. There are also a number of occasions where children can have lunch with the staff (with a charge), or dinner (no charge) - but there are financial penalties if you are late, loose / damage a pager, or want your little one to stay after 10pm. Overall, I would say that Cunard's children's facilities (QV) are more modern and more personal, but still, those on the Navigator were very good and there was an excellent variety in the programme (which was delivered each day to the room). Shows The Ice Show was, as always, excellent Some of the entertainers were tailored to the American market - one comedian and a Celine Dion tribute act was not our cup of tea. Once again, Jonathan Kane was on board (Elton John tribute) and we were not going to go (this was the 4th time he has been on a cruise of ours), but we did see him in the end, and I have to say he was excellent - the Americans loved him and at least 100 of them got up on the stage to dance to Crocodile Rock, the audience participation really made his performance a memorable event (and he had slightly changed his act since we saw him last). The singers and dancers were good, but very loud, and the band were ok, however not as good as on the IoTS band last November who had the most amazing drummer. Food Food was excellent - lots of choice, always hot and very tasty. My wife was very happy that they served English breakfast tea throughout the ship. Another positive with RCI is that tea, coffee, water, iced tea, lemonade and fruit punch is always free in the Windjammer (and in most other places throughout the ship). Also, waiters throughout the ship are more than happy to get you the free drinks - I get the feeling on Cunard that if you want a free drink, you have to get it yourself...no such feeling with RCI. Disembarkation Very smooth - we had a tour of Rome then to the airport, so were off the ship by 7:30 (so up at 5am). This all went really well. Summing up I would have to say that this was the best cruise we have been on. I would highly recommend a transatlantic crossing on the Navigator and the Suite accommodation and perks were outstanding (especially with a 3 year old and the extra space required). Crew and staff were excellent, although cruise director was only so so. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
We are two sixty-somethings who have been cruising since 2005. We have cruised on Carnival, Princess and are C&A Diamond Members on RCCL. This was our 4th transatlantic but first on RCCL (three on Princess) and our 24th cruise overall. ... Read More
We are two sixty-somethings who have been cruising since 2005. We have cruised on Carnival, Princess and are C&A Diamond Members on RCCL. This was our 4th transatlantic but first on RCCL (three on Princess) and our 24th cruise overall. We typically do 2 transatlantics a year to take advantage of R/T airfare. I will briefly mention prices throughout the review as many folks are interested in that information.We flew to FLL from Syracuse on Delta with no problems. We stayed at the Comfort Inn and Suites Cruiseport on S Federal Highway. We got a great rate through Skoosh ($80 per night) which included breakfast and free airport shuttle. The hotel offers a shuttle to the cruise port for $5 but we opted for a taxi ($10) as we wanted to get an early start. We arrived at the ship at 10:30 and were on board by 11:00. Embarkation was a breeze. Most folks head to the windjammer but our routine is a bit different. We head to the Pub on the Royal Promenade. I scoop the seats and order a couple of tall Murphys Red drafts will my DW goes to the Promenade Cafe and scoops the munchies. They offer sandwiches, pizza, sweets, cookies and fruit. It's never crowded and we avoid the pandemonium that seems a fixture of the Windjammer on embarkation day. Then we settle in and watch the people coming on board as they ooh and aah their way down the promenade. Rooms were available at 1 pm and our luggage arrived shortly thereafter. We were in a D3 #6360 on the starboard side. Our champagne was waiting but NOT iced down. This was soon remedied by a passing waiter. Our stateroom attendant, Jeanette, stopped by to introduce herself and we gave her our little list of immediate needs (feather pillows, robes, extra hangers, twin beds, extra towels, empty out the fridge etc.) and we gave her a nice tip for her prompt attention to our needs. Muster was at 4:00 and it was the shortest we have ever had. I still like the Princess way where muster is held in the lounges sitting down in air conditioned luxury. Sailaway found us toasting our new adventure on our balcony as we left Ft Lauderdale in our wake.We had a table for two in the Nutcracker Dining Room late traditional at 8 pm. Our waiter was Darius and his assistant was Jean. They were good but not outstanding. Our Headwaiter was conspicuous by his absence. He stopped by a few times but was less than engaging. We opted for the Diamond wine package and were pleased with the selections. I'm not sure what folks are expecting but at a cost of $25 per bottle with the package, we thought it was as good or better than typical restaurant selections and prices. We took a couple bottles to our stateroom to enjoy at sailaways. A word about the food on this cruise...GREAT!!! Once again, I'm not sure what folks expect from a mass-market cruiseline but we were quite pleased with the quality, selection and presentation. We had most of our meals in the dining room but took advantage of the extended hours in the Windjammer on days when we couldn't get to the dining room. We thought that the food was quite good there as well. We did dine at Portofino one night and it was delightful as usual. The shrimp risotto is just the best!To adjust for the time change, clocks were turned ahead at noon. this seemed to work very well.The library on deck seven was the most disorganized we have ever encountered. Nothing alphabetized and no method to the madness. We had brought several books with us and took advantage of the books left by our fellow cruisers for exchange.The Diamond Event was held in the Dungeon each evening from 4:30-8:00 pm. It's a bit dark and claustrophobic in there but after the second glass of wine, we found we could enjoy ourselves quite well thank you.We can't comment on the shows as we never attended a single one! We did attempt to see a movie in the Screening Room once but it was a fiasco. By the time the first-showing guests had squeezed their way past those pushing their way in to get the best seats, the movie had started and the only seats left were much too close to the screen. Points for Princess in this regard as their theater has more seats and allots few minutes between screenings to allow for an orderly transition.Ports visited included Tenerife, Mallorca and Ajaccio. We did no excursions as this was the first time we had visited these ports and we prefer to walk around the town and get the feel of the place before we excurse. We are visiting these same ports later so we'll consider excursions then. Tenerife was OK; Mallorca a bit more interesting; but our favorite by far was Ajaccio. We found a great little restaurant where we had a giant bucket of mussels, crusty bread, frites and house wine for the princely sum of 34 euros. Some might call that expensive; we thought it was cheap at twice the price.We arrived at Civitavecchia quite early and were off the ship by 7:45. We joined others for a shared shuttle into Rome (a big thanks to Chipper and Smiley for arranging this) and were checked into our hotel by noon. We stayed at the Hotel Katty, Via Palestro 35 which we had found through Venere.com. It's a couple blocks from the Metro stop so quite convenient. The price for a double room with bath, fridge and flat-screen TV was 89 euros per night which included breakfast (choice of coffees and massive cream-filled croissants) at a nearby cafe/bar. The hotel was spotlessly clean and we had the best room on the house (top floor corner with a nice view. The typically tiny (maybe ten square feet) elevator was an adventure. There are Internet cafes nearby for checking in for flights. The hotel doesn't offer much in the way of services but it was perfect for us.Our favorite restaurant in Rome is worth a paragraph itself. We happened upon it a few years ago and now it's the only place we eat. It's called Ristorante Pizzeria Carlo Menta, Via della Lungaretta, 101 in Trastevere and it's a 15 minute walk from either the Vatican, Piazza Navonna, the Pantheon or the Vittorio Emmanuelle monument. They offer a tourist menu (I know some folks sneer at these but this one is a winner) with 4 courses (10 euros at lunch; 13 euros at dinner) that is to die for. It starts with fresh tomato and olive oil bruschetta (2 giant hunks), pasta (4 choices; I personally recommend the penne Carlo Menta), a meat course (4 choices; I personally recommend the cotelette de veal Milanese style) and dessert (3 choices; creme caramel, house cake of the day [one day a chocolate cream tart; another an apple tart] and fruit salad [bowl of fruit sections]). We always order a liter of the house red wine (8 euros). There are, of course many other delectable items to choose from and the pizza is some of the best we've ever had. They offer a pizza marinara for 2 euros, pizza margherita for 3 euros and various specialty pizzas for 4-6 euros and they are larger than any other place we've eaten. If you want really good food at reasonable prices, this place is certainly worth a detour.We had opted for a transfer from the hotel to the airport arranged by a fellow cruiser but with time running out and no transportation in sight, we had the hotel car for a taxi and we arrived at the airport just in time to check in. The taxi was 45 euros and our driver was courteous and actually a safe driver!We flew Swiss with one transfer in Zurich and I must say we were very pleased with their aircraft, service, food and amenities. They fed us well and often, drinks (wine or mixed drinks) and movies were free and the service was attentive and friendly. We will certainly fly with them again.In closing, let me say that we had a delightful cruise with RCCL and the entire pre-cruise, cruise, and post-cruise experience went very well. We are now looking forward to our fall transatlantic on the Mariner and subsequent B2B to the Western Caribbean. Bon Voyage to all! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
WE'RE GOING ACROSS THE OCEAN IN A BIG, BIG BOAT Dad once asked me why I loved to travel so much. My answer was "there is so much world to see and so little time to see it". If I could describe the adventure that ... Read More
WE'RE GOING ACROSS THE OCEAN IN A BIG, BIG BOAT Dad once asked me why I loved to travel so much. My answer was "there is so much world to see and so little time to see it". If I could describe the adventure that Dianne Fossen and I experienced the past 20 plus days in a few words - it would be TOTAL SENSORY OVERLOAD! MUSIC The music on the ship was live - not canned - and good, from acoustic guitar, to Latin, opera, broadway, etc. What a joy. We took a tango lesson - and danced the merenge almost every night at Boleros! Ole! PEOPLE We met people from all over the world - and they all loved to travel. Our dinner companions were a couple from Virginia (Bill and Lynne), a couple from Canada (David and Bonnie) and a lady our age traveling alone - who lived in Washington DC (Helen). The captain said ours was the liveliest table. Our waiter was wonderful as he talked of family and home. David told jokes and Dianne F even got him to tell some Ole and Lena jokes. Our days and nights were filled with warmth and laughter... There are others we met and saw on the ship that stand out in my mind - like the elderly couple I saw at dawn, holding hands and walking quietly together...or the young man traveling alone in a wheelchair who did not let his handicap stop him from living... I sat and talked with him many times - he full of warmth and smiles. Or the young girl traveling by herself who had pink hair, pink nails, pink purse and pink shoes and clothes - I nicknamed her Pinkie of course and we would meet and talk almost every day on deck. OUR HOME AWAY FROM HOME Our ship was the Navigator of the Seas and after talking with many people - it seemed to be a favorite - because of the overall warmth of the staff and travelers. This ship offered lectures every day on various subjects - we went to one on the Straits of Gibraltar - and it was wonderful. They had an ice skating rink as well - which I tried - for five minutes! Unfortunately the skates were hockey skates and my ankles started screaming! The crossing from Fort Lauderdale to Tenerife, just off the west coast of northern Africa - was good. We did have a little rain and wind (35 mph) with approximately 15-20 ft seas - but it wasn't anything the Navigator could not handle. She was a big, big ship! It took us nine days to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Dianne F thought she might get bored - NOT!!!! There was so much to do and see every day, we couldn't do/see it all. Most nights we went to the stateroom early, tired but happy, intending to go to bed - but inevitably, we would stay up talking until midnight! Dianne went dancing one night with friends she had met, at a club called "The Dungeon" - and didn't come "home" till 1:00 in the morning! You go girl! PORTS OF CALL In Tenerife, our first port of call - we went to the top of Mount Teide - which is volcanic. The view was breathtaking and humbling. What a magnificent place. In Majorca we noodled through cobblestoned alleyways, up and down ancient staircases, got prints from a local artist for 4 euros (cheap), talked to Milo and Mom in the quiet beauty of an old Majorcan church.... In Ajaccio - we jumped on a tram that took us all over this small French island, along the beautiful coast and back again. We walked the streets that Napoleon walked as a boy - and while looking for an open bathroom found three wise old French women who pointed and said "NO TOILETTE - LE BUSH"!!!! Viva le France! There was a farewell party on deck that last night before Rome... sadly we said goodbye to all of the friends we had made and the wonderful staff who took such good care of us. Most, like us, were staying in Rome for awhile - or traveling to other exotic places. We were ready for the next chapter!! ROME We landed in Civitavecchia - which is the port to which all cruise ships must come. From there you can get to Rome a few different ways. You can take the boat excursion which would cost $91.00 per person, rent a cab at equal cost or take the train or bus for approx. 4 euros. We took the train! Picture us trundling our large suitcases over cobblestone streets to the train station. Then picture us slowly banging these suitcases up and down stairs trying to get to the right train before it left! Thankfully, some locals realized that if they were going to make their train on time they would have to pick up the back of our suitcases and push us up and down the stairs - which they did! And voilla! We made it! We got off where we were supposed to - the San Pietro station near the Vatican and took a cab to our B & B - ROMA VATICANA. (the weather in Rome was supposed to be a cool 65 degrees. NOT!! It was in the mid-80's and hotter than heck)! Our B & B was spartan and cheap - but the location was great. We spent first afternoon at St. Peter's Basilica - with our mouths wide open, looking at all of the beautiful art. We got to see the Beatification of Pope John Paul Exhibit there, which was wonderful. It rained a little but we did not care. We were in Rome. What did we do in Rome?? Everything. We got a Metro card which let us use the trains, subways, busses and trams - the whole while we were there. We visited every Piazza, Da Vinci Museum, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum, we got lost in the Borghese Gardens and best of all - we got to hear the arias sung from some of the major operas - at the Anglican Church near the Opera House. Amazing! -2- Dianne had young friends there in Rome that Milo and her met and spent time with while having an adventure on the Transiberian Railroad - and we managed to meet them in Trestevere on two occasions. The first time the four of us had dinner together in a wonderful restaurant near the Ponte Sisto and the second time they brought their two children with. Francesco and Julia - tre' bella!!! We spent five days and four nights in Rome and once again, the people we met along the way will stick in our memories... the ones who helped us navigate the trains, busses, streets and sites of this glorious city. My heart was full - but sad at leaving this ancient city. As I packed the last few things in my suitcase I heard the soft, plaintive sounds of a violin being played and went from room to room trying to find where it was coming from. I opened the bathroom window and the music soared up from the old airshaft below - music that mirrored my feelings so totally. I imagined a violinist from Rome's orchestra living in one of the little pensiones there, practicing for the evening's performance. Ah - the beauty of it all.... GOING BACK HOME Each of us planned very well - and I can honestly say that we both really only had one brain fart apiece! Dianne F was so busy looking up at the beautiful buildings that she fell off a curb - but thankfully, only skinned her knee. I lost our return tickets but luckily found them tucked in my journal! The flight to Dusseldorf, Germany was fine - the good night sleep we had at our hotel was even better (some people had to sleep at the airport). Air Berlin was great with good food, good service. Miami was hot and sticky (almost 90 degrees) and it took awhile for Leon to find us - but we made it home. We had our last dinner on Fort Lauderdale beach at one of my favorite restaurants named H20 - where an aging male model regaled us with stories of a modeling shoot he was on in Russia where he endured the sounds of a cross-eyed soprano opera singer in Moscow!!! It seemed the perfect way to end this wonderful adventure. My thanks to Dianne for sharing this incredible adventure with me - ciao for now dear family and friends, Wildbird Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
This was a bargain opportunity trip, that was booked with no prior preference for doing another TranAtlantic. Saw the deal- booked it. :) This was cruise #72, and 4th TranAtlantic. This itinerery is not my preference, but my husband ... Read More
This was a bargain opportunity trip, that was booked with no prior preference for doing another TranAtlantic. Saw the deal- booked it. :) This was cruise #72, and 4th TranAtlantic. This itinerery is not my preference, but my husband prefers it. We spent 4 days prior in Rome, which is always a wonderful touring city. We took a CC arranged bus transfer, since my husband has some mobility issues which worked out excellent. In the past I have taken the cheap train. Embarkment was with a short wait and very organized. I had a large on board credit- that I was able to use, by getting the "My Time" dining on the ship. IF you want this at booking, you have to prepay the tips. This feature is not as well run as other lines. We were "tracked" into a time, at the same table for the most part. It certainly is not "freestyle. They keep you with the same wait staff, and hence the continued policy of individual tipping. It doesn't work well, in my opinion. But, food was good and survice was excellent, despite the appearance of being short staffed and looking overworked, which is another issue, I was conflicted about. I went to only a few shows, which were all good. We are Diamond, and with this status pretty ordinary- it was always over crowded at the events. In my opinion, it should be only open to those members and not extra "guests" that is sometimes complained about. The booking agent, included a very nice cocktail party and dinner for two, which we used in Chops. The wasted food, due to the too large portions, should be addressed perhaps? The ports were good and I toured independently in each. Livorno, I had a rental car, which I did require dock assistance getting back to the ship. :) The port area is NOT well marked. In Toulon, I went with a CC organized tour, which was excellent. In Barcelona- taking the city bus was superior to the ship bus. It dropped off right at the Christopher Columbus statue for half the price. :) The Hop on Hop off bus gives a great overview, which I've done before. I have never made the Azores due to weather/route cancellations. I have two more TranAtlantics booked next year- maybe. :) The 8 sea days, had me pretty bored, but the cruise overall certainly was very enjoyable anyway. The value of this sailing was excellent, but I would not have considered it, if it had not been. Disembarkment also went very smoothly. I had no problem getting a cab and making my 11:15am flight. 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: November 2011
Remember the end of the 1985 movie Cocoon when all the rejuvenated elderly folks went with the aliens to their world where people never get ill, age or die? Well, they're back with a vengeance and I think I know where -â€" ... Read More
Remember the end of the 1985 movie Cocoon when all the rejuvenated elderly folks went with the aliens to their world where people never get ill, age or die? Well, they're back with a vengeance and I think I know where -â€" Royal Caribbean's cruise ship, The Navigator of the Seas. It all started with an innocuous email in my inbox way back in April -â€" an announcement that Royal Caribbean had made a sudden decision to reposition one of its ships (originally meant to winter in and around Dubai) from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean. This meant an entirely empty ship desperate for passengers with prices to match. Sitting there in my office, swamped with work, the prospect of quitting my job to travel the world looming large -â€" suddenly the idea of spending days on end doing nothing but staring at the big blue sea, without a care in the world while traversing the Atlantic, book in one hand, a shrimp cocktail in the other, was wildly intoxicating. And since I would already be in the general vicinity at the time of sailing, the rock bottom pricing was impossible to refuse. For those who have never cruised before, a cruise vacation is somewhat like having a floating hotel, ferrying you to various ports-of-call to enjoy during the day, while filling up your nights with gourmet meals and slightly cheesy entertainment. In some ways, the ship is even a destination in itself with shops, bars, casinos, specialty restaurants and in the case of the Navigator, a rock climbing wall and an ice rink. So it was that I found myself boarding the ship in Rome along with about 3,000 other cruisers, with stops in Livorno (Italy), Provence (France), Barcelona and the seaside town of Cartegena (Spain) and the archipelago islands of the Azores (Portugal). Days were spent taking excursions to Pisa (the tower was much prettier and whiter than I had imagined. Warning: Shameful confession ahead... This was one stop where I did the tourist thing I usually despise and took the requisite picture of me propping the tower up. Sad, I know, but how can you not, right?), Florence (a shopper's paradise with high end artisan shops specializing in the most beautiful leather and paper products), San Gimignano (a medieval walled Tuscan town famed for its soaring towers), Aix-en-Provence (birthplace of Paul Cezanne, home to a delightful farmer's market) and Marseille with its picturesque old harbor... The sailing reached an exciting climax early on when we found ourselves in the middle of a weather phenomenon known as a medicane, a Mediterranean hurricane, with sustained winds in excess of 90 mph, forcing the ship to stay in port for an extra day in France and foregoing the stop in Portugal. The ship rocked back and forth so much that passengers looked like people badly failing a drunk driving test trying to walk in a straight line... Something else I was apprehensive about was what to do on those 9 long days at sea. Turns out I shouldn't have worried as every day was a race from one activity to another, including highly competitive trivia three times a day ("What is the literary collective noun for a group of owls?") fighting tooth and nail for cheap Royal Caribbean promotional umbrellas and caps (if bought in the gift shop = useless junk. However, same items won in a trivia game? priceless heirlooms), crew vs. guest volleyball and line dancing by the pool deck. You haven't lived until you've seen 60 seniors doing the Electric Slide... Aaaaaaand grapevine! From my very unscientific data gathering, the typical transatlantic cruiser would seem to be comfortably retired, about 68 years old and possessing a propensity towards enormous buffets. It doesn't help that there's in essence a buffet 3 times a day, with options of ordering however much you want from a menu in the dining room ("Actually, I WILL have three appetizers, thank you for asking!") to a casual buffet restaurant with at least 50-60 meal options, from miso soup to roast turkey to pizza and burgers and everything in between. Free food + non-stop food = an average weight gain of 2lbs per day (lunch literally starts half an hour after breakfast finishes, meaning it was physically impossible to feel any type of hunger for two solid weeks). The first few days, I found myself running around wanting to try everything (and feeling faint afterwards. Fried hashbrowns AND sauteed potatoes for breakfast? I'm talking Sophie's Choice here). Sure, there are "healthy" options of salmon, grilled chicken breast, steamed vegetables, etc., but where's the fun in that? I was finally home! I had found... "my people". All kidding aside, I found myself bonding with really nice people over trivia (shout out to teammates Efren and Maria!), the odd Scrabble game in the card room overrun by old Chinese ladies playing Mahjong much to the chagrin of the Balderdash / cribbage players ("They really need to have a separate room for those noisy games!") and really long dinners. The dining room table dynamic on a cruise ship is a strange one. Put ten people from differing socio-economic classes together every night for at least an hour and a half for 14 dinners (if you're counting, that's 21 hours of conversation...) and mundane dialogue centering on past cruising experiences imperceptibly move on to deep dark family secrets, youthful indiscretions and embarrassing stories. Perhaps it's the thought that you'll never see these people ever again? Or the camaraderie that comes from being on the same vessel in the middle of the ocean? In any case, scintillating... Evenings were filled with shows ranging from the ship's own singers and dancers to specialty acts brought on at various ports to perform magic, hypnosis, comedy, acrobatics, Motown, piano playing and more. While cruise ship entertainment leans towards the cheesy (hence all the Simon Cowell references), I found the few shows I did go to mildly-to-rather entertaining. There were even ice skaters admirably performing jumps and spins in the small but very popular ice rink onboard. If you've ever exclaimed, "I wish there were more hours in a day!", then a transatlantic cruise is for you. To make up the time difference, an extra hour is added on select sea days, meaning you could go to that 11pm karaoke competition or poolside buffet under the stars and still get your beauty rest. Overall, the cruise was a great chance to decompress, do nothing & everything and travel in style back to North America. Oh, and by the way, a group of owls is a "parliament". Just send me a Royal Caribbean key chain when you end up winning the trivia... Travel tips: (1) I first heard of this deal through Travel Zoo, a great weekly e-newsletter that scours thousands of deals to produce a list of the Top 20 travel values of the week. While you may rarely be able to take advantage of the deals, it's worth signing up because you never know when something might come along. Besides, it's fun to see what kind of deals are out there. Before seeing the email, taking a cruise wasn't even on my radar. But I'm glad I did. I ended up paying a base fare of $499 (for a total of $890 including a single supplement and all taxes). I also got $100 shipboard credit which I applied towards the gratuities and a $60 dinner for two in one of the ship's specialty restaurants. All said and done, the cruise averaged just slightly over $60 / day for accommodation, all meals and entertainment onboard. I also used 20,000 fewer frequent flyer miles for my around-the-world ticket which made the deal too good to pass up. (2) I found Cruise Critic's roll call a really helpful resource. This particular group was forum-happy, creating a total of 3,400+ posts, of which only about 1 in 20 were relatively useful. The rest was evenly divided between non-cruise items such as the weather where they lived, relating makeups and breakups, medical conditions and past sailings with arranging cabin viewings, gift exchanges, slot pulls and trivia groups. However, it was great for finding people to fill a group for privately arranged tours. The tours I went on in Italy and France were both arranged by motivated people on the cruisecritic forum and turned out to be cheaper / better organized / more efficient than the ship's tours. (3) There were three specialty restaurants on board. Portofino ($20 surcharge), a great Italian restaurant, serving up a delicious giant shrimp risotto, succulent seafood skewer of scallops, shrimp, lobster with a raspberry tiramisu served with a shot glass of heavenly kahlua topped with cream. I also had Johnny Rockets (old-fashioned diner food, $4.95 surcharge which includes gratuities but not drinks) one afternoon, ostensibly for a snack. However, bottomless onion rings / fries, classic hamburger with all the fixings, and chicken tenders, turned out to be a lot of food! Don't forget to indulge in the chocolate sundae afterwards. (4) Getting to the cruise terminal in Civitavecchia was very easy to do on your own. Tickets can be bought on the day of travel at Termini via vending machine. My advice would be to pay the extra 2.50 euros and go with a first class ticket. Seats are plusher and there is room to keep your luggage with you, as opposed to fighting for a seat in 2nd class. Just note that Italian trains are notoriously late, so leave yourself plenty of time. When arriving in Civitavecchia, you'll need to schlep your luggage down and up one flight of stairs and walk about 7 minutes to the entrance of the port where a dedicated shuttle bus takes you the rest of the way to the ship. (5) Barcelona is eminently easy to do on your own. Forego the ship's $10 transfer and take the blue city bus all the way to La Rambla. The subway system is very easy to use, taking you to almost all the major stops at only 6.20 euro for the day. If you haven't been there, arrange to get to the Sagrada Familia in the afternoon when the around-the-block lines die down. You won't regret the relatively steep entrance fee to see this one of a kind building that's everything a cathedral isn't supposed to be. Did you enjoy this review? If so, check out my travel blog as I travel around the world, passing along helpful tips along the way. www.dreamtravelblog.wordpress.com Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
I'm just back last week from the Navigator TA. It was my first experience with RCL, and I got to say it made me eager for more even though there were several glitches - we booked another November TA for 2012. This was my second TA ... Read More
I'm just back last week from the Navigator TA. It was my first experience with RCL, and I got to say it made me eager for more even though there were several glitches - we booked another November TA for 2012. This was my second TA - previous with Celebrity. Prior to that I was worried about the long string of sea days and worried about boredom - believe me... boredom is not likely! I am so hooked on TAs now! I have always enjoyed Celebrity's food and considered that a reason worth sailing with CC. Comparing Celebrity to RCL food I'd say it was a toss - the food was equally good in quality and quantity. While we enjoyed CC's Aquaclass Blu restaurant, I don't think its worth the disadvantage of the less than perfect cabin locations. This trip was the first time we used a specialty restaurant and we loved Portofino. Our regular dining assignment was at a table for 10, and we had a terrific group. Each evening I actually looked forward to sitting down with the group to discuss the day's adventures. So much so that on the night we went to Portofinos we went back to "our table" to see our new friends. It helped to have the very best wait staff I've ever encountered. The evening meal was a highlight of each day. Our trip started a bit weird - we had chosen a middle of the ship cabin and had requested no upgrades because we wanted to keep mid ship because Danni gets a bit motion sick sometimes. We boarded without incident, other than during the 15 minute walk from our hotel to the ship the skies went from blue to gray and a cloudburst left us drenched. Civitavecchia was easy and seamless for boarding, So wet and still happy we boarded. We went to lunch, then after it was announced we could go to our cabins we went to our cabin to find other people there. The steward told us we had been upgraded from our selected interior 9th floor cabin to an ocean view on the 2nd deck forward...very forward. We were not pleased! Down to Customer service to appeal, and at first treated rudely for questioning our good luck in getting a free upgrade. After explaining we were told to come back after dinner. By then our clothes were drying out but still a bit uncomfortable as we did the usual selfguided tour of the ship, and then went to dinner. After dinner, back to the desk - no solution yet. We went to the theater, and then around 10pm came to a resolution of the room - ocean view 2nd deck, but at least between the elevators, closer to mid ship. They gave us vouchers for a specialty restaurant as compensation. Not great, but at least we finally had a room. Back at our room we told our tale to the room steward and asked him to help us find our luggage. He found them on the 9th floor and brought our damp suitcases...fortunately the contents were protected with plastic and our clothes were dry. Rough start to a great vacation, but all things considered we were very happy with the cruise. As it turned out while we were in Toulon, the worst storm in the last 10 years hit the Mediterranean. We were stuck in port overnight and lost a port day in the Azores, which also meant we would cross the Atlantic in an uninterrupted 8 days at sea. We also crossed the Atlantic on the edges of a storm that gave rough sea conditions. while usually 3 to 5 meters, the occasional wave was up to 10 meters. To tell the truth we ended up glad for the 2nd deck cabin - the lower the deck the more stable the ride. Despite that there were lots of activities - loved the many trivia contests, live music throughout the ship at different venues. We don't drink much but found we were welcome to sit and listen to music in any bar at any time, even without buying drinks...in all my previous cruises I was hesitant to sit in bars in the evening without making purchases. This time it was apparent it was not only acceptable, but we we were very welcome! As Elite with Celebrity I had Diamond status. I was very disappointed to find that even though we were sharing a cabin Danny could not join me for pre-dinner wine in the Dungeon...actually, she did join me the first 3 nights, but on the fourth night a different attendant check her card (not just mine) and she was denied access. Since my DH doesn't have Elite yet on Celebrity and he has been able to join me to Elite functions I never doubted that Danni would be able to share. Not so. Its no fun to sit in a venue and drink wine by yourself leaving your roomate behind, so I didn't go to any more Diamond functions. We did use the gym almost daily, and found equipment usually available within 10 minutes even during the busiest periods. Loved the gym. Thank God for it - it accounted for a 1.4 pound weight gain during the cruise, despite the fact I thoroughly enjoyed myself at every meal...my Weight Watchers leader was happy. On the roughest days the pools were closed, but other than that we were able to swim most days - I wasn't sure if that would be so for a November crossing, so this was another positive. Final verdict - not perfect, but we had a terrific time, and can't wait to go again. and look forward to many more RCl cruises. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Summary Our second cruise on RCI was even better than our first and the aggressive pricing works for us as well. Compared to Holland America, Princess and Celebrity, RCI has a much higher energy vibe and more activity. While not for ... Read More
Summary Our second cruise on RCI was even better than our first and the aggressive pricing works for us as well. Compared to Holland America, Princess and Celebrity, RCI has a much higher energy vibe and more activity. While not for everyone, we did enjoy the transat and time in Rome. Itinerary Back in April 2011, the Navigator of the Seas (NOTS) was shifted from year round service in Europe back to the Caribbean presumably due to business reasons. Since the routing change was sudden, this cruise was significantly discounted at first when we booked. The 14 day crossing left from the port of Civitavecchia for Rome on Nov 6th stopping at Livorno for Florence on Monday, Toulon, France on Tuesday, Barcelona and Cartagena, Spain on Wednesday and Thursday. There would be two days at sea, then Ponta Delgada, Portugal on Sunday the 13th followed by six sea days and ending at Fort Lauderdale on Sunday Nov 20th. Due to hurricane strength winds in Toulon Tuesday night, we were pinned in port till Wednesday morning. See this article on the storm http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/international/2011/11/15/224109.htm We sailed for Barcelona that morning arriving about 7P where we stayed till Thursday evening. We proceeded to Cartagena Friday, one day late. To make up lost time, Ponta Delgada was dropped and we sailed directly for Fort Lauderdale. Pre-Cruise We flew direct JFK to FCO (Rome Fiumicino) on Tuesday night Nov 1st on AA 236 leaving JFK at 8:50P arriving FCO 9:55A. We chose this flight as it arrives later so we would not have to wander around Rome for very long before checking in at 2P. We also had the (forlorn) hope of sleeping more since it left later. Food was usual roach coach fare, but at least they did not charge for it (did not provide an emergency procedures manual for the meal either). Taking a taxi from FCO to Rome anywhere within the Aurelian walls, center city) should cost 40 Euros, but since we only had 50s and the driver feigned having no change, he got a large tip. Do bring small bills to avoid this type of issue. We booked a room at the SuiteDream Hotel on Via Modena 5, just off of Plaza Repubblica about 800 meters west of Termini, Rome's main railroad station. If you book directly with the hotel instead of through a booking site, breakfast is included in the price and it features cold cereals, hard boiled eggs, fruit, cold cuts and pastries which is quite sufficient for a day of touring. For four days (Nov 2nd to 6th including breakfast and bottled water only in the room fridge, the price was a very reasonable 130 Euros per night including breakfast for two people. Taxes of 2 Euros pp were extra. The rooms came with individual a/c and free wifi and had comfortable beds. Being on a side street, the rooms were very quiet. Bathrooms had basic amenities and the room was spacious for a European hotel. We toured the usual tourist attractions in central Rome and St. Peter's square. We were unable to find the stop for the 115 bus that takes you to an overlook on the west side of the Tiber for a panoramic view of the city. Note that the Coliseum has high steps to the second level which is tiring. Also, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forums have uneven footing that requires sturdy shoes. The lines for entry to St Peter moved reasonably fast and you do have to clear through metal detectors. The efforts are well worthwhile. We also ventured up Arventine hill to the keyhole of Malta. Look this up; it is well worth the view. Food in Rome was pretty good though expensive; for the two of us, we averaged $50 for lunch and $80 for dinner with a glass of wine. I am sure we could have done it cheaper, but we enjoyed what we had. We had dinner at Hosteria Romana which was recommended by Zagats and Rick Steve's. We also had lunch at Roma Spartia popularized by Anthony Bourdain in his Rome tour. Yes, the Cacio e Peppe was good as was their ravioli. Weather was good for the first three days with rain Saturday night and Sunday, the day of departure. A Cruisecritic member chartered two buses for a group of us to go from Rome Termini with an intermediate pickup point directly to the terminal in Civitavecchia. At $24 each, it was a bargain for direct service to the ship. Since we had priority boarding, we were on board in about 15 minutes. Luggage arrived about 2P and we sailed at about 6P. While a sailaway meeting was scheduled that afternoon, we demurred due to rain and wind where we were to meet. Note to self, always plan an alternate indoor meeting point for sailaway meetings. The wind and rain were to dog us for three days. Ports For our first stop, Livorno, on Monday, we shared a private van tour of Florence and Pisa which cost about 75 Euro (approx 100 USD) each. While the price was comparable to a ship tour, we had a private van for seven people and we could determine where we wanted to spend more time. We stopped first at an overlook on the southwest side of the Arno River where we could see much of Florence including the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge with shops built on the sides. The driver took us on a tour of the city to orient us then dropped us off for a few hours. Since this was Monday, the museums were closed. Despite the rain which was heavy at times, we had a good time walking around the city which is compact. Then we went to Pisa and the tower which remains as an object lesson for foundation engineers worldwide. The rain was heavy by then and we returned to ship. At Toulon, we docked at La Seyne-sur-Mer across the bay from Toulon itself. Given the heavy rain, hurricane strength winds and our experience in the rain in Florence, we opted to stay on board. Those who did take tours away from the coast said that they had sunny conditions. With winds gusting to 90+ mph, the captain, Eric Stendal, said that the port was closed and we would stay overnight. Midmorning Wednesday, we did sail out for Barcelona arriving 7P and stayed overnight. We took the ship's tour to the monastery at Montserrat northwest of Barcelona up about 2,200 feet up the side of a sheer rock cliff. The monastery was undergoing renovation but the cathedral area was still quite impressive. We walked around a bit but did not have time to take the cog railroad to the very top of the mountain. You can get to Montserrat by road as we did, cog railroad or cable car. The last two connect to a regional rail line that goes to Barcelona. For $42 pp for four hours, I thought the tour was reasonable. That afternoon, we went back into town using RCI's overpriced shuttle service of $10 pp. We walked up Las Ramblas to Plaza de Catalunya stopping a few places to shop. By the time we got back to the ship, we were starting to feel the effects of a virus that had been going around the ship plus walking in the rain in Florence. Friday in Cartagena, we took a short walk downtown. Facing the town from the pier, there is a medieval fort on the top of a hill and to the right is the entry way into the fort. There is a fee to enter the fort. To the left of the fort is a pedestrian only street with shops and open air restaurants. There is also a seaside esplanade near the pier area. Cartagena was the site of a battle between the royalists and fascists during the Spanish Civil War which trashed part of the city. After Cartagena, we skipped Ponta Delgada and sailed directly for Fort Lauderdale. Since we would have topped off supplies on Sunday in Ponta Delgada, some fruits and dairy products began to disappear by day six. Salad greens held up well but lemons and lines showed up only at the bars (no surprise there). Weather for the crossing was OK with some rain and wind from time to time. We did run into Tropical Storm Sean late in the cruise with strong winds and spray which caused the outside decks to be locked and the pools drained and netted. Not having to go north to the Azores, Captain Stendal took us south to the Canaries after exiting the Med and then headed west to Florida. This provided warmer weather and there were some people using the pools and sun deck though the open areas were breezy. Unfortunately, it was too windy t try the rock climbing wall. The Ship The Navigator is the fourth of the five ship Voyager class and unlike the first two ships; the last three had glass balcony partitions instead of steel which made the balconies and cabins brighter and gave the ship an airier look. Like the other Voyager class ships, the signature design of the Navigator is the four story tall Royal Promenade that runs down the middle of the ship on deck 5 between the forward and aft Centrums. The Royal Promenade has "window" rooms that look out onto the promenade from both sides on the upper three levels and a mix of shops, bars and eating venues on the first level. The Centrums are another feature of RCI ships and these extended from deck 3 to deck 12 forward and to deck 14 aft. Most of the public spaces are on decks 3 to 5 and decks 11 to 14. The main dining room is aft on decks 3 to 5 with buffet options in the Windjammer Cafe aft on deck 11. The bars are on decks 3 to 5 and 11 to 14. For more information on the Voyager class of ships, go to this URL http://voyager-class.com/. At the aft end of the Royal Promenade are the library on deck 7, the internet cafe on deck 8 and the Concierge Club for Suite pax on deck 9. Mary who is a retired librarian noted some deficiencies in the library operation that may be due to cost cutting. For one, there is never anyone from the cruise staff there to check material in or out. Also, not much effort was made to properly shelve books; books that should have been in the collection were misfiled on the paperback exchange shelf. Another cost cutting casualty is the daily news briefs that we received on every other ship we've taken. These news briefs are an eight page 8 ½ x 11 brief that offered bits of the world outside the ship. It might have been a feed from the New York Times, the Times of London or the Toronto Globe and Mail. Whatever it was, it was welcome. We didn't have this on the Navigator. The only news channel we found on the in-cabin TV was Fox News. CNN or BBC was not available. Movie selections were Ok with recent runs such as Knight and Day and REDs (Retired, Extremely Dangerous??). Good entertainment on a rainy day. Stateroom With the very favorable pricing, we booked a Grand Suite, 1564, forward portside. At about 390 ft2 with a 90 ft2 balcony, the room is double the width of a standard balcony stateroom. As one enters our cabin, to the right ix a dressing area with three closets and a waist high granite topped dresser with six large drawers and a built-in mini-fridge. The closets are to the right against the hallway wall and the dresser is on the left of this area which divides the dressing area from the living room area. There is also a bar setup area with glasses and an ice bucket. Pity, they do not let you bring liquor on board. Also here is a full length mirror. To the left of the entry is a large bathroom with a tub shower, a two sinks and a shelf for towels. The sink vanity has drawers down the middle and hidden trashcans under each sink. The mirror above the sink has storage behind it for your toiletries. Amenities included bath soap, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and body lube. There is a razor point with both 110V and 220V outlets. The razor point is powered only when the bathroom light is on. Beyond the bathroom door is a small two drawer table and mirror along with various switches and sliders for controlling the lights. The living area beyond the dresser has a large sofa, two club chairs and a coffee table. The sofa is flanked by two end tables with lamps. Behind the bathroom is a sleeping alcove for a king sized bed and a vanity desk area with six more dresser drawers and a mirror area above the vanity with two hidden storage areas behind the side mirrors. The coffee/tea service setup is on the desk and there are 110V and 220V outlets just below the mirror. The balcony siding door is on the living area side with a light switch for the balcony light to the right of the door. The LCD TV and DVD player are in a low console between the window on the alcove side and the sliding door to the balcony. Our stateroom attendant, Anca Butic (sp?) did an excellent job of tending the cabin. Booking a full suite (Grand, Royal Family, Owner and Royal) gives access to the concierge lounge on deck 9 which has morning continental breakfast and a cappuccino/espresso machine (when it works) and cookies in the afternoon. Access to the lounge is by the room card. The concierge has regular morning hours. From 5P to 8:30P, there is a nightly cocktail party in the forward lounge on deck 5 (Ixtapa on the NOTS) that is limited to suite pax (also Diamond plus and Pinnacle club members). In addition to complimentary drinks, wine and beer, there are hot and cold appetizers available. Needless to say, our bar bill was de minimus for this cruise. The concierge can be found here during the party. In addition to the concierge lounge and nightly cocktail party, suite pax have access to reserved seating in the main theatre and Studio B for Ice shows as well as a separate seating area on the pool deck. In addition to the regular ice show, there was a special show for suite and diamond plus pax with complimentary cocktails and appetizers. Dining We had first seating (6P) in the Swan Lake dining room (deck 5) at a table for six. The food in the MDR was the equal of what we have had on Princess and HAL last summer and fall. The meat quality was very good as was the seafood; I normally shy away from seafood on ships but at Jacob's urging, I tried several fish and shrimp dishes and they were better than I expected with none of the fishy/bitter aroma and taste that sometimes accompanies ship board seafood. Service was good although the kitchen was slow in providing the dishes in some cases and the food, while not piping hot, was certainly at an acceptable temperature when served. As Diamond members, we also had access to the D/D+ breakfast area which was very good, but we drifted back to the Windjammer for its greater variety. Lunches in the MDR were also very good with a spec your own salad bar and 30 minute hot entree service (usually faster unless they got slammed by a large inrush of pax at lunch). The Windjammer Cafe offers a large variety of foods at breakfast and lunch and we often found ourselves eating there rather than the MDR. The first part is the Jade Restaurant which is divided into two sections which are opened at staggered intervals as needed. The hot table section offers Asian entrees such as congee and miso soups, various curries and Chinese dishes and sushi that change daily. Further back is the Windjammer Cafe which offers spec your own omelets at breakfast and spec your own sandwiches at lunch. The breakfast offerings were the same day to day as was many of the lunch entrees. Seating in the Windjammer Cafe area is more available than in the Jade. The table servers come around to offer beverages (both free and extra tariff) and clear away used plates quickly. The self serve soft ice cream machines are at the dividing partitions between the Jade and Windjammer dining areas. Suite pax may use the Portofino Restaurant area for breakfast and lunch. Made to order omelets are available at breakfast along with fruit and pastry items. Nothing special is available at lunch in the Portofino, but it is nice to have a quiet area with white tablecloth service. Cold and hot drinks are provided at the table. There is no outdoor grill for burgers and such; the burgers at the Windjammer looked dry and overcooked. Although there is snack service from 3:30 to 5 P each afternoon, the offerings were the same every day. Yet another food venue is the Cafe Promenade in the Royal Promenade on deck 5. This is a 24 hour eatery which offers continental breakfast in the morning and light sandwiches, pizza and snacks the rest of the time. If you get it fresh, the pizzas were good, otherwise they were dried out. Seattle's Best coffee, regular and decaf, along with hot water for hot cocoa and various teas and iced water is available at all times. Extra tariff items include specialty coffees and Ben and Jerry Ice Cream. We did not try Portofino's, the extra tariff Italian restaurant nor Johnny Rockets, the 50s diner but we heard positive reviews from other pax about them. When the concierge lounge cap/exp machine was not working (the last few days of the crossing), showing the suite room card will get free specialty coffee service at the Cafe Promenade coffee bar. Entertainment We did see some of the shows, but they are the usual cruise ship fare. The Metropolis Theatre is nicely decorated but can fill up quickly unless you get there early. We did not use the suite pax sitting area as we rarely stayed the full time for the shows. The ice shows in Studio B were good but since the skaters were trying out new routines during the crossing, only a few shows were put on. 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 2012
I am a Platinum member of RCCL's Crown and Anchor Society, and this was our second Transatlantic. In the past we were quite satisfied with the hospitality given to passenger on the Royal Caribbean ships we have sailed on. This trip ... Read More
I am a Platinum member of RCCL's Crown and Anchor Society, and this was our second Transatlantic. In the past we were quite satisfied with the hospitality given to passenger on the Royal Caribbean ships we have sailed on. This trip left a lot to be desired. I read the review that another passenger left on our cruise, and I find he was quite accurate. He spent a lot of time on the food, and I concur. The food was mediocre, at best, and I was really surprised, when it was announced two days out, that the ship had run out of raw eggs. This was the day after we were in Nassau. I would think, they should have restocked when they were in port. Not only were Eggs sold out, but they ran out of bananas and Berries on day 10. The other reviewer mentioned a shrimp soup. I also was surprised by this when I ordered it, and saw the lack of shrimp. We had a surf and turf night, and a lobster night. The Surf part of Surf and turf was 1/2 of a small lobster tail. It also was served in shell, and was hard to retrieve the meat, which was overcooked. The cooks could also learn something about seasoning. There were a number of passengers from Louisiana on board, since the ship was slated to terminate in New Orleans. Several times on the lunch menu Jambalaya was featured. I was sitting in the restaurant with a couple from New Orleans. I told them not to expect much, and that's what they got. No heat at all! One of the problems we encountered was the state of the room. To be frank, it was dirty, and showed signs of extreme wear. This ship needs a renovation badly. the room was a little larger than many of the balcony staterooms, and on the hump, which is about the best you can get, and not have a suite. so I was disappointed when we saw cigarette burns on the carpet, and had lumpy mattresses. Shortly after boarding, we sent out some our clothes for cleaning. The clothes were delivered the next day. About halfway through they offered a special deal. Laundry was done for $25 all you can get. Unfortunately it took two days instead of one. To top that off, they lost our laundry. Our cabin steward had to bring three bags of unmarked laundry, and helped us find it. Which brings me to entertainment. Many of our table mates had sailed on the Navigator before. They commented on the shows which were pedestrian at best. In some cases they had seen the same shows two or three times. the cruise director made the point in one of his pre show comments, that he had been in the same show in 2003. Ten years is a long time to have the same show. Now I know why the shows seemed dated. I also have criticism with the activities, or lack thereof. The Art auctions no longer are with Park West. RCCL now runs the auction themselves, and they are not as varied than the Park West auctions. It also seemed that there were less poolside activities, then we've seen in the past. One standout was Vito, who ran the Bingo games. He is also a marine biologist, and also had a series of enrichment programs which were educational and well attended. Finally kudos to the wait staff, and cabin stewards, who worked hard and were very professional. I was impressed. 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
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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