1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2013
I sailed with my wife and my 4 year old daughter. Boarding the ship took about one and one-half hours. I had arranged for our stateroom to be decorated for my daughters birthday and our anniversary. We arrived at our stateroom to find ... Read More
I sailed with my wife and my 4 year old daughter. Boarding the ship took about one and one-half hours. I had arranged for our stateroom to be decorated for my daughters birthday and our anniversary. We arrived at our stateroom to find it beatifully decorated with a not for my wife and daughter from me. A great way to start the trip. I have been disappointed in the past by other cruise lines. Our cabin steward, Golda was outstanding. During our trip she made a different towel animal every night for my daughter, she was very easy to work with, if we were not out of our cabin by the time she finished working she offered to come back when we were ready. Our room was always immaculate, a very difficult task considering we have a 4 year old. We ate at Portfino the first night, the food and the service were outstanding. We said we would go back another night. The crew on the ship is extremely friendly, not once in 15 days did I pass a crew member and not get at least a greeting. We saw several shows while onboard, the juggler was funny and included my daughter in the show, so that was one of my favorites. But, the ice skating show is not to be missed. The other shows we saw were good, nothing great. The food outside of the pay restaurants was also very good. The main dining room always had something very good on the menu. The night they served lobster I was very skeptical to even try it, because I am from Maine and I am almost always disappointed with cruise ship lobster. Our waiter convinced me and I am glad he did, it was very good. My only complaint would be at the buffet for breakfast, it did not have the variety that I have had on other ships. Our waiters in the main dining room were exceptional. Fahmi and Christian could not have been better. They were always right there to meet any need you had. They were also very fiendly. If I took another cruise on this ship I would want them back to be my waiters. The head waiter Leslie, was also excellent. He always took the time to stop and say hi, on several nights he made my daughter napkin animals. He also brought her plates of beef carpaccio that he found out she liked. We took shore excursions in Ponta Delgada, Toulon and Livorno. The excursion in Ponta Delgada was good, but it was not a very nice day. The tour guide was knowledgable and friendly. I could have lived without the Pineapple plantation. If I had to do it over again, I Probably would have done a different tour. In Toulon we went to Aix. I really just took this tour for the ride to Aix, I did not have any interest in following the tour once in Aix. I guess this somehow offended our tour guide, he was a complete jerk to me and my wife. We still had fun in Aix and I complained about him once back on the ship. The tour in Livorno was very good. We went to Pisa and Florence on our own, Lisa our guide was very knowledgble about the areas and gave us some great tips for getting around and what to do. On the sea days there was always plenty to do, miniture golf, rock climbing, trivia, bingo, ice skating, or just hanging out at the pool. The first few day of the trip we did not put our daughter into the kids club, because I enjoy spending time with her. But, I started to feel guilty and selfish, as I had heard other kids were having a great time. We finally decided to let her go and she didn't ever want to leave. The staff was very friendly and always had something fun planned for the kids to do. She also met many new friends in the kids club, I was happy we decided to send her. I think the ship is due to be refurbished soon, which is fine as long as they keep the Captain and crew. Overall the crew was outstanding! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
So all in all a good cruise with all the typical good service from RCCL. Quick notes are that they really have very limited support for kids under 3 on most of the boats below the Oasis class. We were limited to $20/hour child care in ... Read More
So all in all a good cruise with all the typical good service from RCCL. Quick notes are that they really have very limited support for kids under 3 on most of the boats below the Oasis class. We were limited to $20/hour child care in our state room and 2-3 1 hour periods with a kid's staff member in the tot room. The also had bags of lender toys which was good but our tot got board with them and the hour play periods after about a week. To be fair there were no other kids under 2 for her to play with and the staff were very friendly but we were spoiled by our 7 day experience on Oasis when they not only had child care for $9/hr in a designated Royal baby's room but a 24 hour play room as well. Taking care out our tot in our room prevented us from enjoying our room childless. It was good we got a Grand suite or out tot would have had no place to run at all! The Weather in April was only warm enough to swim 1 or 2 days so that wasn't available for our tot either. Nor was there a pool with more than and inch of water for tots. So we spent a lot of time in our room or going with out tot back and forth to the few areas that were interesting to her. This was relaxing but it didnt allow much time for many of the other activities on the ship. We are fairly experience cruisers so we didn't feel we missed too much but it would have been nice to get out a bit more. The word from the crew is that the ship is due for dry dock which will address its getting older plan, During they dry dock they are supposed to update the child area. Recommendations: 1. Until updated you can get better service for kids under 6 on other boats and kids below 3 should avoid this ship. 2. Transatlantic cruises are populated by the traditional older set. Go if you enjoy just chilling out and meeting other seasoned travelers. 3. Get a bigger cabin on the long trips. It may sound obvious but the importance will hit you quickly especially if you have a kid in the room with you. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2013
Review of Navigator of the Seas, Transatlantic voyage April 6 through 21. 15 days, with stops in the Azores, Toulon, and Livorno on the way to Rome. Embarkation: The cruise port in New Orleans is very close to downtown and the ... Read More
Review of Navigator of the Seas, Transatlantic voyage April 6 through 21. 15 days, with stops in the Azores, Toulon, and Livorno on the way to Rome. Embarkation: The cruise port in New Orleans is very close to downtown and the French Quarter. Access is very narrow, but we arrived early enough that there were no crowds. Our baggage was collected immediately. The baggage handler asked for a tip (which I was prepared to pay) before he actually handled all of the bags. (I tipped $5, for which he took the bags from the taxi and put them in a nearby cage to be rolled onto the ship.) Check-in was relatively quick. We waited a short time in line, entertained by a couple complaining that Florence and Rome had not been located near enough to the ports. I observed that it was very inconsiderate of Romulus and Remus, but that went way over their heads. The actual check in process with the staff was as fast as I have ever seen. There were airline-like security checks. We had purchased two bottles of wine, but security did not care. We could have brought two bottles in each bag. Security did check one of our bags quickly because my laptop charger and some other electronics were in there. That was about 15 seconds. I also had an extension cord and a Belkin cube tap so I could have extra outlets for charging. There has been some commentary about cruise ship restrictions on these things, but security here did not care. We boarded the ship in short order. Having arrived just after 11, the cabins were not yet ready, so we toured the shop a bit, found a table in the pool area, and had lunch from the Windjammer. Cabin At 1, the cabins were ready and we went to see our cabin and drop our carry-on bags. We had a junior suite, no. 1394. This is an aft cabin, so it has a slightly different configuration from standard junior suites, and it has a very large balcony. The room itself was very nice and spacious. Our suitcases went under the beds, which had been pushed together per our request. The bath, with its tub, was also very nice. The cabin has a walk in closet, but one difference between this and others we have had is that the closet is long and narrow, and while there is a clothes hanger running much of the length of the closet, towards the aft end the closet is narrower than the hangers. Nevertheless, with clothes for a 3+ week trip, we had plenty of storage space. The room has a stocked refrigerator, which we emptied and used for our wine, etc. There are few outlets, but with my Belkin cube tap and with a universal adapter for the European outlet, I had enough power outlets for a laptop, camera battery chargers, Kindle chargers, etc. Given the proliferation of devices which need charging, The Belkin cube tap (which includes a surge protector) is a necessity. The balcony is large and had two loungers, two chairs and a table. It has somewhat of an obstructed view because of the ship superstructure in the back. It is fully covered by the Windjammer. On the Navigator, the Windjammer is enclosed, so our dreams of dropping food from the Windjammer to waiting arms below were dashed. Because the balcony is enclosed, it had no wind whatsoever. On the other hand, if you want to sun yourself (not generally our thing), on an Eastbound TA the balcony is in the shade until late in the afternoon. We did not find the walk to and from the cabin difficult. We tend to walk everywhere and use the steps as much as possible. Our cabin steward was Reynaldo. The cabin was always clean and bed made promptly. We requested ice and we had a fresh ice bucket twice a day. The cabin comes with towels for two, but with trips to the gym and pools, we needed more, and after one request, the towel rack was always stuffed with towels. We had robes. Towel animals appeared from time to time. Baggage Delivery Despite having checked in early, our bags did not arrive quickly. We had been told that as suite guests our bags would be promptly delivered, but only two of our 3 checked bags arrived by 4 p.m., the nominal sail time. At that time we did the muster drill, and from the deck we could see my wife's bag still in a cage on the dock. Along with lots of other stuff. The ship sailed about an hour late, with the excuse that there was more to load than for its typical 1 week voyages. (Hadn't anyone figured this out?) My wife's suitcase arrived around 7 p.m.; others in our area were delivered after 9 p.m. Supervisors came around inquiring what was missing; they were suitably apologetic and kept offering the canned excuse that there was a lot to load given the 15 day voyage. Since the length of the voyage was a running excuse, let me note that the Navigator sailed with just over 2900 guests for its approximately 3800 beds. Transatlantic sailings don't attract children, and there were a lot of singles on the ship. Let's move on to the ship. Spa and Exercise Facilities There is an exercise area, indoor Jacuzzi and gender specific saunas and steam rooms. The indoor Jacuzzi was nice, and large to even swim short laps. Given that it was sometimes cool outdoors, this was a nice touch. However, on a couple of occasions it was not heated enough. The paint was peeling. (Navigator is going into dry dock for refurbishment.) The men's sauna and steam room were OK, although on one day neither was very hot as some system failed, they cooled off, and had to be started from scratch. The men's room has lockers, and to get keys you need to go upstairs to the spa check in. Some of the lockers are not for the height challenged (they are over 7 feet off the ground) and on multiple occasions after getting a key, you find that someone has put stuff into that locker without securing a key. (Just clothes.) More trips up and down the stairs, but exercise in any form is welcome. HOWEVER, the ladies steam room was closed. Broken. According to the spa staff, they expected to have it fixed in a day or two. It wasn't. Then the story was that it would be fixed in the Azores. It wasn't. We ran into several couples who were double platinum or whatever who had sailed the Navigator on its Caribbean route earlier in the year, who reported the steam room was out of commission then. When my wife asked the staff, saying it's never going to be fixed, they agreed, and said it would not be fixed until dry dock, but they had been told to say that a fix was imminent. The Navigator does not have a thermal suite, so there are no co-ed steam rooms and saunas. Outdoor Pools There were always adequate deck chairs. The weather was not hot, so there were not a lot of swimmers or sun seekers. The outdoor running track was adequate. Often one of the outdoor pools was closed for maintenance. Dining Let's move on to meals. Given our balcony, we had breakfast in the room most mornings. Service was generally good, with the meal arriving at or before the ordered time. We were able to order things not on the pre-printed menu (like lox to go with the bagels.) HOWEVER, when in port at Toulon, delivery was way late. For us and lots of people. On a morning when it makes a difference. I don't recall the precise times, but if we had asked for 7 to 7:30 delivery, it arrived at 7:45 a.m. After several calls. And incomplete although that was quickly remedied. (I had called to make sure they had our order; if they didn't, I would have simply gone to Windjammer.) A supervisor called us that evening to confirm that the problem had been resolved to our satisfaction (it had) but again offered the excuse that the kitchen was not prepared for as many people who ordered room service on a port day. Like that had never occurred before. And, on a ship traveling 900 light from capacity. We tended to eat lunch in the dining room, opting for the large table option. You meet interesting people that way. The dining room offers a salad bar where you pick what you want and the staff makes up the salad. Uniformly good. There are also a few buffet items; we tried a few and were not impressed. There is also a menu which changes somewhat daily. Those choices tended to be good. HOWEVER, the dining room opened at noon. If you arrived at noon, and promptly ordered, telling the waiter you had something planned at 1 or 1:30 (a class, exercise, walking group, etc.) it was impossible to get out before 1, and usually not before 1:15 p.m. Not the waiter's fault. The main courses are simply not ready. (Yes, I know, I should have gone to Windjammer if I'm time pressed.) Dinner was in the main dining room late seating. We had a table for six, which is good for conversation. Our table mates were diverse, which is something we enjoy on cruises. One couple was German and Austrian, living in Canada for many years. The other couple was Puerto Rican, living in South Carolina for many years. Both of the husbands were engineers. One of the great things about cruising is meeting people with entirely different life experiences and views. Our wait staff, Gezik and Neal, were great. My wife likes lemon with her water, and a plate of lemon slices arrived as we were seated every night. When she has Caesar salad, she prefers it without cheese, and that's how it came. We had a 12 bottle wine package. Whatever we selected was always in stock. Our leftover wine was stored or we took it with us. If we stored it Neal had it back for dinner the next day. We knew the wine selection in advance and it was good. The menu included about six regular items (salmon, strip steak) and about six rotating items. My wife likes salmon, but after three attempts gave up as the salmon had no taste. The way it is prepared is that after lunch it is seared on both sides to seal it, and stored in the kitchen until dinner, when it is baked. (No open flames in the kitchen.) It is not marinated in anything, ever. Sauces are sometimes offered, but they did not help. The salmon was not seasoned, either. Eventually, on a fifteen day cruise, the menu got repetitive and boring. That goes for appetizers, dinners and desserts. The kitchen did make us some souffle's on request, but, alas, our tablemates did not want a souffle every night. There was only one lobster night, and that was a lobster tail. That night was also prime rib night, so RCI got to offer two higher cost items on the same menu to reduce demand. (And if you don't think that's true, take the all-access tour like I did.) I prefer lobster tail to lobster, but, interestingly, the headwaiter thought that lobster tail was simply the tail of a Maine lobster. It's not, and after we had this discussion, he came back one night as we were leaving and said that the executive chef had confirmed that lobster tail was a separate species of crustacean. Maine Lobster was available, at an increased charge. Food service on the ship, like all cruise ships, is getting more restricted. What we like to do, for example, is to have a snack on our balcony at 5 or so, along with whatever wine was left over from the last night. However, the Windjammer is now only open specific hours, and closes about 4:45 p.m. And at that time, hors d' ouerves are not out. At 6 there will be sushi (unlabeled), meats, cheeses, etc. There is the Promenade Cafe, which is always open, but its food choice is limited. The ship also has a Johnny Rockets as an extra charge restaurant. We refrained, since the extra charge approximates what we pay at home for Johnny Rockets. Unlike some ships, this Johnny Rockets was not open for breakfast. It was largely empty, as I suspect its clientele are typically from the teenager crowd, lacking on this trip. We went to Portofino once, for a murder mystery dinner. The show was great, and the food and service were excellent. We did not try Chops. We wholeheartedly recommend the fun of the murder mystery dinner. Coffee service was always available. The ship serves Seattle's Best, which is fine with us. Starbucks is available for an extra charge at the Promenade Cafe. Frozen yogurt was available at three different stations whenever we wanted it: chocolate, vanilla, sometimes strawberry, and a combination. The ship also offers Ben & Jerry's for an extra charge. We refrained. Food was also served for lunch in the Promenade. The displays were enticing. Health We, along with a great many other passengers, developed coughs. One member of our meet-and-mingle group developed pneumonia. RCI personnel constantly urged us to use Purell, which is available everywhere. RCI personnel cleaned things like the banisters regularly. Cruise Critic and Meet and Mingle We followed the roll call on Cruise Critic (about 5000 posts) and joined meet and mingle. Did the cabin crawl, slot pull, murder mystery dinner together, book cluib, walking tour. Other activities were organized, We organized one tour with folks we met on meet and mingle. All-Access Tour I took the All-Access tour, with about 10 other people. Cost is $150, although my sense was that I was the only one who paid. Good tour, well worth it. Toured the bridge, with the officers there explaining things. Then a visit to the engine control room, where the engineer on duty gave a 45 minute talk on how to run the ship. That ran over, annoying the environmental guy. Then on to waffles in the crew's quarters. Off to the kitchen, where we saw food storage and learned about ordering stuff, and learned that the chef had a budget per person per day for food. We saw the pictures of every arrangement of food for the staff to use to make up plates, although not all of the arrangements were going to be used on the cruise. We saw salmon being seared and stored, rolls being baked, shrimp cocktail being assembled. Then off to backstage in the theater, and finally a stop for champagne. Activities There was plenty to do on the multiple sea days. There is entertainment in the evening, ranging from singers, comedians, the Dungeon dance club, the ice show and production shows. The ice show was very good; we understand that the second time it was offered, given that the ship was rolling a bit, the performers missed a few cues, but got rave reviews from the crowd for their spunk. We entertained ourselves at trivia in two different groups. What kept us attending was our two groups, otherwise we would have dropped out. The questions were prepared and had been used multiple times before (sometimes repeated during the cruise), but every day there were answers which were wrong. Not close calls. The Great San Francisco Earthquake did not occur in 1908 but in 1906. Golda Meir is not the only Israeli prime minister born in Russia; there were 7. The country closest to where the Titanic sank was not Halifax, which, last I checked, was not a country, nor is it Nova Scotia, which is not a country but a Province of Canada. The staff member running trivia took Canada, Nova Scotia and Halifax as correct answers. Internet I bought the 500 minute internet package. RCI tells you that you need to go to a hot spot. The Solarium hot spot did not work. The internet center on 8 was fine, although as usual for this type of service with high usage everyone's connection slowed. I had a problem once where the connection would not disconnect and kept billing; guest services remedied it promptly. I was able to get a connection in our aft cabin twice. Telephone I have an Apple iPhone 5 and my wife a Blackberry Bold. Service was good for the first few days. (We were just using the phones for e-mail.) Then mine stopped working and my wife's was slow. Guest Services called Verizon, which reported a world-wide problem with the ship system. That lasted about 3 days. (Not an RCI problem.) Pricing We booked a year in advance, paid retail (about $3,800), and got an aft cabin, our first aft cabin. RCI tells cruisers to book early for best selection and price. (We also got a $250 shareholder's credit.) Until our final payment was due, pricing did not change. As soon as final payment was made, RCI began offering a special, book a balcony or better and get a free liquor package, valued at $1650. (We can't and won't drink that much.) Our agent tried to get this deal for us but was unsuccessful, even though a few people on Cruise Critic reported that they had persuaded RCI to extend the deal to them. I wrote to RCI; no response. Once on the ship, we met a number of people who received the free liquor package even though they did not meet the terms of the offer, including one fellow who got a single for $470, had the single supplement waived, and got the free liquor package. He showed up at dinner every next nicely lubricated. Disembarkation We left early in the morning to catch a train to Rome. We purchased a transfer from RCI from port to the train station because we wanted to make an early train. Getting our bags was as easy as it could be. About 17 people purchased this early transfer. 16 showed up on time. So what do you do if you are RCI? You hold the bus for the last guy, 20 minutes, inconveniencing the folks seeking to make the earliest train to Rome. No manner of requesting that we leave for the 10 minute trip to the train station made a difference. (We were less concerned as we were meeting our daughter in Roma Termini and had more room in our schedule.) Dings I wrote to Adam Goldstein about the liquor package offer. I'm still waiting for a response. It's been 3 months. My wife filed a comment card about the non-working women's steam room (and other matters) very early in the cruise. She was promised a response in 24 hours from guest services. She's still waiting. My wife was publicly insulted by a member of the cruise director's staff we had not seen before or after. When we saw Keith, the cruise director, later that day, the incident had already been reported to him by others, strangers to us. While Keith said he was "spoken to," my wife has yet to receive an apology. What's Next Next year's trip is booked. That cruise is about $10,000. It's not on RCI. Will we go on RCI again? Maybe. Right itinerary, right price, we might consider it. Biggest downside for me was the reduction in ports. Our 2012 RCI TA had 6 stops; this one had 3. Second biggest downside is the Grand Bazaar approach to pricing. Third biggest downside is the rude treatment by one employee for which RCI doesn't think it should apologize. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
This was my first longer cruise, going from and to places I'd never been before, on a ship the size of which I had never been on before. My first sight of Navigator of the Seas..."holy cr**!" Big was understating it - it ... Read More
This was my first longer cruise, going from and to places I'd never been before, on a ship the size of which I had never been on before. My first sight of Navigator of the Seas..."holy cr**!" Big was understating it - it was HUGE!!! Travelling with mobility issues makes it harder these days, but not with this cruise! From the moment we entered the cruise terminal in New Orleans, the staff of Royal Caribbean couldn't have been more friendly and helpful. Wheelchair provision was great, accessibility was really good and there was no problem getting from the gangplank to my room. I had preorganized a rental scooter that was waiting for me and I had booked a disabled room for the first time. I was very impressed. Previous experience on cruises left me with cracked skulls and bruises from falling out of standard bathrooms into wardrobe doors, slipping out of the shower into mirrors and, most embarrassing of all, not being able to make it to the loo on time because of having to manoeuver up the step. Not on this cruise!!! The bathroom being on one level, no shower lip to trip over and being able to take my wheelchair in there...I was in paradise!!! For the first time, I was able to find something to do pretty much each day. Not being a drinker or a gambler, not being a sun worshipper and not being able to participate in more physical endeavours, it is sometimes a challenge...not on this cruise. There were the standard jewellery making classes and scrapbooking classes, but what made this more fun for ME were the extra craft classes provided by the amazing Connie and the always entertaining Crafty Dude (Tony, her helpful hubby). They gave me something to get up each morning for, something new to learn and taught me skills I can take home with me. Way to go, Connie!!! As someone who always declares "I have no great skill in anything", well, I can't say that anymore. RC laid on the music trivia, a different one each day. I found my niche, to the point I even gained a Trivia Posse and was actually in great demand to join other teams. I have never been one to win anything, yet I managed to complete the set of prizes at trivia!!! Yay me!!! Shout out to TT, Roberto and Alina from the Cruise Director's staff...they made everything even more fun, I wanted to take them home with me! Were there any disappointments? Well, yes. Dinner at 5.30pm was a bit rough, as I found that if I ate breakfast I didn't want lunch and if I had lunch I was not hungry at dinnertime. I did find, however, that I was at a table with six great tablemates! I even made a great friendship with two of them (we have plans to cruise again together!), something I have never done on any other cruise! The food? Not so great. Plenty of it, but with having food restrictions, it was sometimes just too hard to find something that could be modified for me (thank heavens for the windjammer!). I was very disappointed that there were no themed dinner nights...apparently discontinued. Well, Royal Caribbean, in this cruiser's opinion...BRING THEM BACK!!!! The night time shows were disappointing. Too many "guest artistes". I like the Broadway style shows and enjoyed the two they put on. The ice show was fun, especially as they kept falling over (ok, the ship was rocking!)...they had great skill and did a fantastic job for being on a moving boat. Cudos to the ice cast. I didn't book too many tours for port days, only in Livorno as I wanted to see the Leaning Tower (no, I didn't do it, I promise!). They tried their best, were very accommodating, but with the weather having closed in, I got to see the Tower so was happy with that. Being able to take my scooter off the boat in both Porta Delgado and Toulon, I was able to explore on my own which gave me not just a sense of independance but a feeling of satisfaction. All in all, the best cruise I have ever been on. It has made me want to try longer cruises and I am considering consecutive back to back cruises next year. This was one cruise I will NEVER regret taking... Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
The Navigator of the Seas is showing her age! Our cabin was missing the wood cap on the balcony railing and in the casino some of light strips were being held on with tie-wraps and tape. Carpet was worn and torn in several areas, the ... Read More
The Navigator of the Seas is showing her age! Our cabin was missing the wood cap on the balcony railing and in the casino some of light strips were being held on with tie-wraps and tape. Carpet was worn and torn in several areas, the TV's must have been the original ones installed when the ship was built 11 years ago. The bathroom walls had rust breaking through the paint. I wish that I could share some of my photos in this review. The embarkation process went very smoothly once we got to the port from the airport. We used RCL's transfer service and found ourselves having to wait for 45 minutes before they allowed us to board the bus. I will NEVER use this service again. Getting off the ship at our first stop in Jamaica was a nightmare. Once they gave the word that we could get off the ship it was at least 50 minutes before we reached the gangway....terrible crowd control BUT that was the only time! Other days it went much smoother. Debarkation back in New Orleans went very smoothly for us, we took a New Orleans City Tour and for our son and his family when left the ship during the self-assist time. Okay that's the bad stuff! But that really didn't prevent us from having a great cruise on RCL overall. We liked the room and the location. The buffet food was good (not great) and the meals in the dining room were very good. We enjoyed the activities and entertainment. Our grand kids (ages 9-14) enjoyed the activities provided for the kids. The best part of this cruise was the service. This was cruise #17 or #18 for us and I can honestly say that this was the best service that we have ever experienced. The waitstaff in the Nut Cracker was fantastic (Ivor and Kiara) and our cabin steward, Norma Cash, are real assets to RCL. I would recommend RCL to everyone, maybe a newer ship! We already have an eight-day cruise planned for November on Carnival but we will be back cruising on RCL soon. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
Don't get me wrong. It wasn't an absolute horror story cruise. But having tried other destinations with other cruiselines, this trip fell short for the dollar. My initial impression of RCI is that it's for the 18-30 ... Read More
Don't get me wrong. It wasn't an absolute horror story cruise. But having tried other destinations with other cruiselines, this trip fell short for the dollar. My initial impression of RCI is that it's for the 18-30 crowd. There were MANY highschool/college aged kids running around, as well as kids 6-16. Maybe not a family oriented at Carnival, but definitely not catering to the Celebrity cruiser. I have to say my favorite Cruise line to date has to be Princess. A big part of that has to do with the food and entertainment. With that being said... RCI Likes: -For the most part, staff was very friendly. Our stateroom attendant was exceptional. I also like the towel animals he folds and leaves on our bed. -Promenade area was BEAUTIFUL. -Live poker in the casino instead of utilizing those digital poker tables. -Initial boarding was quick and painless. They have that down to a science. -Beautiful art collection on display in hallways and stair cases. -Great gym facilities. RCI Dislikes: -Only a few swimming pools and hot tubs? Their competitors offer sometimes double the pools/tubs. -The live entertainment and movie screening room was a joke. -I was told balcony rooms had flat screen tv's? NOPE. -Carpets in hallways were super dated and old; reminded me of Vegas in the 80s. -The food was 1 step above cafeteria grade. Nothing seemed fresh. Being that this was my first cruise with RCI, I thought they observed other cruiseline's practice of picking up fresh/local foods from every port stop. NOT THE CASE. Everything tasted frozen fresh. -Soft drink package at $54. OUCH. And yes, automatic gratuities added. -When I'd go to the bars and ask for a soda with my prepaid card, the bartenders always gave me a dirty look because they're not making the additional sale, like he's doing me such a huge favor filling a cup up with ice n Coke. -Speaking of the sodas, they tasted horrible. I know these boats have purifiers on board, but they need to change the filters or something because the water they serve for teas, coffees, flavored water, etc, just tasted funky. And this water made the sodas out of the fountains taste funky too. -The cooking station staff in the buffet was hit or miss. One night, they will go out of their way to get you an ingredient you requested on your omelet that they didn't have sitting around. I asked for bananas in my crepe, and it wasn't at their station, though the fruit area was 8ft away, and the guy gave me an attitude that they don't offer it. That's what happens when gratuities are prepaid on these trips. -No 24 hour buffet? The buffet closes between meals, and relatively early (9pm) at night. So what happens if you have a hankering for desert at 10? SOL. Or go to their BS cafe for a limited selection of dried up cakes n cookies. -The excursions were a let down. Yes you can travel to the Mayan temples, no you cannot get within 10 feet of the temples. You can't get the coveted pic of you scaling the sides of the temple; probably something they should tell you before you book. I would have stayed in town and enjoyed the beach. Falmouth, OMG; imagine a slum, where a corporate entity (RCI) comes in, takes a beachhead, and drops a gated city block sized tourist trap full of their partner vendors (Diamonds Internationl, etc). Once you go outside that gated retail haven, you get mobbed by the locals. Not a very friendly town. I felt safer walking down the back alleys in Mexico at night than the main streets of Falmouth in broad daylight. I had a biggo angry local woman get in my face after I "no thank you'ed" her, screaming "I'm talking to you!" Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
This was the largest ship we ever sailed on & despite having sailed frequently, was our first on Royal Caribbean. We spent 3 days before we boarded the ship in New Orleans to put us in the vacation mood & it was wonderful. ... Read More
This was the largest ship we ever sailed on & despite having sailed frequently, was our first on Royal Caribbean. We spent 3 days before we boarded the ship in New Orleans to put us in the vacation mood & it was wonderful. The trip was booked by our travel agent & transfers back to the airport were prepaid. Royal Caribbean had no record of this! First off their website was difficult to navigate, certain tours could not be booked on line. We were looking to pre-book spa treatments & could only book the longer, more expensive 75 minute massages, and some spa offerings we did book were not available on the ship. While I can understand that not all services were available on all ships, one would think that those that were not available would be blocked from a particular ship. We actually had to re-book everything once we were on board. The check-in process was quick & efficient, & the staff were pleasant & knowledgeable. Most of our luggage was delivered to our cabin before dinner so we were able to change from our traveling clothes. The first night we ate at the specialty restaurant, Chops Grill. The cost of this was $30 extra per person. Dinner was a big disappointment. I ordered a petite filet, rare, & was given a t-bone steak. While the waiter offered to change it, I opted not to do this, but I didn't enjoy it. The 4 of us at our table each ordered 2 side dishes, that came with the meal. But none of us were served what we had ordered. The vegetables were served family style. again we mentioned that some things were missing but nothing was done to rectify the situation. Only one of our group was completely satisfied with the meal. The dining room experience was much better. Although the selection of food seemed to be limited, mostly everyone at our table found something appealing. The waitstaff were a pleasure to deal with & made this trip so much better. The buffet for breakfast & lunch was the highlight of the trip- they offered something for everyone & for every taste. Not a bad meal was had there. One thing kept us from truly enjoying our on board time was the fact that smoking was permitted in some of the inside common areas, & this was distasteful to those of us who did not smoke. There should have been a ventilation/filtration system in place to draw the smoke from the non-smoking areas. You had to hold your breath when walking through the Casino since the air was so bad. I am sure non-smokers stayed away. Smoking was allowed in some of the cabins & you could smell the smoke when walking through the corridors. The entertainment was top notch & fun, particularly the circus parade & the ice skating show. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
Embarkation in New Orleans was quick and easy. From drop off till boarding was about fifteen minutes. Be sure to arrive a day or two before your cruise to enjoy the many offerings of New Orleans. The music, food, and vibe are well worth ... Read More
Embarkation in New Orleans was quick and easy. From drop off till boarding was about fifteen minutes. Be sure to arrive a day or two before your cruise to enjoy the many offerings of New Orleans. The music, food, and vibe are well worth the extra time and money. This was our first cruise on the Navigator, so we were excited about exploring the ship. Each Voyager class ship is the same layout, but different in venue names and colors. We were also excited to see the stage shows and the ice show. The shows were very well done. The casino was actually in a Mardi Gras theme...very fitting! All in all, the appearance of the ship was very pleasing. The glitch came on the day we ported in Jamaica. We got off the ship to do some t-shirt shopping and just explore the new Falmouth terminal. After all the walking, we were hot and sweaty and looking forward to getting back on the ship, going to our room, and taking a shower. Didn't happen. We got back on the ship, got to our stateroom and found the door propped open and the smell of paint overwhelming us, and workers out on our balcony. I have no clue to the kind of paint they use, but it burns your nose and eyes. They had masks, we didn't. We were not asked if workers could come into our cabin while we were gone, nor were we informed this was going to happen. We were upset that anyone could have come into our cabin and taken anything they wanted because the workers had no clue who belonged there. On top of that, we were unable to shower and change clothes. When they finally left our cabin, we discovered that the fumes were impossible to ignore. We were so angry. After some heated discussion (us), RC gave us a nice on board credit and a new room of equal quality. After we packed, they sent some people up to move everything. It was refreshing for a cruise line to acknowledge their mistake and then fix it. Thank you. Yes, I will cruise RC again. I also tell others to cruise RC. The food was very nice on this ship. Room service was friendly and quick on the three occasions we used it. We really loved Portofino's. The Filet Mignon was perfect and the Risotto was yummy. Cruise staff and cruise director were really great. My favorite was Roberto from Mexico. He was so funny and full of personality. I usually don't like Karaoke, but he made it all worthwhile. Debarkation was smooth and fast. Even with our glitch, our cruise was a positive experience. I hope to sail RC again in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
I traveled with my husband and two kids (12 and 15) on the March 23, 2013 sailing. After reading most of the reviews, I wasn't sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised overall. We booked two junior suites - 9238 and 9234. ... Read More
I traveled with my husband and two kids (12 and 15) on the March 23, 2013 sailing. After reading most of the reviews, I wasn't sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised overall. We booked two junior suites - 9238 and 9234. With these two rooms, we had nearly 600 square feet and 150 square feet on the balconies. Originally, we had booked one balcony room, but a couple of weeks before the cruise the junior suites were reduced significantly (if you see a better room available at a better rate after you book, you can call and get it switched - I looked at rates and available rooms every week after I booked). We would have had a difficult week with just one bathroom, so it was well worth the additional cost. Embarkation - Because we had junior suites, we had our own security line and check-in line. We arrived at 10:45 and did not have a line anywhere. We were on the boat within minutes. This is one of the perks of a junior suite - many of the other suite perks are not for junior suites. Rooms: The junior suites are just large. One would have been fine for my family of four, but the junior suites left when I changed were only for two people because they did not have bunks. When I booked, I was told they were next door but did not connect. I questioned this because they said they connected on Royal Caribbean's site, but the map did not show that they did. I called customer service, and they checked with several sources and finally told me they were not connected. When we entered the first room, they did indeed have a connecting door. I felt much better being able to open the door because I was worried about having my kids in a completely separate room. Unfortunately, the dividers do not open on the balconies between rooms, though. The rooms were really clean - I still used sanitizer wipes on hard surfaces, and I did not have any worries about cleanliness all week. The junior suites have flat screen televisions (lower categories still have the big old television sets). Not that you are on a cruise to watch tv, but the flat screen television seemed to give the room a more up-to-date feel. Our rooms each had a queen bed, full-size couch, chair, ottoman, and a vanity. Plus, we had a large walk-in closet in each room. This was nice because it also doubled as another changing room when the bathroom was being used. My only complaint with the connecting rooms is that there is no lock on the door between rooms. Once they are unlocked by the room attendant, there is no way to lock them again unless you ask the room attendant. Balconies: We had plenty of room on each one - two chairs, a table, and a lounger. I was concerned because I had read many reviews that said the smoke smell was terrible on the balconies, and I can't stand the smell of smoke. I thought we would not be able to use it - I only got a smell of smoke once or twice and it did not linger. We were out on our balconies a lot. It might have helped that we were in the front of the ship on the 9th floor. Bathrooms: They were a little larger than a standard room. They have a full-size bathtub and shower combo. Everything in the bathroom was clean and updated. Food: Many of the reviews I read stated that the food was okay and nothing special. I would agree with this - we didn't eat anything that we will dream about after the cruise. We were satisfied and pleased but nothing was extraordinary (with that said, we were never hungry). We ate all dinners in the dining room, lunches in Windjammer and breakfasts were split between buffet and dining room. The Windjammer could get a little hectic during busy times, and it was difficult to find a table at times. We just started going at non-peak times. Dinner - The starters were some of the best things we had all week. Most nights we ordered a couple of them each - good corn poblano chowder, scallops, olive/eggplant tartare, appetizer salads. The main courses were okay - we didn't have anything that we hated or even disliked. My son ordered two fillets (14.95 each) from Chops. Both times, they were cooked medium rare instead of medium well. They both had to be sent back, and we were not charged for them. This didn't make me want to pay and surcharge and pay $30 each to eat at Chops when they couldn't cook the steaks correctly that were ordered in the main dining room. Also, it seems like there are not as many choices each night, but there are always certain items available each night (pasta, steak, chicken) if there isn't something on the nightly menu you like. Our waiter, Zaheer, did a great job. Our daughter is picky, so he remembered exactly what she wanted each night even though it is not on the dinner menu. She ordered a special salad each night, and after day one did not have to ask for certain items. Lunch - Again, it was okay in the buffet. The choices changed a little from day to day, but there were mostly the same items. Johnny Rockets - we ate there one day for lunch, and it was surprisingly good. There is a $4.95 charge for each person and includes sandwich and sides (they are unlimited - we were asked if we wanted a second burger). You do have to pay for the shakes and drinks if you don't have the unlimited soda. We sat in a booth outside and could watch the water. Breakfast - it was better in the dining room because we didn't have to be around the crowds. Many of the same items are available in the main dining room. There is a menu to order off of, and they have a small buffet set up with fruit, cereals, and some hot items. Ports - We almost did not make it into Grand Cayman because of the rough seas. We were one of a few ships who finally made it in - several left and had a day at sea. There was no problem getting a tender, but after we got on one we wondered if we really should have. The waves were very large and the boat was whipped around. Many of the excursions were cancelled because of the weather = we made the most of it, though. We did the Dunn's Falls and Bob Sled in Jamaica and had a great time. We did the Jungle Buggy and snorkel in Cozumel - also would recommend. Entertainment - this was the only area of real complaint. The shows were not good - I have been to better high school performances (actually all high school shows I have seen have been better). There were two comedians, and they were the best. We left early during the musical shows. I read many reviews that said the shows were not good, and they were all correct. The ice show was okay - many of the performers fell or dropped their partners during our performance. There was a "Broadway" type show one night - they put a lot of numbers together form different shows. If you weren't familiar with all of the shows, you had no idea what was going on. I would rather see one complete show so that I understood the songs. If you like good shows, do not expect much on the Navigator. Other items: The ship is really enormous and is in good shape. It was hard to get an elevator at peak times, but we learned to either walk or go down to go back up. We always got a lounger, and found that it was quiet and empty on the back deck. You can always find somewhere quiet it that is what you are looking for some days. We really enjoyed the sanitizer man in the buffet area. He has a different song and dance everyday - just ask to see it. We had the early seating - 5:30 PM for dinner. On port days, it was too early because we needed to shower and change for dinner quickly. Also, we had a table right by the Captain's table, and no one ever used that table during our service. It would be nice if the Captain ate at the early seating for one formal night instead of eating late all nights. I love diet coke, so I bought the soda package for my entire family. It only includes Sprite, Coke, and Diet Coke. I like fountain sodas, and most of the bars used two liters. There are two machines in the Windjammer. You just show the juice people your card, and they give you cups with ice to get your own soda. I had to search out places to get fountain drinks - when the buffet was closed it wasn't easy. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
Drove to New Orleans from Birmingham for a seven-day cruise with six friends from around the country. All of us enjoyed it. A few notes: Embarkation: Very easy; we arrived Saturday at about noon and walked right onto the ship. By 1 ... Read More
Drove to New Orleans from Birmingham for a seven-day cruise with six friends from around the country. All of us enjoyed it. A few notes: Embarkation: Very easy; we arrived Saturday at about noon and walked right onto the ship. By 1 p.m., all the staterooms were available for occupancy. The rooms: The cabin was great, particularly because this time I was sailing alone. Plenty of room for two, though, and the storage (in the closet mainly) is more than I remember on any other ship. Next time,I'll choose a cabin nearer the stairs or elevator, but other than long walks to get somewhere, it was nice. The ports: The ports were pretty standard -- Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. We chose a fun shore excursion in Cozumel, Salsa and Salsa, which had us making our own salsas and margaritas and then later learning to dance the salsa. In Grand Cayman, I swam with the stingrays; in Jamaica, just a terrible port, had a nice trip to GOod Hope, a historic plantation home. The entertainment: The singers and dancers were no better than what I'd find in Birmingham, but the ice show was well worth waiting in line to get tickets. The food: Not great, but I've come not to expect great things from cruise ship food. The kitchen is feeding a lot of people, so the food isn't going to be top-notch. The two specialty restaurants, Chops and Portofina, were well worth the up charge. The service: Great service from start to finish. Some of the friendliest workers I've encountered anywhere. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
We have been on over twenty cruises on eight different cruise lines and are platinum members with Royal Caribbean. We are in our early sixties and very active. I am very picky when it comes to food and service on a ship, so I will not ... Read More
We have been on over twenty cruises on eight different cruise lines and are platinum members with Royal Caribbean. We are in our early sixties and very active. I am very picky when it comes to food and service on a ship, so I will not hold back. Fortunately I have very few negative comments about this cruise. The check in process was short and easy, but the young man checking us in was not very pleasant, so things got started off poorly.(one bad comment). We boarded the ship about 12:15 and had to wait until 1pm for our cabin, but that is stated in the paperwork. We had a superior balcony #8548 which was in the front of the ship. It was a great cabin with plenty of drawers and closet space. The only thing I would change next time is the location. This ship only has four elevator banks which are located far forward and far aft. Most of the action on this ship happens aft, so I would choose aft next time. If you are located by the elevator area it can be noisy. Not from the elevators, but from the Promenade area on deck five where they play music late and have street parties. It echos up through the ship. Our room steward Angel was great. We did have a problem with the toilet (one time) and with the shower (one time). The shower got stopped up and flooded the bathroom, but they fixed both immediately. They also had to fix the refrigerator. This ship is going to dry dock next year for a refit, but it still looks great with very little wear. The dinning room is beautiful and I thought the food and service was excellent and much better than many of the other lines we have been on. The only problem we had was the fact that they moved our dinner time from 6pm to 5:30pm which really rushed us in the afternoon, and left a lot of time in the evening. There is very little to do on this ship between 8pm and 9:30pm if you don't go to the show or gamble. There is some dancing between 7:15 and 8pm and then again around 9:30. We like to dance and found the dance floors to be very very small and crowded, but the music was pretty good. We did eat at Portofinos which was good, but I am not sure we would eat there again since the food in the dinning room was so good and our table mates were very nice. In fact I must say the people on this ship were some of the nicest I have ever met. The age range was probably 40 to 65, and a lot of nice southern people. We also ate at Johnny Rockets where the burgers were really good, but the charge is $4.95 for food and $6 for a shake!!! Our waitress was terrible, but we got a good laugh out of it. The ports were very good. In Cozumel we went on the Tulum beach break excursion which was very interesting. The private beach was beautiful and the lunch was great, but there is no time to shop. In Jamaica we went on the Dreamer catamaran with snorkeling and drinks. I highly recommend that excursion, it is a blast and the reef is beautiful. In Cayman we snorkeled at Edan Rock dive shop which is a short walk from the tender pier. We did that on our own and it is free if you don't have to rent equipment. For our cruise, the sea days were very long because it was to cold and windy to enjoy being outside. That is a chance you take going out of New Orleans in the winter, so be prepared to do something other than lay by the pool and be sure to take a jacket. We also spent a day and night in New Orleans, which is always a lot of fun. We stayed at the Embassy Suits, which is right by the port. You can park your car there while you cruise for $15 per day. The disembarkation was very fast and easy with no problems except we could not find our luggage in the designated spot. Right as I was about to panic, the porter suggested we look in a special area, which it happened to be in. (the tags had been torn off). Other than a few minor problem we had a great time on a really beautiful ship with great service and great food. I would highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
After cruise #4 we're still loyal to the Royal! The Port of New Orleans is wonderful. We've sailed out of Miami, Tampa, and New Jersey and this was the fastest and easiest. Clean, nice looking, efficient, & friendly port ... Read More
After cruise #4 we're still loyal to the Royal! The Port of New Orleans is wonderful. We've sailed out of Miami, Tampa, and New Jersey and this was the fastest and easiest. Clean, nice looking, efficient, & friendly port staff. Also, porters weren't NEARLY as pushy about taking our luggage as they have been in other ports. We arrived at 10 and were on the ship by 10:45. It's a large port - we left out of Julia Street, #2. Do your homework before you drive there. When we arrived at 10, cruisers were still disembarking from the previous cruise, so we asked a port employee when we could expect them to start to allow us on. She told us to go shopping across the street at the RiverWalk! Luckily we knew not to do that, and soon enough they called for us. Very nice to have a separate desk for suite and C&A guests. Cookies and water for all while we waited. Security and x-ray scanning while getting on board was a breeze - they didn't say a word about our 2 bottles of wine. Even though this is allowed now we figured they'd be a lot more stringent about counting them and making sure you're following the policy, but it was easy! Navigator is beautiful. Yes, she's due for some upgrades, but that doesn't mean she's not a beautiful ship. They see 3000 people every week, so she's bound to have some wear. Loved the decor - beautiful opera & dance art work! - We had the 5 bottle wine package and free drinks in the concierge lounge from 5-8:30. Because of that we only spent a total of about $250 on alcohol over 7 nights. As in the past, most cocktails were priced between $6.75 and $9. The liquor package would have been a waste for us, based on those factors. - Solarium rules WERE enforced - it was a LOT more peaceful than last time we cruised - Windjammer had a crayfish bar going out of NOLA! - Ricardo Mock is a WONDERFUL concierge. Great cappuccino/coffee machine in the lounge. We've changed to an 8:30 dinner time from now on so we can spend a few hours in the lounge drinking! - Spa is great, as always. Loved the Couples Massage and the Rasul (1-hour steam room, salt scrub, seaweed wrap, etc.) for couples to do together, unsupervised). BOOK YOUR APPOINTMENT RIGHT AWAY. At-sea days fill up instantly. - Beautiful fitness center - just as nice as the Y at home. Free weights, machines, elliptical, treadmill, space to stretch, etc. - Chops and Portofinos ARE worth the extra money. The food is delicious, the staff are thoughtful, and it's very romantic and peaceful. - The Mystery Dinner is fun! Kind of cliche, but cute, good food, and fun camaraderie with the rest of your team. - We changed an excursion at the last minute - the staff at guest services was more than happy to refund us for the first excursion and book us on a new one. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
My husband and I returned yesterday from a fabulous 7-day cruise on Navigator of the Seas. We left from New Orleans on March 2. Embarkation was not bad - it took about 2 hours total. We stayed at the Wyndham, Riverfront, which was ... Read More
My husband and I returned yesterday from a fabulous 7-day cruise on Navigator of the Seas. We left from New Orleans on March 2. Embarkation was not bad - it took about 2 hours total. We stayed at the Wyndham, Riverfront, which was in a perfect location to get on the cruise boat, right across the street. Our room was charming, clean, and had high ceiling, but it did not include any sort of breakfast or even coffee in the morning. We paid about $150 for the room, which came to about $180 including taxes and fees. We were able to walk across the street in the morning to embark. The boat is amazing - it really is a floating town on the sea, with a promenade down the middle of the boat. The architecture and flow of the boat is amazing. It felt that someone put love and thought into the flow of the boat, so that it never felt crowded. The only exception was lunch at the Windjammer on the first day. There was always something to see or do, including putt putt, work out (great gym with free weights, numerous cardio machines overlooking the ocean, aerobics/yoga classes, sauna, and hot tub in the gym), dance, go to the festivals on the promenade, get in the hot tub or pools, and of course, eat. The cruise went to Cozumel, Falmouth, Jamaica, and Georgetown, Cayman Island. We did not do any tours while at these locations, but instead we tried to be cheap. On Cozumel, we took a taxi to Playa Mia, which our Guest Relations person on the boat said was the closest beach. The taxi cost $16 each way, and there was a $30 dollar per person entrance fee to this beach (ouch). We could have taken the tour to Playa Mia and would have come out about even. The beach was beautiful and felt safe, and they had a buffet lunch available for an additional fee. The bartender poured very heavily, which was nice, and I had my picture made holding an iguana. The only detriments were that the beach was a bit crowded and had a steep entrance fee. We were able to walk to the beach at Georgetown, which was great. Not only did we save money, but we were able to get to know the island more intimately. We ended up at a beach with the other Royal Caribbean cruisers, where we were able to get two chairs and an umbrella for $20 total. It was a gorgeous beach, and I was really happy there. At Falmouth, we got off the boat, entered into a fabricated gaited area with all sort of stores and shopping (standard tourist traps), and then ventured out beyond the gates. It was intense out there, with cops patrolling everywhere. We went around the block and came back in the gates. Next time, we'll probably do a tour, although I've done the Dunn River Falls climb before, and found it to be less than exciting. The food on the boat was fantastic. I like to eat, and the food was generally EXCELLENT. My husband and I were blown away at the quality of the food. Of course, there were a few less than excellent items here and there (and the white wine was consistently served less than chilled), but overall, the food was amazing. My favorites were the lobster served on Thursday night and the lamb shank served on Friday night. The food in the Windjammer was always excellent. I have no idea how they manage to make so much food consistently taste so great. Our interior cabin was as good as an interior cabin without a window on a boat could be. Waking up in the dark was made easier by the room service delivery. See the ice show!!!!!! It is wildly creative and fun! They kicked up the activities by the pool and on the promenade on the last two days on the boat, the days at sea. We had a blast! When we returned, we did a tour in New Orleans because we had 8 hours before our flight left. It was great - very worthwhile. I recommend it. Overall, this was a wonderful cruise, and I wish I were back on the Navigator of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
This was my Girlfriend and I first cruise as adults(I cruised when I was 6 years old, she never has). Let me start by saying the cruise was AWESOME! We were on Navigator Of The Seas. The biggest thing that made the trip enjoyable was ... Read More
This was my Girlfriend and I first cruise as adults(I cruised when I was 6 years old, she never has). Let me start by saying the cruise was AWESOME! We were on Navigator Of The Seas. The biggest thing that made the trip enjoyable was how clean everything was on the ship. no bugs, no smells, no overflowing garbage, no smudgy surfaces.....ever. nothing worse than a dirty atmosphere to ruin the mood. The food was top notch, the worst thing we ate was just "OK" and that was poor selection of meal on our part. I would rate the food 9 out of 10. We ate in the MDR all nights except one and had My time Dining. we had one of two waiters every time. The other night Wed night we ate at Chops, I give it an 10 out of 10 for taste, performance, value, and presentation. I had the Porterhouse and my GF had the Filet Mingon. All AWESOME and The Mud-pie for dessert was worth the extra 30 alone. The one downside to the cruise were kids were not controlled. They invaded the pools and we roudy and parents did nothing and cruise staff were busy doing other things to babysit(not their responsibility). Kids took up space in the elevators and would ride up and down for hours, this is fine until they take up half the elevator when people are in line to get on and they dont move or when several times you get in to see they just pushed every floor button to ride for fun and you get out because you dont want to go to every floor when your trying to get lunch. Every port was Great! Grand Cayman was the best. Cozumel was very nice, has rough beaches because of weather coming in, and Falmouth was rich in culture, and as in many reviews about that port.... STAY in the gates unless you book a tour or plan on taking a cab out of town, the locals outside will pursue you until you come to their shack, they do this by chasing up the street after you yelling and screaming. We did the ATV safari at Good Hope Estate and this was amazing, defiantly a cruise highlight. Our stateroom was basic interior and to our liking, we slept in their and that was it, we were busy vacationing and not being couch potatoes. The Solarium was our place of choice to hang and drink, mostly in the whirlpools . We spent 2 days after in New Orleans and was a very good choice on our part, great city with Awesome food, culture, and sights to see. Embarkation was a breeze and so was debarkation. We self serviced our bags off. We enjoyed the cruise immensely and we booked our next with RCCL on board already. WE recommend RCCL to anyone! Navigator was a great ship! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
We sailed on Navigator out of New Orleans on the March 30, 2013 sailing. There were 4 adults and 2 kids, both under the age of 12. It was spring break. We drove to New Orleans a day early because my wife and kids had never been there. We ... Read More
We sailed on Navigator out of New Orleans on the March 30, 2013 sailing. There were 4 adults and 2 kids, both under the age of 12. It was spring break. We drove to New Orleans a day early because my wife and kids had never been there. We arrived at the port about 10:00. We parked in the "whale lot" at the pier, at a cost of $16 per day. We were onboard by 11:00a. This is our 3rd cruise with RC. We have sailed on Monarch and Liberty. The ship was in good condition as far as we could tell. We had no complaints. The food was as good as our previous cruises. The dining and wait staff were great! They went out of their way the entire cruise to make sure we were pleased. The entertainment was just ok. I guess we were spoiled by the quality on Liberty last year. The singers were average. The entertainment was average. The cruise director was bland. We skipped a couple of the shows. The ice show was great. Last year on Liberty our kids would not stay in Adventure Ocean. This year, they begged to go every day. There is not "kids area" on the pool deck of this ship, which was a bummer. The chairs by the pool deck were "taken" by 8:00a every day and the pool area was very crowded. We did have a couple of instances of very pushy and borderline rude staff on board. One guy in the photo gallery and one lady in the salon where my mother in law had her hair done while on board. These were isolated instances. The crew and staff on board are great! At Cozumel, we did Paradise beach. We thought we were getting a good deal as Paradise Beach has good reviews on this site. What we didn't know was the mandatory $10 per person food purchase. Grand Cayman is beautiful. We did not do an excursion. We did a private excursion with Barrett Adventures in Falmouth. It was great! We went tubing down the White River and then climbed and swam in the "secret falls". Carolyn Barrett and Company are great! All in all we had a great time! We are already planning our next trip for August. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
Hubby and I met his brother and family for a week long get away. We flew to New Orleans from Oklashoma City on Friday before embarkation on Saturday. Taxi fare from airport to Embassy Suites cost $35 for us both and took about 25 ... Read More
Hubby and I met his brother and family for a week long get away. We flew to New Orleans from Oklashoma City on Friday before embarkation on Saturday. Taxi fare from airport to Embassy Suites cost $35 for us both and took about 25 minutes. Saturday, we drove two blocks from the hotel to the cruise ship terminal parking lot, parked, went thru the check in lines (previous RC cruisers have faster lines) and were on board within an hour! We were NOT allowed into our cabins until 1:00 even though we tried to get in at 12:15. A polite, yet firm RC employee was guarding the area. At 1:00 an announcement was made that the cabins were ready. Lunch was in the Windjammer dining area which is buffet style. Total chaos finding a table but the employees were very helpful clearing dirty tables and helping us find a seat. We ate in the WJ several times for lunch during the week and once at night. Overall, the selection of food was good, but the quality was so-so at best. Day 1 was a chilly, rainy day at sea. Nothing much to report. Dinner was formal. We saw a mixture of people dressed very formal (tuxes and long evening gowns), dressy (suits and cocktail dresses) and nice (slacks and sundresses) Days 5 & 6 were sea days. Day 7 was disembarkation. We used the self assist departure program which means we took all our luggage and left when we needed to. It took about 45 minutes to get off and thru customs. No problems there. We were at Cafe du Mond by 10:00 which was crazy crowded! Overall, I'd give this cruise an 8 out of 10. I missed the in-cabin robes I was used to on Carnival. Room service for breakfast was average but always arrived on time. Breakfast in the Nutcracker two mornings. One morning, it was super fast and the next day it took forever! Our cabin steward did a nice job, but we hardly ever saw him. We used my time dining and LOVED our waitstaff. We tipped them extra the last night because we felt like they worked their tails off to keep our table of 6 (including 2 teenage girls) happy all week long. The refrigerator in the cabin was stocked with soda, snacks and water. There's a price list inside. No alcohol was included. We tried to visit every bar at least once and have to say this ship has many of them! Plenty of places to sit and relax. A few of them are smoking including one in the Royal Promenade that allows the smoke to drift into the public areas. I didn't much enjoy that. The only downer of the week was our noisy neighbors. They opened the door between their two balconies and the four of them sat outside talking so loudly we felt like we should join in the conversation! We love to cruise and will choose the next cruise based on itinerary and cost. We honestly didn't see much different between RC and Carnival. My port reviews are below. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
Our cruise was from March 23-30 on the wonderful Navigator of the Seas. I traveled with just my husband. This was our third cruise together, and we couldn't have chosen a better ship. I have read several reviews about the carpet ... Read More
Our cruise was from March 23-30 on the wonderful Navigator of the Seas. I traveled with just my husband. This was our third cruise together, and we couldn't have chosen a better ship. I have read several reviews about the carpet being worn, things missing, etc. I did not see any of that. Nothing caught my eye that was out of ordinary on the ship. The televisions in the rooms are older, but the ship is due for a re-vamp in January, so I am sure this will get addressed...although it was not that huge of a deal for me and my husband. The food was excellent on this ship. The only thing that I found a little discouraging was on the last night, I ordered the New York strip from the main dining room. It came out a little tough, but it was not anything to send back. The desserts were fabulous. Our favorite place was the Cafe Promenade. We loved the sandwiches there. Also, we liked the fact that we could get fresh fruits and coffee, hot chocolate, etc, any time of day. The choices of water were good too...watermelon water with real watermelon? Yes please!! Sea days were very windy. I found it hard to sit by the pool and "bask" in the sunlight. Probably because MOST deck chairs were saved with towels. There are signs posted everywhere to not do this, but no one pays any attention to this rule. We did witness one pool attendant removing towels once, but an angry man stormed up to him and told him he was saving those. The attendant just threw his hands up and left. I guess at that point, what could you do?? The entertainment was pretty good. The only thing, I enjoyed the singers, but I would have liked to watch something that had somewhat of a plot. The Broadway tribute was okay, but I didn't know any of the songs. I think I was spoiled from the Liberty of the Seas because there we were able to see Saturday Night Fever the musical, which was fabulous. I know the Voyager class ships don't offer the Broadway plays, but I think they could have told a better story with the song choices. The most entertaining things were the game shows. The Love & Marriage game show was a riot, along with "The Liar's Club", which consisted of the cruise director and three of her staff. They were given words to define (adults only!) and three of them were lying while one would tell the truth. It was hysterical! Also, the Quest game show was a good time had by all! (Another Adults Only Show). I won't give that one away because you definitely need to participate in it on the next to last night. Also, the Karaoke was very entertaining, although I did not think the "judges" picked the right "Karaoke Superstar Finalist". Jamaica: Falmouth is a quaint little town, but book an excursion through Royal Caribbean!! Do NOT book through the "tour guides" that roam outside of the gates. You will get bugged to death. If you don't enjoy telling people "No" constantly, don't venture outside the gate, because it is inevitable and you will. We made the mistake of venturing outside the gate, and we were bugged so much that we almost turned around to go back until we saw our dinner friends, and they invited us to take their "City" tour with them. We were grateful for that, because people then stopped talking to us. The people will pressure you into looking in their "tents" at their "goodies". Basically, everyone has all the same stuff. It gets annoying also to hear people yelling at you to "braid your hair". Um, no. I don't want you braiding my hair! I even had a lady rudely say "I saw you here before. Why did you put that hat on?" I replied with "Because it's hot, and I need shade" She then says "Take it off and let me braid your hair." You just have to walk away, but it's difficult when they will literally FOLLOW you for blocks. After our "city" tour, my husband and I went back to the Royal Caribbean port and did a little shopping inside. Next time, if we visit Falmouth, we WILL take an excursion through the cruise line. Grand Cayman: We were the only ship in port that morning until later that afternoon. The others that were supposed to dock, decided to spend a day at sea. Our captain wasn't scared though, and just kept finding smoother waters. The tendering process was a little scary, but other than that we were fine. We had booked through the cruise line a glass bottom boat and island tour. The boat had been cancelled due to weather, but the island tour was great.We received a 30% refund. (With that we were able to get the shirt and hat we had been eyeing in the shops on board). It was a NICE 180 from Jamaica. No one haggling you. I felt safe walking around everywhere. Cozumel: Always my favorite port. We rented a car and drove around the island. This is our second time doing that, and I think next time we will book an excursion...I kind of want to get in the water there!! Also, you will feel safe. No one bothering you. An occasional street vendor yelling at you, but nothing like Jamaica. There are plenty of things to do on board for all ages. I did spend a lot of time sleeping...which was fine by me! We will definitely take another cruise with Royal Caribbean again. Probably not on the Navigator because this was her next to last cruise from NOLA. She then moves on to Europe, gets the re-vamp in January, and then she will be stationed in Galveston, Texas. That's a far drive for us, so I am very happy we cruised out of NOLA on her next to last cruise! The ship is beautiful, the cruise director is great, and the staff will do anything to serve you. Wonderful spring break cruise! :) Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
First a little about me. This will be my 22nd cruise. It is my eighth cruise on Royal Caribbean and for the first time in 22 cruises I am repeating a ship. I was on the Navigator of the Seas back in August 2004. At the request of ... Read More
First a little about me. This will be my 22nd cruise. It is my eighth cruise on Royal Caribbean and for the first time in 22 cruises I am repeating a ship. I was on the Navigator of the Seas back in August 2004. At the request of someone who wanted more details, I decided to write my review while on the ship when things were still fresh in my mind. Then, at the request of several, I loaded photo editing software on my laptop so that I could edit the photographs and add the photographs to the review on the main boards. I also post my review to the review section, but I cannot include the photographs in the review section. I post to the review section so that those searching for a review can find it easily. I post to the main boards so those that want to add comments or ask questions can. I am bringing three cameras with me. I have a Nikon D5100 that I will use mainly on the ship, a Canon A1300 that I will use mainly on dry land off the ship (I call it my travel camera because it is much smaller than the DSLR so it is much easier to carry around on shore excursions) and a Canon D10 waterproof camera that I will use in the water, such as in Cozumel and Grand Cayman. Thursday, February 28, 2013 -- Travel day I am currently at LAX waiting for my flight to New Orleans. I made reservations for a taxi to take me to the Fly-Away Bus which will take me to LAX. Total trip cost - $26 including tip. It comes to about $100 if I take the taxi all the way and about the same amount if I drive and pay for parking. I'll use a share-the-ride van to return home, which costs about $48 because the Fly-Away Bus takes a long time to show up and when it does, since United is the last stop, sometimes it is full. At any rate last night I called the taxi company to confirm my reservation and verify that they have the special instructions I gave them. They wanted to know if I was ready to go (what twelve hours early -- NO!). The next morning I get a quick call, "The taxi has arrived" CLICK. I run outside -- no taxi. I call and I'm told the taxi is on his way. Ten minutes another call, "The taxi has arrived" CLICK. I've been standing outside all this time and still no taxi. I call again. This time I get someone who is rather rude. Still no taxi. Then another call to me. This time the person says she has the driver on the phone. Once again the special instructions I gave them are ignored. This happens every time because I am not physically located on the same street that is my street address. I've got to give a different taxi company a try. I go through this every time with this company, though this is the first time I ended up with someone who was rude. All that said and done, I make it to the bus on time and despite the famous Los Angeles traffic, we make it to the airport in a reasonable amount of time. The security line was not too bad except my lower right leg need a pat down. Just the lower right leg, nothing else. What does my right leg have that my left leg doesn't have? Who knows? So here I am, in the United Club (thanks to a day pass I have) at LAX typing this and boarding will begin in about ten minutes. So I'll get back to you after my arrival in New Orleans. Unfortunately I'll be spending a long time at the New Orleans Airport before the return flight (working on this) and there is no United Club in the airport. Well the flight to New Orleans was uneventful. The in-flight entertainment was Chasing Mavericks, a film about a surfer named Jay Moriarity, a very good film in my opinion. I am in an Economy Plus seat. I've been in first class and it is not worth the extra cost. All I want is the extra legroom and Economy Plus offers that for a very reasonable price over the cost of knees in the back of the seat in front of you coach. My two seat mates are great. One is from New Orleans but now lives in Southern California and the other is also taking a cruise on Carnival. My one checked bag is one of the first to come of the plane that is not marked priority (first class and those willing to pay extra for the service get their bags marked priority). One mistake I made was to exchange my camera bag (with the camera in it) for my computer bag, after the movie was over. So now the camera bag is in the overhead bin and I have a window seat with a great view of New Orleans -- RATS! I have a Sudoku book in the computer bag that I used to pass the time until we land which is why I made the switch. I must admit, I was surprised at what I saw of the Mississippi River. I was expecting a very wide blue tinted, fairly straight river. Instead what I saw was much narrower than I expected the color of mud, full of barges and with more switch backs than a steep mountain road. No wonder it takes eight hours to get from the gulf to the city, the ship has to travel three times further than a crow would fly making the same trip. On the way out of the airport I see a hotel shuttle service. It costs $20 one way ($38 round trip -- I'm taking the ship's shore excursion tour back to the airport). I estimated a taxi would cost $100, so I try it out. Each van holds fourteen people and I am number seventeen in line. Ahead of me is someone else from Southern California and someone from Australia. We chat for a bit which helps fill the time until the next van arrives. All in all I spent 45 minutes in line. It is the price one pays to save $80. I'm not in any rush, so the delay is not that big of a deal. But then I get lucky. I'm last one dropped off, so I get a free tour of the downtown / French Quarter area. I'm in the Courtyard New Orleans Downtown. It used to be the Iberville Suites. It is a two room suite and a very nice hotel room. I highly recommend it. I "won" it in a bid on one of those sites where you don't know what you are getting until you get it (picture the former captain of the Enterprise and you'll know which site I used). It is located one block from Bourbon Street and one block from Canal Street, so it is a great location. There is even free Internet access. Usually the more the room cost, the more the Internet access costs. I drop off my luggage, grab my travel camera, and head off to a nearby (walking distance) steakhouse. I get a 24 ounce rib eye (I haven't eaten except for a sandwich on the plane) all day, so I have no problem finishing off a very good steak. The steak, ice tea, three good sized shrimp (the term large shrimp is an oxymoron) and a pecan pie plus tip comes to $77. Expensive, but well worth it. The steak house is Brennan Steak House and it is about two blocks from the hotel. After dinner it is about 7:30pm and I decide to checkout Bourbon Street at night. The street is blocked off from traffic, so people can walk down the middle of the street. For the most part the street is filled with bars, restaurants, jazz halls and places where you can learn some new pole dancing moves (if that is what you are into). They all say no cover charge, so watch out for the drink prices. Finally I head back to the hotel to check out one of the two large wide screen TVs in the large sitting room. Discovery Channel and the History Channel offer some things to keep me entertained until it is late (here -- my body is still two hours behind) and then I update this. Well, tomorrow I am meeting several people I have been corresponding with for the last six and a half years on one of the cruise forums I belong too. We will meet, for the first time, for a two hour tour, on the Steamboat Natchez. So, until tomorrow morning, well, actually later this morning, good night. Friday, March 1 -- Visiting New Orleans Since I stayed up late, I slept in late, getting up in time to shower and still have time for lunch and then off to the 11:30am lunch tour on the Steamboat Natchez. I decide to catch quick lunch at McDonalds. Unfortunately I arrived at 10:25am and lunch is not until 10:30am, so I have breakfast. I went to McDonalds because I know where it is, it is close (just down the block) and it is quick. I know there is another McDonalds just around the block from the one I am in. However, upon arriving back at the hotel I realize there is also a McDonalds across the street from the hotel. I grab my camera, catch a cab and head over to the Steamship Natchez. It is an $8 cab ride including tip. I board the ship no problem. I meet up with some of the people I'll be cruising with. Then I head out to take some pictures. But the camera refuses to take the picture. A quick check reveals the problem. When I uploaded the pictures last night I took the memory card out of the camera and put it in the computer. Unfortunately I forgot to reverse the process -- stupid mistake. I have over one hundred gigabytes on over ten memory cards. Unfortunately they are all currently in the hotel room. Fortunately one of my future fellow passengers had an extra memory card. The tour is great. First I check out the ship and they let us into the engine room. One of the people in the engine room sees how interested I was in the goings on and gave me an information sheet on the ship. Then I head back to the person who lent me the memory card to tell him about the engine room. Soon we are both touring the engine room. Then suddenly it seems half the passengers on the ship show up in the engine room. About the time I finish checking out the ship it reaches the halfway point. The ship turns around and I get the chance to see the goings on around the river on the way back. After departing the ship I check out the river walk. There is an IMAX Theater and an aquarium. I would check them out but they are $20 plus each, and I don't feel like spending that kind of money right now. My little walk has lead me to the Cable Street street car. It is only $1.25 to get back, but I end up waiting about twenty minutes until one of the electric trolleys, going in the same direction I want to go, shows up. Back at the hotel I just relax until it is dinner time. Tonight I am going to try an Italian restaurant I found last night when walking up and down Bourbon Street. One thing I notice when walking to the restaurant is that Bourbon Street is more crowded tonight (Friday night) than it was last night. I end up ordering lasagna with a shrimp appetizer. I also had ice tea, but the tea was pre-sweetened. It was too sweet for me; I ended up having to water it down with water. Total cost, including the tip is $44, and that is the problem. Once a week I get an equally good Italian dinner at a restaurant home for half this price. This is why I tend to avoid the Italian restaurants on the ship. For the most part pasta is pasta. However, there are different qualities of meet (select, choice and prime) and methods of cooking that do make a difference so I do like to go to the ship board steakhouses. After dinner I am back in the hotel room watching TV, uploading my photographs and working on this. I've enjoyed New Orleans and would not mind coming back here again in the future. But for now it is 2am (again) and I've got a very important meeting I have to make later this afternoon, so until later this morning, good night. Saturday, March 02, 2013 -- Embarkation day I'm up at 8am. I check out the Internet for the last time. I don't do Internet on the ship unless there is a lot of interest in the ship, and there isn't that much interest in this ship at this time. Then I pack. Just before I am ready to shower and dress housekeeping knocks on my door. It is only 10am and I am planning to leave at 10:30am. Checkout time is noon, so I tell her I'll be leaving pretty soon. I've learned to bar the door from the inside when I am showing because these people (on land or sea) knock, and if they don't get a reply they use their pass key. Well, if I'm in the shower I am not going to hear them knock. At any rate I leave the hotel at 10:30am, just like I planned, and catch a cab. My plan is to get to the port at 11am and hopefully board by 11:30am. To my surprise, the cruise ship that was there yesterday (the Oriana) is still there. We are directed to a different location to unload and board. The driver was great, so I ended up giving him a 33% tip. He was asking about the recent cruise ship problems and I we eventually compared plane crashes to ships sinking. I ended up telling him that there were a lot more planes in the ocean than ships in the sky. He laughed and then said he had to agree with me on that. We keep up this back and forth the whole trip, it was quite entertaining. Well, at any rate I start walking toward the terminal and it looks like people are already boarding. I am both diamond and in a (mini) suite. It is the suite line that is boarding and fifteen minutes after giving my checked bag to the porter I am on the ship. It is a strange feeling, as this is the first time I have ever repeated a ship. In 2004 all I had was a 3.2 mega pixel camera with a two to one zoom. Now I have a DSLR (16 mega pixels) and the lens I am using to photograph the ship has a six to one zoom (plus I have an even more powerful zoom giving me a total zoom range of about eleven to one). At any rate, I sneak into my cabin, find my cabin steward, tell him I am dropping off my carry-ons, and go about photographing the ship, and this time I know what I want to photograph and where it is from experience (I took over 500 photographs today). Just as I get to the Windjammer they announce that the cabins are ready. What luck, with everyone leaving the Windjammer I have no problem getting a table. By this time I have photographed everything I want on decks eleven through fourteen. So after lunch I head back to the cabin to see if my luggage has arrived (not yet). So I head over to the cabin of the guy who lent me the memory card. I knock -- no answer. I start to leave and look who is coming down the hall (my timing seems to be perfect today). I give him the memory card (with the pictures still on it) plus interest (I gave him an extra one I have -- don't worry, I still have ten or eleven with me totaling well over one hundred gigabytes). After that I go to the common areas on the lower decks (decks three, four and five). After all of that it is back to cabin where I find my luggage waiting for me. I put it in the walk-in closet and sit down and rest for a bit. Then I see the sign that if I want ice I have to ask for it and my room steward is nowhere to be found. So I have to drink the not so cold water from the tap. Just in case I put a glass of water in the mini fridge and then photograph the cabin. Once I finish that it is time to unpack. Now it is after 3pm and I figure the muster drill is at 4pm (I was right). So I decide to just rest and have some more water. To my surprise, the water in the cabin refrigerator is cold. For the first time in my cruising history I've got a refrigerator that actually works. Soon the dreaded seven short and one long horn sound. I put my shoes on and open the door just in time to find my room steward checking up on me (they put a red card in the card key slot to indicate that the cabin has been checked. Why, they take roll at the muster drill. At any rate I ask for ice, which he says he will get for me after the muster drill. At the muster drill I am told to stand in a place that allows me to be the first one in the door when the muster drill is over (like I said, my timing is great today -- too bad they don't sell lottery tickets on the ship). We are having our sail-away in the Viking Lounge, so I take an elevator from deck four to deck fourteen. At the sail-away I have a mudslide (complete with state sale's tax) and watch as the captain uses his thrusters to move away from the dock and then spins the ship so that we can go down river. At this point the Mississippi River is only a little wider than this ship is long. So we are headed down river, a trip that will take about eight hours. As the sun sets I can no longer tell were the river banks are and soon land and river blend into one. I'm not sure how the pilot can tell, since ships don't have headlights. Finally I leave the sail-away to take a few night time shots (it is dark outside and the lights are on inside, making photography through the windows of the Viking Lounge a bad idea. Then back to the cabin as dinner will be ready soon (I have late seating). I turn on the TV and what do I see, a program on the George Smith incident. At first I wonder why Royal Caribbean is showing this when I realize this is just a regularly scheduled program (Nancy Grace Mysteries). I don't know if she solved the mystery of how George Smith died (though she seems to be leaning toward blaming the Russians) because I had to leave to go to dinner. There were lots of good choices, so I decide to have both the chicken and the extra cost, cooked to order, filet from Chops (which comes to $18.54 including tip and tax). The chicken was good and the steak was excellent. My tablemates, as well as those at the table next to me, are all part of the group I am in. Great group by the way. After dinner I am dead tired and head back to the cabin to upload the pictures and work on this. I decide to venture out on my balcony to see what I can see (which is not much) when I notice a big ship headed toward us. It is the Carnival Conquest on its way to New Orleans. I run back into the cabin to grab my camera and I take a few pictures. Then back in the cabin to upload the pictures and continue to work on this. The next time I look up there are a whole bunch of balconies just outside my window. I grab my camera again and run outside again. This time it is an NCL ship. I didn't get the name, but I am guessing it is the NCL Sky. All of this occurred between 11 and 11:10pm. Given we are still in the river, the ships are passing each other at about two hundred feet apart (my estimate -- at the Captain's Corner I learns that the ships are actually 400 feet apart). It is now midnight and it is too dark for me to tell if we are still in the river. Oh wait a second, there is a clue. The pilot boat is right below me. Okay, we must be ready to say goodbye to the river pilot and set a course in the Gulf of Mexico for, well Mexico (Cozumel to be exact). At any rate, it is late, I've covered the highlights for today (now yesterday) and I am tired. So, until later today -- good night. Sunday, March 3, 2013 -- Day at Sea I wake up at about 6:35am and suddenly realize my mistake. I forgot to check on the status of the sunrise when I first opened my eyes earlier. Still, I do get a couple of good sun risen photos, just to show I was there. Also, either the river has become extremely wide, or we are in the Gulf of Mexico, doing about 17.5 knots on our way to Cozumel. We were going about 15 knots in the river. However, the reason we didn't make much progress in the first eight hours is that the river has many switch backs. Now in the open ocean we are on a straight SSE course and have traveled much further in the last seven hours then we did during the first seven hours. According to the ship's information channel, we have traveled 243 miles since leaving New Orleans. We are only about one and half miles from land; though that land is straight down (we don't want to go in that direction). The ship's information channel gives all sorts of good information except for one very important bit of information -- the air temperature. Still it felt nice when I was taking the pictures, at least ten degrees warmer than what we were experiencing in New Orleans. I expect we will see temperatures in the lower seventies soon, as the sun is quite warm (though there is a lot of cloud cover). Okay, that was the 7:30am forecast. The 9am revised forecast is nice and cool due to heavy cloud cover. Most of the passengers will not be happy, but I am, I like it cool. It is single t-shirt weather for me, which is good, because I'm wearing my favorite cruise ship t-shirt. It shows a deer in a forest with arrows stuck in all the trees. The caption reads vegetarian, Indian word for lousy hunter. I bought it on my first cruise in Sitka, Alaska in 1999. Last night I was so tired I forgot to begin charging my camera batteries. No matter, this junior suite has two plugs. Now all I have to do is find my little camera bag. I don't see it and I do remember packing it when I left the hotel. After double checking all the places I remember putting things in it suddenly occurs to me that behind the side mirrors on the desk is some storage room that is the perfect size for my small camera bag. Sure enough that is where it is. Well, it is 8am now. Time to shower, get dressed, perhaps get some breakfast and maybe a short video from the bow. Then at 10am we are having a gift exchange followed by a Meet and Mingle at 11:30am in the Dungeon (the disco). What a terrible place for a Meet and Mingle as it is dark down there. I decide to bring my breakfast of bacon, eggs, rice and milk back to the cabin to eat on the balcony. And yes, that is a banana in my pocket, except it is in my back pocket. The plates are big, but there are no trays, so things like silverware and the banana have to be transported in my pockets. After breakfast I update this and then it is off to the helicopter pad for a short video. On the way I take more pictures of the Royal Promenade. I also check out the stores. This is not a good time to go to the stores because this is when they first open and EVERYBODY wants to check them out. Though I'm not going to buy anything, I do get to see what I might be interested in, and it's not much. This of course is a problem with the number of cruises I have taken. I pretty much have everything I want. Maybe later in the week they will have something that interests me. Now it is 9:40am and time to get ready for the gift exchange. First I tried to give away some of the discount coupons that I received in my diamond coupon book. I couldn't give away all the coupons I had no intention of using. One coupon is good for a fifteen percent discount on $1,000 or more jewelry purchase. If you really like your bedding, I've got a fifteen percent coupon if you are interested in purchasing it. I didn't find any takers either of those two coupons. However, I was able to get rid of my free spin and match play coupons. After the gift exchange I ended up with a mug from Minnesota, which just happens to be the location of the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Then we went to the stairs near the Metropolis Theater for a group photo. Many of us then went to the Dungeon for another Meet and Mingle event. Though I knew the time and place, I did not receive the invitation -- until I returned to the cabin with my friends AFTER the Meet and Mingle. There was also an invitation to a behind-the-scenes Theater Tour. I did this on the Enchantment of the Seas and I did not find it that interesting. I'll wait until I'm diamond plus when more interesting tours are offered. Finally there is an invitation to a diamond event tomorrow late afternoon. As I suspected, the Dungeon was not a good place for the Meet and Mingle as it is dark down there. There were a few small prizes given out, than then a friend won the grand prize, which was one of each of the prior prizes in a small backpack. We then spoke for a long time and then went to my cabin followed by my friend's grand suite for our own private, and limited, cabin crawl. They then headed to the ice show and I went back to my cabin where my lack of sleep caught up with me. But prior to that someone came by to check the mini-fridge see if I had used any of the items. I showed him that I moved things too make room for my orange juice and glass of cold water. However, nothing was missing. After a much needed two hour nap I went up to deck twelve to catch the sunset. I was not the only one there for that purpose. However, the sun set behind the clouds. In short, the sunset was a bust. Then it was time to get dressed for formal night. I posed for three pictures and then used one of my two for one drink coupons. Then I got in line to have my picture taken with the captain. I was the third or fourth person to have my picture taken with the captain and thus ended up on the DVD, so I paid the $30 for the DVD. After the introduction of the senior staff by the captain, it was time for dinner. I had the chicken salad with apple slices and walnuts as an appetizer and ravioli with shrimp as the main course. Both were very good. After dinner I decided to just go back to the cabin, upload my photographs and work on this. It is now a little after midnight and I am going to be swimming with a manatee in about ten hours. So until later today, good night.Monday, March 4 -- Cozumel It is 5:30am and even though the sun will not rise for half an hour, I can already tell sunrise will be a bust. Not only are there no clouds overhead, but just to make sure, there are clouds on the horizon. Sunrise is shortly after 6am. We are scheduled to arrive at 7am, which is fairly early. But in the distance I can see a Disney ship already docked. Docked at 6am -- that is really early. It occurs to me that this is the fourth time I have been to Cozumel and all four times on Royal Caribbean. Tomorrow it will be the fifth time I have been to Grand Cayman and that has been on three different lines (Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean). It is 7:10am and the captain says we have been cleared to go ashore. The current temperature is 68 degrees and is expected to rise to 79 degrees later today. At 8:20am the Carnival Dream showed up. Given the time, it is time for me to get ready to go ashore, but first a quick breakfast. I just grab a couple of slices of ham and a banana and eat in the Windjammer as I am a bit behind schedule. In August 2004 I was aboard the Navigator of the Seas and I took a ship sponsored excursion to Chankanaab Park to swim with a dolphin. While there we were offered the chance to swim with a seal for only $59 more, which I took advantage of. Today I took an independent tour to Chankanaab Park to swim with a manatee. It cost $50.15 online. The taxi from the International pier (where we docked) to Chankanaab Park is $11 each way (if you have five it is $16 for the group or $3.20 each). I didn't think the cost of the swim included admission to the park, but they let me in for free, so I guess it did. While the dolphin swim is usually a group of ten people with one dolphin, there were only three of us (all from this ship) swimming with two manatees. A word of caution, don't go swimming near manatees with your salad, because they eat lettuce -- lots of it. It was great. Swimming with the dolphins is very popular and a lot of fun, but so was swimming with the manatees and we got a lot more inaction with the manatees than one gets with the dolphins (though the manatees will not pull you through the water like the dolphins do). Unfortunately they don't allow cameras any more (I had a water proof camera with me in 2004 and still bought the video and the pictures). The pictures are one for $35 or all of them (in my case 41 of them) for $79 on a CD (there was no video). I bought two pictures and saved a whole nine dollars. Okay, not really, I bought all 41 of the pictures. Before swimming with the manatee I took ten pictures with my waterproof camera at Chankanaab Park. After swimming with the manatee the camera stopped working (oh ship!). I recharged the battery back on the ship, but the camera still did not work (double oh ship!!). There is no evidence of water intrusion in the camera, so I'll have to get the camera checked out when I return home. This will make swimming with the turtles tomorrow less fun, but life has its ups and downs, even when one is on vacation. At least it is not as bad as forgetting to make sure there is a memory card in the camera. Oh wait a minute, what am I saying, it is worse -- much worse and a lot more costly. And, I did it again today when I was running around the ship taking pictures of the other ships docked in Cozumel -- I left the memory card in the computer again. The only difference is I had my camera bag with me, which means I had all the spare memory cards with me. And while running around I stopped for some of the free ice cream available on deck eleven. There is also a Ben and Jerry's on deck five, but that ice cream cost extra. While enjoying my ice cream I ran into one of my group mates. He went scuba diving today. In between running around the ship and swimming around Chankanaab Park I took a short nap. The sun is a little stronger here, especially since there are no clouds in the sky. We departed right on time, so I guess everyone made it onboard, as I didn't hear any names called. We are moving our clocks ahead one hour so that the ship's time will be the same as the local time. At 4:45pm we had the welcome back party. I told the captain that he could save a few hours if he cut a few corners on the Mississippi River. He said there weren't too many corners that could be cut. I said, well, if you are going fast enough and you build a ski ramp -- he laughed. I bought four pictures today, all eight by ten at $16 each. I think the price of the eight by ten photographs has gone down a little bit (I think they used to be over $20 each). Fortunately, as part of the group booking I received a $100 on board credit (OBC). It is about time for me to create a spreadsheet to keep tract of my spending. Yes, this information is available on the TV, but I also use it when I am filling out my custom's form. And for those that are interested, I have uploaded over 1200 photographs to my computer taking up over 6.6 gigabytes of disc space so far. Tuesday, March 05, 2013 -- Grand Cayman I am up in time for sunrise. Good cloud cover overhead. It is looking good. Oh no, we are headed directly into the sun. So I head up to deck twelve. Even worse, there are clouds on the horizon. So I go down to deck five and then to the helicopter pad for a good forward view. It is windy but nothing I cannot handle. Unfortunately the clouds at the horizon are getting worse (we are moving, so things change). I take a few pictures and a couple of short videos, but nothing worth writing home about. But all is not a total loss, as hardly anyone is up (we lost an hour this morning changing to local time Eastern Standard Time) and the Royal Promenade is empty which makes for good picture taking. The only problem is the firewall above the bridge over the Royal Promenade is closed for some reason. So photographs from the forward end of the Royal Promenade are worthless. However, I get a few good photographs from the aft end of the Royal Promenade. Then I put away my camera and head over to the Windjammer for some take out breakfast, which I enjoy on my balcony. I grab a couple of pre-made omelets, assorted meats, some cheese and a banana. The sign for the ham and cheese omelets and the sign for the vegetable omelets are reversed. I tell them and they switch the signs. It is now almost 8am and we are two miles from land, though once again that is straight down. At our current speed of 17.7 knots (about 20 MPH) and the captain's estimate (from yesterday) that we will arrive at 9:45am, I would guess that we are about thirty miles from Grand Cayman. I've decided to give my Wow card to Sandeep, our waiter. He makes dinner feel special. Well, we are a few minutes late, however, we are the only ship in town today. Two other ships were supposed to be here, but cancelled due to the swells. What swells??? I've seen bigger waves in a swimming pool. The tender ships are the local tenders that hold at least twice as many as the ship's tenders. According to the captain the temperature will be in the upper seventies. We are using a different tender dock than I am used to. We are using the one closer to the middle of town. I went up on deck to photograph the other ships before the captain said there weren't any (he was right). It is strange, we are floating above half mile deep water, yet a quarter mile in front of us is dry land. Grand Cayman is basically the top of a rather steep mountain. My plan is to wait a bit for the tender crowd to thin out, then take a taxi to Boatswains Beach (aka the Turtle Farm), spend two to three hours at the park, then do some shopping in town and catch a tender back to the ship before the big crowds start to appear at the tender dock at the end of the day. Well, I'm back and I learned a lesson in independent shore excursions. Sometimes the ship's excursions are a better deal because of quantity. The admission to the Turtle Farm, online, was $36. I simply decided that I would take a taxi there and back. So when I got off the tender I went looking for a taxi. I found several. None were all too happy to take one person one way, all the way, to the Turtle Farm and all wanted $30, each way. That would bring the total cost of the trip to $100. Fortunately for me, the Turtle Farm had some issue with my credit card and the charge did not go through. So by not going I lost nothing. So I did a little shopping and on the way back to the tender dock was offered a tour for $15. $15 for a tour - that is not a bad deal. Lesson number two, tour operators like to fill up their bus. So I had to wait fifteen minutes until she found others to go, that was not a big deal. As we walked to the van I stayed at the end, hoping to get the front seat. It looked good until right at the van she found two more people. The front seat holds two and she gave the front seat to the two new people. Then she made some five year old sit on his parent's lap so I could have his seat. I didn't like taking the kid's seat and I told him I was sorry. He didn't seem upset by what had happened, but I still did not feel it was right. I decided I would buy him some small gift to make amends. Our first stop was Hell. If you are not familiar with Grand Cayman, there really is a town, with a post office, called Hell. I have never been there before, and see no reason to ever go back. The best part of Hell (in my opinion) is that you can buy cold water and shirts that say things like I've been to Hell and back. I bought one of each (cold water and a shirt that has the word Hell on it). However, there was nothing suitable for a five year old stranger. Our next stop was, are you ready for this, the Turtle Farm. All we had to do was tell them we were in Chocolate's taxi and we could get a limited admission for $10. By limited I mean there were places in the park we could not go. Basically we were limited to the turtle tanks and we were only there for thirty minutes. But still, what was $100 was now only $25 ($15 tour plus $10 admission). That is when I realized that two things were happening here. The Turtle Farm is near the hotel area. So they get lots of tourists. They charge the tourists full price. But they also get a lot of quantity business from the tours, so they charge the tour operators a reduced price. As for the tour operators, they make their profit off of the quantity. If a taxi can make a profit taking one person there and back for $60, then a tour operator can make a bigger profit by taking thirteen people there and back even if only $6.00 is allocated to transportation. At the Turtle Farm you can buy Turtle Food (it looks like dog kibble and no, I didn't taste it) for $5.00 for a small bag. Perfect. I gave the kid half my bag. He was happy, his parents were happy, and even though I never wanted to take his seat, I was now happy besides, I wasn't really all that interested in feeding the turtles). Everybody wins. The tour had all the quality you would expect from a $15 tour. However, it was worth $15, so I am not complaining. Next time I come here by cruise ship, I'll likely just take a ship's tour. But now at least I can honestly say I've been to Hell. On the way back to the ship, on the tender, something strange happened. I had my SeaPass card in my shirt pocket. It is a typical shirt pocket that opens on the top. To the best of my knowledge gravity was working properly at the time, yet somehow the card few out of my pocket. Fortunately it landed on the tender and someone saw it happen and alerted me to it (I did not know my card flew out of my pocket). Now that I know what happened, I still don't know how it happened. While on the tour I learned that yesterday the wind was really blowing hard and no ships stopped. I now realize that the other two ships were probably due in Grand Cayman early and that at that time the weather may have been worse, so they chose to cancel the port stop. We arrived later after things had calmed down a bit and we were able to enjoy our day at Grand Cayman. Back on board I decided to shower and rest up after having spent quite a few hours in the sun (and fifteen minutes in Hell -- sorry, I couldn't resist). The captain made an announcement at 5:30pm that the last of the passengers were on the final tender and that after offloading a medical emergency (the second one of the day) we would be off. Hopefully those people will make a full recovery and hopefully they have insurance to cover the cost of the medical care, their lost vacation and the cost of the flight home (and a passport so that they can fly home). After the captain's announcement I decided to get some ice cream and a snack. The ice cream was no problem, but the Windjammer didn't reopen until 6:00pm, so I went to Johnny Rockets for a snack. I thought Royal Caribbean was only charging for the shakes, however, my hamburger and fries and shake cost $11. $5.20 for the shake and $4.95 as a cover charge (plus tip of course -- which I added an extra dollar to). But hey, at least the hamburger and fries were free. Well, it is twenty minutes to dinner, so I'll catch you after dinner. I was on deck ready for a great sunset. Unfortunately we were moving and as I said before, when you are moving things can change. By the time the sun was at the horizon it was now behind some thick clouds. In fact, one person who was also looking to photograph the sunset had turned away to speak to his friends and had to be told where the sun was, that is how think the clouds had become in less than fifteen minutes. On Sunday we had taken a group picture. The picture was supposed to be ready on Tuesday. However, after asking to see the picture before dinner, the picture could not be found. The photography staff agreed to look while I was at dinner. After dinner the picture still had not been located. The woman I was speaking to wrote something up and said I could see the picture after 7pm the next day. There were only two of us at dinner, as most of our table had chosen that night to go to Chops because someone who had been on this cruise earlier had said that Tuesday dinner was the weakest of the week. So the two of us had a nice talk and a quick dinner. I wasn't very hungry, so all I had was a couple of beef sliders, which is basically a small hamburger with a small premium beef patty, and ice cream. After dinner I was very tired and lay down for a little rest before working on this. Around 11pm I woke up and realizing that I was still tired just decided to go to sleep and work on this the next morning. Wednesday, March 06, 2013 -- Falmouth, Jamaica The captain said that we would back in. I thought that mean we would spin before docking. But instead we spun before backing down a fairly narrow channel. We docked with my balcony facing the dock and the village created by Royal Caribbean. So I was at the back of the ship taking pictures of the dock as we approached the pier. The Freedom of the Seas arrived soon after us. Per the captain, we can expect temperatures between the upper seventies and lower eighties. We are also warned that the crew is having a safety drill and that the passengers should ignore the call to muster stations and other safety drill related announcements. I have my only ship sponsored shore excursion (Jamaica Swamp Safari Village) that meets on land at 10:15am, so I am in no rush. I go back to the cabin to upload the photographs, work on this and back everything up. Then I shower, dress and grab a banana for breakfast. I head down to the dock to explore the village on my way to where the tour meets. I pose for my only gangplank photo and the woman who I spoke to last night about the missing group photo is there and informs me that the group photo book has been found. The village is a really neat area with all the usual trappings (Diamonds International, Tanzanite International, Del Sol, hair braiding ...). However, the prices are high, which leads me to wonder what percentage of each sale goes to Royal Caribbean. Also, the tax rate is something else. I bought a hot dog for $5 and with tax it came to $6 (that is 20%). However, that was a cash transaction. Based on a printed credit card receipt I have, a $5.15 drink includes an eight-five cent GCT tax. That comes to 16.5%, which is double the sales tax I pay living in Los Angeles. I am going to the Swamp Safari Village. I signed up for the tour a while ago and don't remember exactly what it is, but I do remember it sounded interesting. It turns out to be a place crocodiles are brought to when they are captured after threatening people or pets. There is also a bird aviary, snakes and rodents, but mostly crocodiles. It is also the place where the famous crocodile-jumping scene in Live and Let Die (James Bond) was shot. They also have a pet baby goat named shampoo which follows the person who gave him his milk around just like a little puppy. That was an enjoyable tour. It gets my recommendation. To get back into the village next to the ship every single one of us, while still on the bus, had to show our room key. Yet I am surprised to find at least two school groups inside enjoying the day. I have no problem with it, but if it is only for cruise ship passengers, then why are non-cruise ship passengers allowed in? At any rate I decide to enjoy some jerk chicken at the Spice Chicken and Bar (the only restaurant I saw inside the fenced in area). Back on the ship I decide to shower rest and work on this, except I get wrapped up in a couple of programs on the TV and don't get much of this done. Before dinner I go get the group picture before they lose it again. At dinner the other table is empty (tonight they all went to Chops). If I recall correctly, our group has one first seating table and three second seating tables, all next to each other. I ask for an appetizer portion of the pasta and order another steak from Chops (which cost less this time as I don't have to pay the Louisiana sales tax). However, I ended up with the full dinner portion of the pasta. In addition I used another one of my two for one drink coupons. After dinner I head back to work on this, upload my pictures and back everything up. We are moving our clocks back one hour (back to central time) tomorrow morning. I also check out the movie offerings on the TV and find one I might watch on Friday. Thursday, March 07, 2013 -- Day at Sea Today is a nice relaxing day at sea. My plans are to leaving the cabin long enough for the room steward to do his thing, attend the Captain's Corner at 1pm, do a little swimming and attend a Top Tier event (which I assume is for Diamond and up). Diamond members also get invited to a behind the scenes chit-chat with the entertainers. I did that on the Enchantment (where I was Emerald) and didn't find it all that interesting. I'm waiting until I make Diamond Plus and then get invited to a bridge tour. Also, tonight is the second formal night. I'm up in time for sunrise but can see that there are clouds on the horizon, so I never leave the cabin. Later in the morning I shower and dress, then go to breakfast. I don't bring breakfast back to the cabin so that I am not interfering with the cabin steward. After breakfast I run around taking more pictures hoping to kill an hour before returning to the cabin. My plan works and when I return to the cabin the cabin steward has finished his work. I upload the pictures, work on this and soon it is time for the Captain's Corner. I didn't take notes, but I did ask a couple of questions and I remember one other question that was asked of the captain, who was the only one there (usually the hotel manager, ship's engineer or cruise director also attend). I asked about the vacation schedule of the lower ranking navigation officers. We all know the captain only works 50% of the year and that the rest of the crew works sixty-seven to seventy-five percent of the year. But nobody ever mentioned what the lower ranking navigation officers' schedule was. They also work 50% of the time and I was surprised to learn that there are more than one first officer and second officer aboard this ship. I also asked about the clearance when turning in the river (when leaving the Port of New Orleans) and when passing the other two cruise ships. The captain said that there was about 45 feet of clearance in back and about 400 feet in front when he spun the ship before leaving New Orleans. He says you always want to leave lots of room in front just in case you have to get going in a hurry. He said there was 400 feet of clearance between the Carnival Conquest and our ship, and slightly less between the NCL ship and our ship. The other question I remember was about what was learned from the recent Carnival problems. The captain said the report on the Triumph fire is not out yet. As to the Splendor he said that the Carnival ships and the Royal Caribbean ships are built differently. That the Carnival ships have one breaker box while Royal Caribbean ships have two, so that if a Royal Caribbean ship loses one breaker box for whatever reason, the ship will still have half it power available. That sounds like something that should be a requirement on all new builds (in my opinion). After the captain's corner I asked him if he knew the name of the NCL ship. He said it was the Sky or Star. I've been on the Star and it was not the Star. However, someone else said it was the Spirit and that is a possibility. It is either the NCL Sky or the NCL Spirit, but I don't know which. After that I went swimming. The pools were less crowded than I would have expected. However, the weather is nice, not hot, so that may have something to do with why there were not more people in the pool. After swimming I showered, uploaded the pictures, brought this up-to-date and checked my account balance against my own records. Oops, there is an error. I've been charged for two gratuities today. Down to guest services to have that corrected. I am told that that the extra gratuity is tomorrow's gratuity and that I will not be billed for a gratuity tomorrow (we will see about that). There was a sunset worth photographing today. There were some clouds on the horizon but not enough to totally block the sun, so finally something worth photographing. And the best part was I never had to leave my balcony. Well, time to get ready for tonight, so I'll see you after dinner. Well, the "Top Tier" event was for platinum and above. That is not so "Top Tier" since platinum is the second lowest tier (just above gold which is the lowest tier). Nothing unusual, though the captain did recognize me (I guess I asked too many questions at the Captain's Corner). Still, it was nice event. Afterwards I posed for four pictures wearing my red Caribbean shirt from Hell (the word Hell was covered up by my jacket). Then for dinner I had the pasta as an appetizer (and this time it was an appetizer portion) and prime rib as the main course. Both were very good. In fact, I would have to say that the meals I have had this week are the best I have had on Royal Caribbean and up there with the best I have had on any of my cruises. So, I'm back in the cabin now updating this and uploading my photographs (including some food porn from last night and tonight), and updating my spreadsheet with the all the spending I have done (I also used the last of my two for one drink coupons). Tomorrow I've got a group golf tournament at 10am and a garbage pail party at 3:30pm (I have no idea what that is) and unfortunately I also have to pack. So until tomorrow morning, good night. For those that are interested, I have uploaded over 2300 photographs taking up 12.5 gigabytes of space. This review is currently over nine thousand words taking up sixteen single spaced type written pages. Friday, March 8, 2013 -- Day at Sea Once again I am up in time for a sunrise photo (but only by a few minutes). I look outside and realized that there are clouds on the horizon, so I don't bother dressing to go out on deck (my balcony faces west during the trip back to New Orleans). However, I did shower, dress and eat breakfast in time to join the group's golf tournament on deck thirteen. Then back to the cabin to drop off a few things. I've been out of the cabin for ninety minutes but the cabin steward has not arrived yet. Fortunately I want to look at yesterday's formal photographs and get my DVD and CD. When I got to the photo area I saw a sign that because of the Louisiana tax, the photo shop will close at 8:30pm tonight. The captain said that we would pick up the pilot at 10pm and would pick up the river pilot when we enter the Mississippi River at midnight. When I return to the cabin with four more photographs the cabin steward was just finishing up. It is time to start organizing my packing. I don't have a scale with me and I was up to 43 pounds when I flew to New Orleans. I am leaving my old dress shoes, so that will save a few pounds and I put some of the heavier things I have purchased in my carry-ons. I also check out the debarkation video, upload some photographs, work on this a bit and watch a movie. Soon it is time for the garbage pail party. It is simply a final get together where everyone brings their left over drinks (thus the name). These are a great bunch of people and I am glad I had a chance to meet them all. Back at the cabin I upload my new photos, work on this and checkout the sunset from my balcony. Finally, no clouds on the horizon. However, there were some very low clouds overhead, which kept it from being perfect. Still, it was the best sunset of the week. Well, here we are on the last full day and I realize that I have not really described my cabin. I am in a junior suit on the "hump". I am not in the center of the hump because I wanted a forward facing cabin. So I am in the cabin next to the center, which faces slightly forward. Inside the cabin there is a couch and a stuffed chair with a matching ottoman. In addition there is a small glass table. Otherwise it is a wider balcony cabin with a tub shower and a walk-in closet. It is probably about three feet winder than a normal balcony cabin. There is a post between the sliding door and a smaller floor to ceiling window which would provide a perfect hiding place for a three year old. It is a very nice cabin that would be roomy enough for three or four people (even though this cabin only holds two). I fill out the survey and the custom's form. Waiting for the time to go to dinner my room steward knocks on the door. Doesn't he know I have late dining by now? Also, I have used the make up my room card every single time. So why is the room steward knocking on my door before 8pm? Well, dinner was bitter sweat. Dinner was good as usual for this cruise, but I ended up saying good-bye to new friends, both the group and the waiter. For the first time a group cruise I was on when off with no problems. Two group cruises ago our leader suddenly disappeared (really, no one in the group knew where he was or how to contact him). If that wasn't bad enough, the last group cruise I was on, the leader died before the cruise. This was a good group cruise and I'm glad I had the chance to meet everybody. That said, the cruise was really good - one of my favorites. It certainly made up for a much weaker cruise experience on my last cruise. We left one day late and thus only went to one port instead of two. It wasn't a bad cruise, but it sure did not match the enjoyment of this cruise. I would like to cruise out of New Orleans again in the summer when I will be able to see more of the Mississippi River. Also, I sure would not mind cruising out of New Orleans again. This is one of the more interesting cities to visit and cruise out of. After dinner I went back to the cabin, changed my clothes and put my luggage out to be picked up. I noticed it was 10pm so I looked outside and it did appear that we had slowed down. I checked the TV and sure enough we had slowed down. I went back outside just in time to see the pilot boat take off. I'll try to stay awake long enough to see us enter the Mississippi River. I must also say that our captain was a great person. I assume all captains know what they are doing and do it well. But a captain with a personality like Claus Andersen (our captain) can add to the cruise experience, and he did in a very positive way. Saturday, March 9, 2013 As promised by the captain, we dock at 6am. The Carnival Elation docks in front of us at 7am. I shower and dress and head out for a quick breakfast consisting of a banana and orange juice. Then back to the cabin and over to the Schooner Bar which is the meeting place for those of us taking the City Tour to the airport. Given that there were five busloads of people on this tour, the Schooner Bar was a poor choice for a meeting place. The Ixtapa Lounge, which is right next door, would have been a much better choice. Departure numbers seven and eight were for the shore excursion people. When it came time to debark they called numbers one through twelve. Instantly the situation when from controlled to messy, as one third of the ship suddenly tries to debark at the same time. Why give out numbers if you are going to send more than one thousand people on their way all at the same time? Since we were right next to the exit door we were in the front of the instantly long line. I took this tour not so much because it was interesting, but rather because it would chew up a few hours of time and get me to the airport for half the price of a rental car for the day. Thanks to the traffic I barely made it with seven hours to spare. I spent the first three and half hours inside the airport pre-check in on a nice comfortable couch going through my pictures because I don't think you can check in more than four hours early. Besides since New Orleans was kind enough to supply such a comfortable place to relax, I thought it would rude not to take advantage of it. From where I was sitting I had a clear view of the check in line and thus was able to go check in when the line was very short, like no waiting at all. The security line was less than five minutes and I found a restaurant to sit down and enjoy an early dinner. Originally I was on a 3:45pm flight that went to San Francisco and then I would change planes to get to LAX. However, United cancelled that flight and this one became available. It leaves four hours later, but I only arrive home one hour later because this is a non-stop. I wonder how we exit the plane if it doesn't stop? Do they fly low and just push us out the door? What about the luggage? Well I guess I'll find out soon enough. At any rate I decide to check on the status of my plane. It is on time, but it is coming from Houston. I realize it will not take seven hours from Houston, but United is kind enough to provide the flight number, so I can check on its status. The plane left San Francisco a few minutes early and is heading to Houston, so it is looking good. So now I am inside the secure area at a restaurant. This time my right leg (and the rest of my body), made it through the security check point without any problems. I decided to try the short ribs (and they sure are short). It comes with some small cut up potatoes and other equally small purple things. I pass on the potatoes and purple things. While waiting for my meal to arrive I decide to check on the status of my flight again. Now it is a half hour late. What happened? I check the status and it is still a flight from Houston, but now it is coming from Mexico, not San Francisco and is arriving in Houston seventy minutes late. Oh well, better to have this happen on the inbound flight than on the outbound flight (which was on time). The ribs and pretzel (which I picked up on the way to the restaurant) were okay. But the tax rate of $2.25 for a $19.60 meal works out to 11.5% (about three percentage points more than I pay in Los Angeles). Well, since I am done with my meal and it is not fair to continue to take up a table, I decide to head over to gate. I hope I can make it in time (the plane hasn't left Houston yet). Well I'm at the gate now and there is a very long line. Why, because the plane to Washington DC is running fifteen minutes late. Why then do half the people need to make other arrangements? Fifteen minutes is no big deal. Meanwhile my plane has not landed in Houston yet. Well, it is 6:15pm and the plane just landed in Houston. Someone just made an announcement that the plane will be more than thirty minutes late. If we cannot make our connection in Los Angeles, United will pay for a hotel for the night. I'm only worried about a share the ride van. Hopefully they keep track of the flights and know that the flight is running late. Well, back to proof reading, though I usually only catch about 80% of the errors because it is very hard to proof read your own writing. It is 7:35pm and the plane is on the ground here in New Orleans. Per the schedule we should have taken off two minutes ago. So far I have proof read half of this review (which is over eleven thousand words and 22 single spaced type written pages). So I'll be back at you after I get home. The flight home was uneventful. The movie was Skyfall, which is the latest James Bond flick. After the move I finished proof reading this. I hope I caught all the errors, but most likely I didn't. At any rate we landed about thirty minutes behind schedule. I get my checked bag and have to wait about fifteen minutes for the van to show up. One more lap around LAX with no new customers we are off. There are only two of us and I am the second one dropped off. I made it home around midnight. In summary this was a very enjoyable and much needed vacation. It is simply one person's account of one cruise. Soon the Navigator of the Seas will head back to Europe. It will be replaced by the Serenade of the Seas, which is a different class of ship (the Radiance class which is about two thirds the size of the Navigator OTS). I enjoy writing the review and taking the pictures. Hopefully someone will find something useful and/or helpful in this review. So, until my next cruise, good-by and good night. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
We flew into New Orleans the night before the cruise left. Stayed at an Airport Hotel and then had a taxi pick us up and take us straight to the cruiseport. Getting onto the ship was a breeze (platinum class helps) and then we took our ... Read More
We flew into New Orleans the night before the cruise left. Stayed at an Airport Hotel and then had a taxi pick us up and take us straight to the cruiseport. Getting onto the ship was a breeze (platinum class helps) and then we took our first time cruiser on a quick tour of the Navigator of the Seas. This was our third trip on a Voyager class ship so began to feel like we knew our way around. The ship was pretty much full and to our dismay we realized we were on a Spring Break Cruise (forgot to check the dates for all 50 states). For the most part it wasn't a big deal but we did find that many parents allowed their children to run wild throughout the cruise. More on this later. First port was Cozumel and we had a catamaran snorkel and beach adventure planned. Loved the snorkeling could have done without the beach but then I really dislike sand unless I can get it off me immediately. Wild lunch at Senor Frog's won't repeat that experience either. No wonder some people weren't feeling well the next day -- definitely symptoms of the Cozumel Flu. Next day was Georgetown - Grand Cayman Island. LOVED LOVED the double snorkeling adventure on the catamaran could repeat that over and over again. Nothing bad to say at all about Georgetown except our stay was too short. Falmouth Jamaica was the last port. Our original excursion was cancelled so we picked a similar tour, it was ok. We were just dropped off in the middle of Montego Bay and forced to walk past all the shops then hang out in Margaritaville for two hours (better than Senor Frog's at least). Back to two days at sea. I have never experienced such a crowded deck in our previous cruises. To my knowledge I didn't see anyone enforcing the 30 minutes rule on the deck chairs. With the ship so full and so many children (18 and under) on the cruise we did try to find some quiet spots. Several times we made the library our meeting place with our friend and rarely was it treated like a library with some of the families. Children thundered through constantly treating the library like a playground. Then the families that decided it was a great place to play noisy games made it very annoying. I will say on our previous cruises nothing annoyed us like the lack of respect by these young people for the library and even the business centre. I admire the entire crew on these ships but their lack of enforcing some of the rules can be aggravating sometimes. Overall we enjoyed the cruise, loved our wait staff on our My Time dining. Our cabin steward was good but I am guessing their workload as increased because we rarely see our cabin stewards -- I used to love getting to know them. We dined one evening at Portofino and it was fabulous. Our other usual treat is a meal at Johnny Rockets -- my husband looks forward to that meal more than any other on any ship. We just know now to avoid the Caribbean between middle of February to April, maybe next time try another cruiseline to avoid the kids. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
We took a cruise with my girl scouts. This was their reward for saving up all that cookie money over the years. So you had four moms and four late teen girls traveling together. We were in 3 interior cabins with the girls all in one room. ... Read More
We took a cruise with my girl scouts. This was their reward for saving up all that cookie money over the years. So you had four moms and four late teen girls traveling together. We were in 3 interior cabins with the girls all in one room. The cabin was surprisingly spacious and comfortable for two adults, but did get cramped for four girls. There really wasn't enough closet space for them, but that's to be expected in all honesty. The nightly dining was delicious and it was fun to have eight people ordering so we all got a sampling of nearly everything on the menu. We did have one vegetarian in the party and her choices were limited. The ice skating show was the best show of all of them, though the comedian was quite good. We played a lot of bingo and enjoyed the karaoke, and we all actually got up and sang. The girls were a little disappointed in the "teen" options, probably because they were just shy of 18 and felt too old for the most part, but were too young for the adult disco. We could have stayed on the ship, there was so much to do, but we had to investigate the ports of call. It is cheaper to tour on your own, but since it was just us "girls" I was more comfortable booking the excursions and it worked out very well for us because the girls could stick together with only a single chaperone, while the moms were able to get away to other, adult excursions. Cozumel, Mexico: The girls chose to swim with the dolphins and the stingrays and had a blast. They were able to spend time on the beach as well as shop and delighted in the freedom they had to barter and buy alcohol as they were over the drinking age in Mexico. We took the Salsa, Salsa, Salsa "class" which was a hoot. We were beach side, with a great view of the Caribbean, ocean breezes blowing in our little covered balcony while we learned to make margaritas, salsas, and salsa dance. Great fun. Georgetown, Grand Cayman: We took a drive it ourselves, jeep tour around Georgetown. We got to explore the area, visit a preserve and dip our toes in the pristine beach, visit the Rum Cake Factory and even go to Hell, ending up on the beach for an hour or so. It was fun to drive on the wrong side of the road (for us Americans) and our guides were great guys from Jamaica. Highly recommended. Falmouth, Jamaica: We did the river tubing and beach excursion. It claims to be more strenuous than it really is. You walk a little ways while carrying your tube, but you're fitted with a helmet and life vest (the helmet was completely unnecessary) and the floating is very serene with a few "rapids", then you take a powered raft to a beach which was beautiful, perfect sands and water and very uncrowded. It even had a stand for beer and jerk chicken, which was delicious. All in all this was a great experience. It was great to leave from New Orleans because we'd never been there, either, so we toured Bourbon Street before left. I'm considering doing it again, taking my husband this time.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
Let me preface this with we may be spoiled..... This was our 8th cruise all with RCC. This was the first one out of NOLA and we also brought along two other couples, one being first time cruisers. We are early 40's and love cruising. ... Read More
Let me preface this with we may be spoiled..... This was our 8th cruise all with RCC. This was the first one out of NOLA and we also brought along two other couples, one being first time cruisers. We are early 40's and love cruising. We have always chosen RCC because we have had great experiences. I honestly believe we are going to check out other cruise lines just to see what they offer. We arrived to NOLA by car on Friday, Feb 22nd. We had a stay and cruise package with Holiday Inn West Bank Tower and it was fine. We arrived to the port about noon and made it onto the ship within about 20 minutes. It was cold and drizzly outside. (Boo) Overall the cruise was fine. Not good, not bad. Let me try to explain...food was good, not great, not bad. Portofino was FANTASTIC and Peter was great. Chops was excellent and Marco was Spectacular. The Mud Pie was Amazing. These two experiences were worth the extra money and made us feel special. Marco and Peter made our sailing memorable. The shows were ok, not great. The singers and dancers were ehh ok, nothing memorable. Simona the cruise director was very forgettable. I believe she is Italian (not sure) but the game shows were not so funny due to the language barrier and lack of pizazz. The ice show was good, but not sure about the intro or how it ties to any kind of story. Overall the entertainment was disappointing. That is sort of how the whole cruise was. Nothing special. The entire cruise just lacked energy. I will say the sanitize, sanitize, sanitize guy in the Windjammer seemed happy and tried to entertain.... Every previous cruise had memorable experiences that made us feel like we were a part of something special. This cruise felt worn out and forgettable. The special touches like towel animals every night in your room has gone by the wayside. (We had 2 over the course of the cruise). You now must ask for ice and the one that still has me irked is the new ppd gratuity policy. We don't mind prepaying as we have every cruise, but now you get envelopes but no coupons to put in them. I went to the guest relations desk and asked for the coupons when I was told that coupons are no longer. I asked why the envelopes and was told for additional gratuities for the room attendant, and wait staff. I'm irked because it was so Very uncomfortable. Now you have nothing to hand your wait staff unless you "want" to give more. Not cool at all. So if we give extra we make others at our table feel cheap...if we don't give extra we feel cheap. AWKWARD. I am not against the ppd plan, just give us the coupons or DON'T give us the envelopes. Overall the cruise was bland and average. We want something more than that. That is the reason we chose RCC and have never strayed. I no longer feel that others would probably disappoint after returning today. I am left feeling like perhaps we should have tried another cruise line or even a different vacation all together. I'm just perplexed and disappointed. I feel like a customer, but not really a guest Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
My husband and I sailed on the Navigator of the Seas from New Orleans on Feb. 2nd. By and large, this was a wonderful vacation, and we will definitely cruise with RC again, but here are a few positives and negatives... Negatives New ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Navigator of the Seas from New Orleans on Feb. 2nd. By and large, this was a wonderful vacation, and we will definitely cruise with RC again, but here are a few positives and negatives... Negatives New Orleans port was insane. The cruise line had not arranged adequate parking since it was Super Bowl weekend. We waited in a line of cars for an hour and a half to check our baggage. Then we were sent to park, but there were no places in the lot that we were directed to. There was no one there who could help us. We were left frantically trying to park in time to actually board the ship even though we arrived two hours early. We ended up having to pay almost forty dollars/day to park in a private deck because there was no parking available through Royal Caribbean. Food - The food was just ok. The Windjammer was typical buffet style food with little variety day to day. The dining room was excellent once or twice through the week, good a couple of times, and unfortunately bad a couple of times as well. They had a couple of barbeques by the pool which were excellent. Excursion - We booked the river raft trip. The rafting itself was wonderful! However, it was one of those "hurry up and wait" kind of days. What was supposed to be a rafting/banana plantation tour was misrepresented. The "banana plantation" was about the size of my back yard. (We waited around for about an hour for this "tour".) Then we made an unscheduled shopping stop(I assume for some kind of kick back) that left us barely enough time to get back to the ship. Positives The staff of the ship was excellent. The shows were definitely above average for a cruise ship. The ice show was especially good. The room was very clean. The activities were good. The ship is beautiful and provided plenty of room so that we did not feel crowded at all. We arrived at our stops exactly on time. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
First of all, the best part of this cruise was New Orleans. It was the first time in NOLA for my daughter and I. We got in a day before the cruise and instantly fell in love with New Orleans. The Navigator looks good, most aspects are ... Read More
First of all, the best part of this cruise was New Orleans. It was the first time in NOLA for my daughter and I. We got in a day before the cruise and instantly fell in love with New Orleans. The Navigator looks good, most aspects are the same that we experienced on Carnival Victory and Princess. They did not have an outdoor movie screen which limited outdoor interest for me. I read that they will do a rehab of this ship by next year. I had read several reviews of this ship before and noticed that a smell in the hallways was included on most. Our room was on the 6th floor, it was a balcony room and we did not notice a sight but noticeable mildew smell in the hallways. The thing that bothered me most about this cruise was the habit of walking to your cabin during the day or night and finding large bags that may have contained laundry in the hallway. There were also vacuum cleaners left in the hallway and a machine that looked like some sort of fan. I know that the room stewards have to get rid of dirty laundry and clean the rooms, but I have never seen up to twelve or more huge red bags lined up against the wall for hours a day. Everyone has seen the little carts that are used to replenish toilet paper, soap, clean towels etc..., but these items were frequently in the hallway and it looked so tacky and low class. I will be very surprised if no one else mentions this. The food was o.k., just o.k. The service was great, everyone worked very hard to please. The Windjammer's food was routine and boring, it never changed. The quality was so-so. The "Jade Restaurant" is a joke. I love Asian food and looked forward to some good Asian food. Most of the time the space in Jade was taken up with American type foods. Occasionally there would be some fried rice or stir fry that was poorly prepared. All in all, We still had a good time overall despite my criticisms. I would not say however that Royal Caribbean has consistently high standards. I know that Carnival has issues with their ships, but their rooms are larger, the entertainment was better, and I didn't feel nickel a dimmed for gratuities on an ice cream cone after you've already been charged an extra 15% for it. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
While this was our eighteenth cruises, it was the first with our extended family consisting of five married children and their 15 children ranging in ages from 1 to 11 years. Overall the embarkation process was extremely smooth once in ... Read More
While this was our eighteenth cruises, it was the first with our extended family consisting of five married children and their 15 children ranging in ages from 1 to 11 years. Overall the embarkation process was extremely smooth once in the terminal. However, traffic around the port was terrible boarding on gridlock. We last cruised from New Orleans several years ago and felt the traffic situation deteriorated rather than improve. We had requested the early dining room seating. Prior to the cruise, seating for the group was arranged through travel agent. We had three tables on the outside edge of the dining room away from the flow of traffic and great for the children. We had two waiters assigned to our three tables. Both were great and extremely flexible in accommodating our needs. The supervisor of our waiters was particularly helpful in arranging for the needs of my daughter one year old child. RCCL originally told us they did not puree food for babies and that we could buy baby food on-board. However, every evening the wait staff supervisor served our baby a three course meal. We were not sure if it was processed baby food or pureed but the baby loved it. We were a little disappointed with the menu. RCCL recently introduced a new menu that offers escargot every night. However, escargot was never available. Our waiter told us that it has not been available due to a "world shortage" of snails. It must be a "world shortage" that is limited to RCCL! This was our first time visiting Jamaica. What a disappointment! The port that RCCL built in Falmouth is great but outside the boundary of the control port area is a nightmare. We only made it about a 100 yards beyond the fence. We were bombarded by locals selling, begging, harassing and just be annoying. We really felt unsafe and returned to the port. Disembarkation went smoothly until we got beyond security. The exit was on the opposite site of the terminal. We were herded down a corridor like cattle. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
This was a very relaxing cruise for us. Took a taxi to port at 10:30am and spent over 1/2 hr. stalled in traffic waiting in the terminal to be dropped off. Not fun. They could work on that. Once inside, it went fast, as we are Gold ... Read More
This was a very relaxing cruise for us. Took a taxi to port at 10:30am and spent over 1/2 hr. stalled in traffic waiting in the terminal to be dropped off. Not fun. They could work on that. Once inside, it went fast, as we are Gold members. No champagne welcome that we have been used to. It was cold so we just went to eat and get aquainted with the ship layout. Our luggage didn't get to our room until after 4, which is much longer than any of our other cruises. Our balcony room was very nice. LOVED LOVED LOVED the quality bedding! Like the rounded shower door as opposed to a shower curtain. Very clean room. Plenty of storage. Asked our room steward to have 4 towels each day and a bucket of ice. TV was old, and they were still showing a film telling about the largest ship, Freedom of the Seas, which is OLD (2006) news! Definitely not the largest ship now! The ship looked very good, and was sparkling, except for the carpet in the hallways. We had my time dining and ate at Chops the first night. Delicious! I had the filet mignon and it was amazing! The other nights, we were usually seated between 6 and 7. We carried on 2 bottles of wine and a corkscrew, so we took glasses of wine from our room to dinner. You can't take the bottle without paying extra. The food in the dining room was very good. We usually had 2 appetizers (soup, salad), entree and dessert. Very satisfied with it all. The lobster night (second formal night) was the largest we've ever had on a cruise! A treat! About the formal nights...most didn't really dress formal. You won't feel out of place if you like do formal, because there were some who did, but mostly it was just dressy, cocktail wear. Not all the men wore jackets. Ate breakfast, lunch and one dinner in the Windjammer. A little hard to find seating, but the food was always good. They have iced tea, lemonade and water, so we didn't buy the soda package. Desserts in the Windjammer were more "European" as in not real sweet. Made use of the ice cream machine often! Ate at Johnny Rockets once and most nights had a piece of pizza at the snack place on the promenade. DH appreciated that they always had a pitcher of milk out to go with the cookies! A plus to the Windjammer is the fella who welcomes you and "makes" you do the hand sanitizer! I didn't get his name but he was full of life! :D Don't miss the ice skating show! Very good! Went to a couple other shows...normal ship shows. Did a ballroom dance class, which was fun! Used the gym most days. Tip: we only take the elevators the first and last day with our luggage and always take the stairs the rest of the trip...a pretty good workout! We had lots of children on this cruise, which we think was due to vacation over Mardi Gras in New Orleans. They were all well behaved. Was actually fun to see many of them dressed up and eating dinner in the dining room! Enjoyed the 70s party in the promenade, as well as the Mardi Gras parade. Other times it is just fun to sit there and watch people! It's fun to shop the cheap stuff as well as the expensive. DH bought me a beautiful ring (from the expensive shop :)! Enjoyed browsing all the different stores. We thought the staff was very friendly and helpful. There were lots of hand santitzer stations that I saw many people use. No sickness on this ship as far as I know. Don't really know what we would add to make the ship or the cruise better. Just a very relaxing time and thoroughly enjoyable! 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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