73 New Orleans Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas Cruise Reviews

This is a review of the Navigator of the Seas, sailing date Nov 17, 2012. Our group was my wife, myself, our children (ages 20, 12, and 12) and my wife's (mid 70s) parents. As a general statement I believe the crew on any given ... Read More
This is a review of the Navigator of the Seas, sailing date Nov 17, 2012. Our group was my wife, myself, our children (ages 20, 12, and 12) and my wife's (mid 70s) parents. As a general statement I believe the crew on any given ship will make or break the entertainment value of the vacation. The crew on the Navigator just didn't seem to care and weren't trying to hide it. We are a pretty laid back, self-entertaining group and don't expect to be waited on hand and foot, so we can and did have a good time despite the crew. That said I could not in good conscience recommend this ship/itinerary to someone. I don't like reviews where someone just says a cruise or hotel room is bad or good. I need to know *why* you thought so. If I know the why then I can better determine if that would be good/bad for me. So I want to provide a review where I detail what was good/bad along with some of the 'why.' Boarding: We flew in the day before and spent the night at the Embassy SUites. At 12:30pm We walked the two blocks to the whale lot where there were porters loading luggage onto carts. There was a bit of confusion because some folks who were Carnival passengers were trying to give them luggage. Our bags were already tagged so it was a quick drop and go situation. The porters tagged you bags if you didn't already have them. Note that the Riverwalk access to the cruise ship walkway (it's still marked like that) is closed. The doors have a heavy chain and padlock on them. It's easy enough to walk in the street, about 1 block from the whale lot to the terminal. There was a police officer (where the port road turns onto Julia street) managing the vehicle and pedestrian traffic. At this point organization took a vacation. We didn't know it at the time but a lot of the embarkation problems were related to the fact that the Navigator had just come trans-atlantic. I was later told that because the ship was previously trans-atlantic and "new" to the port all the various authorities were being more detailed in checking things out. This applied not only to disembarking passengers, but also checking out the crew. (Imagine Coast Guard, and Immigration and CUstoms officers diligently following the rules.) I'm not saying anything is wrong with this, just making note that it cause a lot of confusion and delays. I hope this experience was not indicative of a normal boarding in NOLA, because it was hands down the worst I've experienced out of 7 cruises. I'll give an example: One RCL employee was telling embarking passengers to go back the other way because there were still 500 passengers from the previous cruise still disembarking. We ignored him along with a few others and asked a bit further down and another RCL employeed told us to continue ahead as they've been boarding passengers for the last hour. We then were able start the boarding process. Entertainment: Nightly shows: The dancing shows were fine. (Nothing spectacular or particulary impressive.) There were two different comedians which were both very good. There was a Platters group that was fantastic. Daily entertainment: Our group agreed that overall this was weak. This was compounded by the fact that the first two days were sea days. There was just very little going on those two days. This was especially disappointing to me since I enjoy having a drink on the pool deck and watching contests or listening to music. Two days at sea and the highlight of the pool deck was the ice cream machine. The bingo was run well The trivia and sudoku contests in the schooner bar were okay The movie selection in the theatre was geared towards a 20-40 crowd. I would liked to have enjoyed more movies there but the seats were were so incredibly uncomfortable I couldn't make myself go back. My father in law went once also and said it was like sitting on a board. Dining: MDR: The food was good, the service decent. Nothing spectacular. The service of course varies from table to table. For some odd reason they served the Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday night. Windjammer: Only once did I find the Windjammer crowded. It was a sea day right at noon. Any other time we have no trouble getting a table or having to wait in line for food. The food itself was fine and well kept up. The only issue I had with Windjammer was it closed at 9:30 pm every night. Which would not have been a problem except there were no late night buffets, so you were left with room service or the Cafe Promenade (See below.) Cafe Promenade: This place was just downright awful. I've seen it well done on the Freedom of the Seas, so I know it can be done. I was served the worst Starbucks latte I've ever had. I threw half of it away. The worst part though was the service. I'll give an example: There is a sign with the available kinds of pizza. (Only once was I ever there and they actually had all 3 kinds listed on the sign.) I asked the woman at the counter what kind of pizza they had since I could see there was only 1 pan under the heat lamp. She gave me a dirty look and gestured at the sign. So I play along and ask for pepperoni which was listed on the sign. She turned around and looked at the pan, turned back around and told me they only have cheese pizza. Which wouldn't be so bad except that cheese pizza wasn't one of the kinds listed on the sign. Bar Service: I've been on some ships where I felt like I was constantly getting mobbed by bar service folks. That was definitely not an issue on the Navigator. Soda Package: In my opinion, the soda package on the Navigator is a complete waste of money. They have apparently changed how this whole situation is handled because if you have the soda package you either get fountain soda or soda poured from a 2 liter bottle. The problem with the 2 liter bottles is every time I got it, it was flat. I'm convinced others figured this out as well which further aggravated the problem. What then happened is people would not get soda at the places that had the 2 liters which caused long lines at the other places. Most often those places were the bars, which then angered the bartenders and others waiting for alcoholic drinks. I honestly believe you could solve the issue by not having the bottles at all or marking them with a timestamp. Note that if you didn't have a soda package they would whip out a cold can of soda and provide glass. (I'm tempted to write letter to the Coca-Cola company about the issue.) I'm not sure I will ever buy the soda package on RCL again because of this. Wifi: This ship does not yet have wifi throughout the ship. I was able to get a very weak signal in our room on deck 9 forward but never enough to actually get a internet connection. I never had any trouble getting a connection on the pool deck, windjammer, royal promenade, or of course in the internet cafe. Teen club: My twins went to the 12-14 club and activities. My daughter didn't enjoy it and gave it up after the second day. My son kept going throughout the entire cruise. Most of the activities did seem more boy oriented. The only issue I had was once when I went to check on him in the teen club room. I stepped inside the room and the RCL woman freaked out and ran over at me. She kept telling me that I couldn't come in there. She wouldn't shut up so I started talking over her and said I came to check on my son. She kept saying I can come in there. I asked how to I get a hold of him, and she said I would have to talk to her and she could get him. I then asked how if she was also in the room how could get a hold of her without coming into the room? At that she stopped talking and just stood there with her mouth open like that had never occurred to her. By that time we had the attention of all the kids in the room. I just talked to my son quickly and then left. (I've never had a problem stepping into the room to get the attention of staff on the Carnival kids club.) Excursions: Our excursion in Grand Cayman was cancelled due to high wind. We had left early to catch the tender and shop a bit so we didn't find out it was cancelled until we were standing there waiting for the group to show. I did discover that the excursion desk had left a message on our room phone indicating the cancellation. So I give them props for trying to contact us. Disembarkation: It wasn't as bad as embarkation, but having been through many others this experience was consistent with rest of the voyage. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Embarking was HORRIBLE- parking directions from Royal Caribbean were wrong, then parking filled up. Traffic getting to parking was horrible. We walked in the doors of the terminal at 2 p.m. becuase RCI sent an email saying not to come ... Read More
Embarking was HORRIBLE- parking directions from Royal Caribbean were wrong, then parking filled up. Traffic getting to parking was horrible. We walked in the doors of the terminal at 2 p.m. becuase RCI sent an email saying not to come before 1:30 p.m. We waited 60 minutes in long line to get up to security which really wasn't that bad because the line was moving pretty frequently. But the real kicker was waiting ANOTHER 90 minutes in the security line after they split us from the main line and into one of five security lines. Our line just didn't move. Other people walked into the terminal building and right through security because they were directed to another line. We were just unlucky and the security personnel seemed oblivious to the problem. Because we were one of the final few to board the ship, it was pure chaos on the deck because people were mingling about after the security drill and no one provided us any direction as to what to do or where to go once we stepped aboard. We were so worn out by the process we skipped formal dinner, grabbed a bite in the Windjammer (yummy) and spent the evening settling in to our cabin. The rest of the cruise was wonderful, thank goodness. We were especially pleased with our cabin overlooking the Promenade. It would not be good for those who want to fall asleep early, though, as the sound from the evening's entertainment was pretty audible in our cabin. The upside was we could watch the parades and entertainment from our room. We were quite pleased with the wide variety of activities and entertainment on the ship. And the cruise director (Jimmy) and Activities Manager (Tom) and their staff were highly entertaining. Our first two days aboard were at sea and we were never at a loss of something to do. The ship was large, but not so large that you couldn't get to where you needed to be relatively quickly (if you didn't mind taking the stairs.) Main dining room was good, particularly at dinner. Though we were a little surprised to be seated with a large party of 10, seeing as it was just me and my husband. We figured they would sit us with other couples or smaller parties. Oh well, we had a great time. We did eat lunch one time in the main dining room and decided it was too slow of service and the food was not any better than the Windjammer Cafe. Windjammer Cafe had a lot of variety including plenty of healthy options and plenty of comfort food and sweets. The only downside was going during peak times meant it could be difficult to find the type of seat we preferred and the buffet lines could be a bit chaotic at times. We signed up for the Murder Mystery party in Portofino (specialty restaurant.) Well worth the $$$. Tons of fun and great menu! We were warned about Jamaica so we didn't have high expectations. Turned out to be our favorite port. We went on horseback ride and climbed Dunn River Falls through Yardie Tours which we booked through Cruises Only's Marriot Rewards web site. Grand Cayman was gorgeous - we did stingray city plus 2 snorkle stops with Captain Marvin's tours. Cozumel we took advise from Trip Advisor and hired a private taxi driver for the day who gave us a great tour of the island including a tour of a small chocolate factory and a tequila tour/tasting. Turned out to be an expensive day because we bought jewelry, chocolate, and tequila in addition to paying for 5 hours of a private taxi but it was nice to get out of the crowds. We look forward to our next cruise! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We booked a cruise from cheapcruises at the end of August for sailing immediately after Thanksgiving. When we booked the cruise, there was some back and forth e-mails with the agent. About a month before departure, we got an e-mail telling ... Read More
We booked a cruise from cheapcruises at the end of August for sailing immediately after Thanksgiving. When we booked the cruise, there was some back and forth e-mails with the agent. About a month before departure, we got an e-mail telling us we needed to preregister. I delayed acting on this e-mail because I was traveling for work, but registered about 7 days in advance. The website said we missed the 10-day cut off to have luggage tags mailed to us, but that a porter would help. (We later found that no one got luggage tags mailed to them regardless of how early you registered). Then about 3 days before the cruise, we realized we never received details on the cruise, no communication from RC what so ever. We are experienced cruisers, but wanted some specific details. My wife called the 1-800 number for RC and talked to a lady. We asked about the number of formal nights so we would know how to pack. The service lady told us that Navigator exclusively had "My Time" dining and that it was all casual. My wife asked that we had requested late dining and was told that no longer an option. The lady again confirmed there was no other option other than my time dining. We also asked if we could bring a bottle or two of wine. We were told that absolutely no alcohol or any beverages of any kind could be brought on board. We get to New Orleans and board the ship. As we were waiting in line to get our Sea Passes, we noticed another family with two large cases of water. Not sure if he made it on board, but we had already been though several checkpoints at that time. Anyway, we get on board. Since we don't normally spend much time in the stateroom, we normally just get inside staterooms on a lower deck. But, this ship had a promenade and we though we would give it a shot. We loved the room. Anytime, day or night you could look out and see people walking buy and enjoying drinks at the pub right below our windows. The artificial light in the promenade is matched to the real light outside. We thought it was really neat. The room is also the largest we have ever had with a 2 person loveseat in front of the window and a 2nd loveseat on the side of the room between the bed and the window. We were very impressed. One disappointment. New Orleans is quite a ways up the Mississippi river from the Gulf of Mexico. I think we spent about 6 hours each way cruising the Mississippi. All of the travel was at night. I think it would have been cool to see the cruise down the river. A summer cruise where the sun sets later would have allowed this, but in November, the sun set as we departed port. As we were sailing on the Mississippi, my wife was talking with another passenger and confirmed that traditional dinning was still available. She noted on our Sea Pass, that we did indeed have late dining and pointed out our table number. So, at this point we knew, the 2 formal night would be enjoyed in my "Formal Polo Shirt". RC lie #1. When we do get to dinner, we are seated at a 6-top table with 2 other couples similar in age to us. One of the wives, Sue, was telling us about the wine she brought on board. I guess you are allowed 1 bottle per person (or stateroom not sure which). You just have to show it to security when boarding. RC lie #2. Towards the end of day #2, a sea day, the captain got on the PA system and said that overnight 25 people had reported Norovirus symptoms, and that if we experienced vomiting and/or diarrhea, that we should call the desk for further instructions. By the morning, they were up to 50 cases, and at that point, we could no longer serve ourselves food at the buffets. As soon as you got up from a table, they cleared the dishes and cleaned with this stuff in a purple bottle. There was a crew of maybe 10 people that just roamed the ship, day and night, wiping down elevators, hand rails, and anything that might get touched. By the end of the cruise, they had 180 cases (not all active at the same time). Here are my thoughts. They told us the carrier was tracked down to a family of 5 that came from Australia. So, if you are sick, be honest with the cruise line. There are 4-5000 passengers and crew in a small confined area. Illness spreads exponentially. Out of respect for fellow passengers, just be honest. It is possible that they got infected on the flight and didn't know they were sick prior to boarding, so I can't blame them if they honestly didn't know. Royal Caribbean, I think, did a great job of containing this. I enjoyed being served food at the buffets. This cruise had an older crowd and so many people would stand in front of the pan of fried chicken, for example, looking for that perfect piece. I thought the lines moved quicker because you got the piece of chicken they gave you. We had one of the couples at dinner get quarantined, two different people at an adjacent table, and at least 4 staterooms in our hallway had quarantined passengers (yellow square over their door). So, people were getting sick all around us, but luckily, we avoided it. One thing I think RC did not do a good job of, was providing details of the illness, like how it is transmitted, incubation time, etc. If you are going to take a cruise, I would print out details from the internet on Norovirus and take it with you. I would also recommend watching the movie "Contagion". It is not the best movie I have seen, but it really drives home how these things spread. The first two nights of dinning, none of us through the food was that good. There was some kind of seafood skewer that most of the table got one night, and the sauce on it tasted weird. However, friends of ours got that in early dining and thought it was fantastic. Apart from that, the food wasn't bad, it was just below average. The head waiter stopped by and asked how everything was going, and we mentioned that the food was sub-par. He apologized. For the remainder of the cruise, the food was very good. So, I don't know how all of that transpired, but they definitely took care of the situation. Overall the on-ship staff was fantastic. The entertainment was very good. One thing most of the passengers noted was that there was no way the ship was full. Usually we get to the shows early to make sure we get a seat, but we never saw the theater more than 1/2 full. We never waited in line for food and never had problem getting a lounge chair by the pool. One thing I have said is that every cruise we have taken is worse than the one before. As the ships keep getting bigger and bigger and there are more and more ships, coupled with a declining economy, the cruise lines have to deeply discount fares, and that can only mean that have to cut corners. I am happy to say, this cruise broke the trend. It was not the best, but it did land somewhere in the middle, and cost about 20% of what the best cost us. The last couple cruises, the staff has been downright aggressive in pushing alcohol and photos, and they scaled back to an acceptable level. A bartender was available if you wanted a drink, but if you just wanted to lay by the pool and read or sleep, they weren't interrupting you every 5 minutes to see if you wanted a "Bahama Mamma" or whatever. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
The food on this cruise is the worst that I have ever experienced on a cruise. There was not food available on the pool deck and swim suits were not allowed in the Windjammer buffet, so you would have to get dressed to go eat. They ... Read More
The food on this cruise is the worst that I have ever experienced on a cruise. There was not food available on the pool deck and swim suits were not allowed in the Windjammer buffet, so you would have to get dressed to go eat. They were extremely slow about clearing tables in the buffet. There was a lot of socializing among the crew when they should have been working. Supervisors would join in on the socializing. Who was minding the store? The food in the dining rooms was not good either. We ate at Johnny Rockets and Chopps a couple of times. The food in these venues was good, but it should have been because you pay a premium to eat there. If you wanted a late night snack and did not want to eat in your room there was only one place to get something. They had pre-made cold sandwiches, pizza under a heat lamp sponge cake and cookies. The pizza was not even grocery store quality. The bars where there was live music were small and so smoke filled you could not enjoy it if you were even able to find a seat. The ship was hot in all areas even the stateroom. Two days into the cruise there was a Norovirus outbreak. There were over 102 reported cases. This put a damper on the cruise for fear of catching it. The staff had to be pulled from other duties to constantly disinfect the public areas. The service on the ship suffered. I spoke with several seasoned cruisers and they expressed the same complaints that I had, so I feel I was not being over critical. Now please do not get me wrong we had a great time on the cruise but it was not to the standards that we are accustomed to. We were told that other ships in the RC line were great, that it was just the bad management of this ship. I may give one of their other ships a try but I could not recommend the Navigator of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We did this same cruise at the same time last year but on Voyager instead of Navigator, so the ship layout was same. Once again we stayed at Hampton Inn, Metarie, where we left our car for no charge for the week. Embarked before noon and ... Read More
We did this same cruise at the same time last year but on Voyager instead of Navigator, so the ship layout was same. Once again we stayed at Hampton Inn, Metarie, where we left our car for no charge for the week. Embarked before noon and headed for Two Poets for drinks and food from Cafe. Our jr suite included a coffee maker, robes, and walk-in closet. Very clean and tidy. Dinner was early seating in MDR at ten top with very congenial tablemates. Ate all dinners and several lunches there. One meal in WJ was enough. Missed pool grill that is on other ships. Never went to shows(music usually too loud), casino, or pool. Mostly ate, drank, and slept. These were same ports we had done twice before. In Cozumel we enjoyed the chocolate factory tour that we booked on-line. In Georgetown we took an independent tour of rum cake factory etc. In Falmouth we stayed in port and shopped. Norovirus meant crew was constantly washing railings and not allowing passengers to serve own food. The last night all glasses were removed from our room until I bitterly complained about having nothing to use while taking pm and am pills. Why could they not leave us paper cups? The last morning we left our cabin early for the written promise of refreshments in dining room while waiting to disembark. No food available. Were they afraid we would get sick while leaving ship? Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We sailed on the Navigator of the Seas, RC on 11/17 out of New Orleans. Our Embarkation was not good. Parking was impossible. But getting off the ship was very good. So I think the Port of New Orleans cleaned up their act by then. The ... Read More
We sailed on the Navigator of the Seas, RC on 11/17 out of New Orleans. Our Embarkation was not good. Parking was impossible. But getting off the ship was very good. So I think the Port of New Orleans cleaned up their act by then. The ship was FANTASTIC. The Promenade which is designed like a Main Street is great. There was a Disco Party there one night and the Circus Parade was Amazing. There are lots of activities on the ship, from jewelry making to napkin folding. There was always something to do. The shops on Main Street are okay, nothing special. The food is good at the main restaurants and buffet. The food is excellent in the specialty restaurants. We did the Mystery Dinner, which was lots of fun. The Gym on the ship is great, lots of machines and weights, but it does get crowded at certain times. The Casino is good. The Solarium, the adults only pool is fantastic. 2 whirlpools and one medium size pool. The other pool area is great, 2 larger pools and at least 4 whirlpools. They had line dancing, a disco party and various contests. The ports, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel were okay. Grand Cayman was beautiful. We did the Captain Bryan's Snorkeling trip in Grand Cayman. It was not great snorkeling, the reefs are not spectacular, but the ship and crew were Great. The snorkeling in Jamaica, Dream (booked thru the ship) was not worth the money. Snorkeling was just off the beach. But the ride on both catamarans was wonderful. We shopped in Cozumel, which although hectic with all the vendors shouting at you. But, you can get some great deals. I bought a necklace and I know it was 50% off as I checked the US price. I would give the Navigator 5 stars. The food is not perfect, but I didn't expect it to be. The Ports were not breathtaking, but I didn't expect that either. The ship is spotless, they received a 100% grade from the Health Inspector before we left the Port of New Orleans. The best part of our cruise was the ship. There was ALWAYS something to do. Bingo, exercise classes, dance lessons, mini golf, dodge ball, skating or in line skating. The bars and lounges are great. Our favorite was the Cosmopolitan. The ship never felt crowded even though it was fully booked. The Staff on every level was wonderful. All the staff we encountered on the entire cruise was courteous and friendly. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We sailed out of New Orleans on December 15th one day after our twin 19 yo old daughters finished up finals at college! We spent the night at a La Quinta in Mobile, AL. Nice inexpensive room. Boarding: The lines were pretty long but ... Read More
We sailed out of New Orleans on December 15th one day after our twin 19 yo old daughters finished up finals at college! We spent the night at a La Quinta in Mobile, AL. Nice inexpensive room. Boarding: The lines were pretty long but kept moving. We finally realized we could move over to a "suite" check in area as we booked a jr. suite with balcony. At that point we were checked in very quickly. Room: As mentioned we booked a jr. suite. I am SO happy we did this as there were 4 of us in the room. There is a nice walk in closet and plenty of storage for all of our things. The closet was great as it became our "dressing room" when we were all trying to get ready at the same time. We loved our balcony and spent a lot of time out there...just wish they had a chair that reclined! Drink: I would say only "complaint" about this cruise was that you were not allowed to have a bottle of alcohol in your room. They only will allow you to purchase single drinks from a bar or room service. We have sailed on other lines like Holland American that allow you to purchase a bottle for your room. We enjoy sitting out in the evening on our deck and having a drink before dinner. Food: We had "my time" dining. Which is a bit deceptive in the name as you really need a reservation. If you tried to walk up, they would tell you when you could come back and for us it was always "after 8pm". So several nights we just went upstairs to the buffet or ordered room service. We did go to Chops one night and it was excellent. Shows: I only went to one show and the ice show...both were well done! Dancing: My husband and I like to dance and took the on board dance lessons....lots of fun...but then in the evening it was very difficult to find music to dance to. They played dance music from 7:45 to 8:30pm and then would play more starting at 10pm....we just wondered why they didn't offer music all night long. Gym: Excellent...my daughter and I went almost everyday...nice machines. Overall, we loved this cruise. Very friendly staff, ship was beautiful and many decorations up for Christmas. Loved our room and balcony and I would sail with RC again! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We did RCL's New Year's Trip RT out of New Orleans. We live in the area right now, so we drove to the port. We have left out of 3 other ports including 1 outside the US and this port was the worst the leave out of. It took us a ... Read More
We did RCL's New Year's Trip RT out of New Orleans. We live in the area right now, so we drove to the port. We have left out of 3 other ports including 1 outside the US and this port was the worst the leave out of. It took us a long time to get to the parking lot, we then had to wait in a very long line (even as Gold members), and it took nearly 1.5 hours just to get on the ship. We spoke with other travelers who have experienced other ports and shared the same frustration at embarkation in NOLA. It seemed they had much fewer guest service people checking everyone in, since we sailed thru security rather quickly (once we got to that point!). The ship was decked out in holiday regalia. We absolutely hate the holidays and often try to escape to a non-christian country to avoid the cold, Christmas caroling, and what not. We were pleased that even though the ship was dressed to impress for the holidays, we did not hear any Christmas music and it was toned down the further we got into the cruise. The 3rd night, the main dining room was free of Christmas stuff entirely, and by the end of the trip the only item left visible was the tree in the Promenade. We were so grateful for that!All our days at sea were crappy weather. I know the cruise lines cannot do anything about this. They moved the majority of events from the outside into the inside or cancelled them all together. We never had a lack of something to do onboard, but would have appreciated 1 day sitting by the pool, but alas it was beautiful once we were down in the Caribbean! Our cruise directors were hilarious, personable, and we had a great time on 70's night, NYE party, and a few sail away parties camped out in the outdoor hot tubs watching the sunset. We did go see several of the shows, the Platters brought down the house! Not a dry eye in the place! The juggler was okay, the comedian was mostly funny (we were both sober, so maybe some alcohol helped). Formal nights were fun and orderly. I took 1 of the photography classes while onboard and the staff down there were wonderful. Two of the photographers were very gifted and we bought all the photos these 2 took, with the rest being rather lack luster. We really enjoy the portraits as they are framed fun memories of our adventures. The people onboard were by far the friendliest we have encountered. We met many people from all over the US. I met a fellow photographer onboard and we spent an hour on the pool deck showing me how to work my new fancy camera. We met another couple NYE night in Boleros bar near midnight and had great conversation, laughs and dancing. The celebrations on the Promenade were fun to be had by all and even though it was insanely crowded and loud, people were still nice and willing. We tolerate the Windjammer when we are too tired or don't want to think about where to round up food. (Isn't the point of a cruise to not think for a week?). Some things in the Windjammer were good, others awful, you just kind of learned what to avoid. The hand santizer guy at the Windjammer won employee of the month for his insane amount of enthusiasm in the morning getting everyone to sanitize their hands. He was awesome to wake up to every morning! We buy the soda package on these cruises and between him and the caffeine, you were moving in the morning! We did eat at Johnny Rockets 1 day for lunch, we didn't need to eat anything till our 8pm dinner and even then we weren't really hungry. Johnny Rockets is so much fun, loud, and food is good for diner food. Love the cheese fries and chocolate milk shakes. I would eat there every day just for those two things, but I would have gained 10 pounds on a weeklong cruise doing that! Lol. We also ate at Chops Grille on NYE night. We had a 6:30pm seating, and the place was empty when we got there with a few couples wandering in by 8pm when we rolled ourselves out of there. Our steaks were good, dessert phenonmenal, and we even got funky hats for NYE celebrations later. Our waitress was nice but not super informative. The very first time we had Chops on an RCL line (Serenade of the Seas in 8/09), we got "the steak talk" from our waiter. They went over the kinds of cuts, how best to cook them, etc. We have not been able to get "the steak talk" since then, and only for that reason would not rate it as the best Chops experience we have had. I would have enjoyed more interaction with our server, the host was very friendly and pleasant and spoke with us several times throughout our meal.Now the main dining room. We had the best waiter we have ever had on any ship, ever. Volcun (seriously, that's his name), was happy, energetic, happy to talk to us, polite, joked with us, and overall just a wonderful person. We never wanted for anything. We were in a back room from the main dining room, which we were initially upset about, but he more than made up for it. After we found out that RCL no longer does the Caribbean dance through the main dining room with the waiters dressed in kitchen accutreman, it didn't matter we were not in the main dining room. Our table only had 1 other couple at it, and they too helped make dinner very enjoyable each evening. We had so much fun talking to them and learning about each other. We made friends with them, and took them to the airport when we disembarked. Again, total blast for the dining room. The food on average was ok. I feel the quality and most certainly the proportions have declined. But if we didn't like something, our waiter quickly brought us something else. We would order different desserts and our waiter would bring us everything on the list just to truly each night since we had an 8 person table with only 4 people at it. I was very unhappy to find out RCL no longer prints the Gratuity Coupons to go into your envelopes on the last night onboard. We have always prepaid gratuities and If we got special attention we would throw some extra cash in there. We always enjoyed passing around the envelopes on the last night, but since we got ho-hum service from everyone except our waiter, he was the only one who got additional cash. I asked the guest services desk if the employees are told who did pre-paid gratuities, and she said no. So we wrote on our envelopes that we did not put cash in "We prepaid your tip and RCL will not print a coupon". So we were rather disappointed at that. Knowing that in the future, we will not prepay our gratuities and do strictly cash for everyone. I don't know if that was RCL's goal or not, but that is what it resulted in.Please DO NOT book excursions through Royal in Grand Cayman. We routinely buy excursions thru the cruise line and pay the higher price largely for the "idiot factor" of not having to think or worry on our trip. Grand cayman is beautiful, civilized, and the port is built to have ample opportunity to get a tour from a vendor there on site or even take a taxi to a local beach w/o a fuss. Our guide here was half an hour late, literally read road signs of local businesses to us for our tour, then rushed us through places to get back on schedule because the boat left at 3pm. Our travel agent warned us against doing a cruise ship sponsored trip and she was totally right. We loved Grand Cayman and cannot wait to go back and "do it right". In Jamaica (our first port day on New Years Day), we signed up to do Dunn River's Falls and Green Grotto Caves. First off, that was a mistake to sign up for 2 very physical activites right after New Years night. We don't drink, but we were still up late and had to be off the ship by 8am for this tour. We were dragging all day. Dunn River's Fall was ok, not sure I would do it again. The perpetual hounding to buy something got very old very quickly. The Green Grotto caves were very neat to see. In Cozumel we chose to go mudding in a dune buggy to the Jade Caverns. Fun, but again not what we expected. We spent a lot of time broken down and only got about 5 minutes at the caverns. They try for these corny photo ops holding an alligator, next to parrots and hawks and the like, but they are far from good photos. Half of them didn't even show up on the screen at the end of the tour anyway. I believe it was termed an X-rails adventure. Bring a bandana, wrap around sunglasses, towel, and a change of clothes. You will get COATED in mud (which is what we wanted). We would do this tour again if given the chance. The facility was nice, the people friendly, and they provided taxis back to the pier (about a 10 minute drive). The pier in cozumel is great for shopping. We went back to the ship, grabbed a quick shower, and went back off to go have lunch at Senor Frogs along the water at the pier. I recommend Senor Frogs! Fun party atmosphere, all their drinks come in tall obnoxious plastic glasses, and the food was really good. I bought a tanzanite ring from Tanzanite International on the pier here, they love to haggle, so never pay the first price they say!After Cozumel we cruised back to New Orleans. We had a wonderful trip even though the weather was awful (cloudy, 70 knot winds on deck, all outdoor activities this day were cancelled including the dodge ball tournament we were looking forward to watching). Next year the ship will be something else and it will go to different ports out of NOLA. We are seriously considering doing another New Years trip out of this city, and would happily return to this port to do more in the future once we are platinum or higher guests because they got on very quickly. The people onboard this cruise were super friendly and we had a great time doing a wide variety of activities! Our room attendant was good, not great, but he did his job. We enjoy inside rooms because they get totally dark, have always been very quiet for us, and we are hardly in the room if we are awake! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Our cruise began December 15, 2012. It was our first cruise and I was nervous about cruising with kids (ages 11 & 6). We got through the security lines in less than an hour and were able to walk to the suite check-in with no line. ... Read More
Our cruise began December 15, 2012. It was our first cruise and I was nervous about cruising with kids (ages 11 & 6). We got through the security lines in less than an hour and were able to walk to the suite check-in with no line. Be sure to look for it if you are staying in a suite, as it took the people who were in front of us an additional hour to get on the boat. By then, we had already unpacked, and started checking out the boat. We went to the Windjammer for a late lunch and finished just in time to get to or muster zone for the drill. After the drill we went to our room and finished setting up our room and getting ready for dinner. I was beginning to the see a pattern! My son decided the theme of our trip was: Eat. Sleep. Repeat! Our stateroom attendant, Yara, came in and met the kids, asked us questions about some of our preferences, and gave us some tips and ideas. We were doing the 6 pm first seating dinner for the week, the food and service were great. It was nice to be able to look out and watch the sea as we started dinner the first night but before dinner arrived my youngest was not feeling well so I took him to the room and we both went to sleep. Thankfully that was the only time we experienced any uneasy feelings during our cruise. Our waiter prepared our food and let them bring it up to us. It wasn't necessary but very appreciated when I woke up starving. We had room service deliver breakfast every morning so that we could get ready at our own pace. On the days we were at sea we had a late breakfast and on the days we were in port it was earlier depending on what time we had to get off the boat. We were at sea for the first three days and my kids ended up spending a lot of time in the Adventure Ocean program. The youngest loved it and would cry when I would pick him up. This was especially shocking for us as we thought that he would not want to be away from us. We even ended up letting him stay for the late night events twice. For $6 per child they can stay until 2 AM. We were never able to stay up quite that late but they did get to stay until midnight. One night they had an adorable pirate parade and they painted their faces and walked through the promenade chanting. It was very cute and they all were having fun. They had events planned for them the entire cruise. On the last day at sea they hosted a talent show in the Cosmopolitan Bar for them and I swear it was the cutest thing ever. My oldest had fun the first few days, but I didn't want him to be a self signer so he decided he would spend more time hanging out with us. We didn't spend nearly as much time at the pool as I thought we would, we only ended up going swimming once. The pools were to deep for my youngest to reach the ground. The ice skating show was a hit with everyone in our family. We played bingo and even won a little money. We enjoyed the entertainment each night and the morning show was funny. We even sent a few shout outs to other family members that were on board. Next time we will probably do two beach days and one adventure day for excursions. Maybe zip line or a dolphin encounter? Some of the things I was very glad to have were: air deodorizer, highlighters for the daily compass, pens, waterproof camcorder (go pro), and good walking sandals. I used the packing list found on cruise critic and we found ourselves very well prepared. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We so looked forward to cruising over the New Years. One of the big selling features of this boat was the golf simulator for my husband. Well it was broken. They had no idea when it would be fixed. We absolutley loved our dinner staff! ... Read More
We so looked forward to cruising over the New Years. One of the big selling features of this boat was the golf simulator for my husband. Well it was broken. They had no idea when it would be fixed. We absolutley loved our dinner staff! Carolina, Galen, Custudio and Rohan. Top notch! Sincerely lovely people. My husband bought the alcohol package and was frustrated because he couldn't get the same drinks at different bars. They didn't know how to make them, or didn't have the right ingredients. My kids loved the Windjammer. The guy doing the "sanitize sanitize" dance was a little too much for me before my coffee, but an effective addition to ensure that extra layer of contamination safety. So Id rather he keep up his good work. There were some big issues with language barrier, which suprised me because Id think most of the workers would know just a little English. Our excursions were wonderful! In all honesty I think some of our disappointments were our travel agents fault. She misrepresented the boat. My kids were expecting the Flo Rida, Zip Lining, and a big outdoor screen. She also did not give us accurate info about the general weather in New Orleans which effected the beginning of our trip in a huge way. I honestly felt like I had to really seek out the kids programs, and pry for information. My kids request Carnival next time. The Navigator could clearly use a little sprucing up. If I could take our dinner staff with us, I'd agree. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This is a review of the Navigator of the Seas, sailing date December 1, 2012. It was just my wife and I. As a general statement I believe the crew on any given ship will make or break the entertainment value of the vacation. Boarding: ... Read More
This is a review of the Navigator of the Seas, sailing date December 1, 2012. It was just my wife and I. As a general statement I believe the crew on any given ship will make or break the entertainment value of the vacation. Boarding: We flew in the day before and spent the night at Harrah's New Orleans and had a great time. We took a cab with another couple that we met at the front door and we got taken for a ride ....literally....$30.00 to go 2 blocks!!! The ship had porters there to unload our luggage into the big carts and into the line we went.... Our bags were already tagged so it was a quick drop and go situation. The porters tagged your bags if you didn't already have them. Note that the Riverwalk access to the cruise ship walkway (it's still marked like that) is closed. The doors have a heavy chain and padlock on them. At this point organization took a vacation. We didn't know it at the time but a lot of the embarkation problems were related to the fact that the Navigator had just come in with the "NOROVIRUS infection" on board and that they were in the process of "fumigating" each and every public area on board.... It only took about 1 hour to get on board ship but because of the decontamination process we were not allowed to go to our stateroom until after 4:00PM... Once on board that is where the problems started. We headed to the Windjammer and instead of it being a regular buffet they had TWO (2) food servers next to each serving station to serve the guests as NOBODY was allowed to touch the food because of the virus. It took over one hour to make it through the buffet line and by the time you found a seat, the food was cold. We had this problem the WHOLE trip. Cold food....It was not until Friday, on the last day, that the guests were able to self service. Entertainment: Average at best Dining: The food and service in the Main dining room was fabulous and both Waiter (Rakesh) and Assistant Waiter (Americo) were phenomenal. Windjammer: the food was always cold. Room service: The food was decent and on time. Bar Service: Very good Soda Package: In my opinion, the soda package on the Navigator is a complete waste of money. I'm not sure I will ever buy the soda package on RCCL again because of this. Excursions: Our excursion to Dunn's River Falls in Falmouth Jamaica was very good and very well organized. NOROVIRUS: On day 3, I started getting a really bad head cold and by day 5 I was pretty run down. I went to sick bay and spoke to a nurse whose whole interest was whether or not I had a headache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea....which were the published symptoms of Norovirus....I had none of the above other than a mild case of diarrhea.....she told me that I had two choices either to get the FREE Tylenol and Imodium to treat it as Norovirus infection or see a doctor for a $100.00 fee....Really??? I opted for the Imodium and Tylenol and was confined (quarantined) to my cabin for 24 hours. That was on Thursday at 11 AM and I was in the cabin for 24 hours....NO FUN!! The following day at 11:15AM the nurse called and asked me "how I felt?" and since I was feeling better she released me from the quarantine and I was free to go anywhere on the ship. ...Out of courtesy for other passengers and our table mates, I decided to abstain from going to the dining room or to the buffet and stuck to room service. Disembarkation: It was very well organized and we were off the ship within 30 minutes. Note: We have now been home for a week and I still have yet to hear from RCCL. No emails or not even a letter asking "How I was doing or whether I was dead or alive?" It was our third cruise with RCCL but it will be a long time before I go on another one... A very disappointed cruiser! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Cruise Review of Navigator of the Seas, December 8, 2012 About me: Love cruising - like to be active. Easy to please. Best thing: service, both housekeeper and waiters Worst thing: casino because of smokiness The cruise: Getting ... Read More
Cruise Review of Navigator of the Seas, December 8, 2012 About me: Love cruising - like to be active. Easy to please. Best thing: service, both housekeeper and waiters Worst thing: casino because of smokiness The cruise: Getting there. We live nine hours from New Orleans and four hours from a good airport, so we drove. Spent the night at a nice Sleep Inn ($59) near the airport - pick up a coupon book to get this rate. Visited the French Quarter in the morning, and stopped by the interesting old Catholic cemetery. Then used GPS to go to the port's parking lot. That was a mistake. We got a zigzag tour of the underbelly of the port area. Next time I will go back to I-10 and use the road signs to find the cruise port. Parking lot was poorly paved, and cost us $112 (could have saved $28 by parking offsite, but I would be in a hurry to leave New Orleans after the cruise.) We didn't see a porter until we'd walked most of the way to the terminal. Arrived at 2:30 in an attempt to let the crowds get on the ship -- didn't help, there was one slow line after another. Guess I'll go back to arriving early. The first thing we noticed about the ship was the slow elevators. As the cruise wore on, the elevators got slower and slower. Maybe it was because most passengers wanted to ride rather than to walk up or down a single level. Departure. The ship got away two hours late; I'm afraid this was because somebody had heart problems during the lifeboat drill. Kids on a riverboat tour went crazy when we waved at them. Another riverboat gave us a calliope concert. We passed a cruise ship while on the Mississippi River. Being on the river is a great part of a cruise out of New Orleans. Dining rooms. The main dining rooms are on decks 3 through 5, towards the rear of the ship. They are open in the middle, and it feels like one huge dining room. The chandeliers are spectacular. Noise level is low. The cafeteria is on deck 14. It is a no-frills place, with buffet lines in the middle of the cafeteria, but lots of seating near the windows. Breakfast. We always ate in the restaurant; breakfast was quite good, and there was no reason to go anywhere else. The menu had several selections, plus there is a buffet with fruits, yogurt and cereals. The cooks got my eggs right every time. One day my wife sent her Eggs Benedict back because the whites were runny. The host fills up each table, so there are lots of people to talk about the previous day's activities. Breakfast was the best part of most days. Lunch. The restaurants weren't open long for lunch. Since we had late seating supper, and usually ate breakfast fairly late, there was no opportunity to eat lunch in a restaurant. I ate in the cafeteria. The lettuce salads were fine. The hot food was poor, with the same selections every day. Bread pudding was good, but the other desserts were terrible. Supper (late seating, 8:30). Food was excellent. Even the frozen fish was cooked well. Wonderful prime rib, served on two different nights. Lobster was plentiful; one guy ordered and ate three lobsters. The cold, sweet soups were too sweet for my tastes. No escargot during the week. Chocolate desserts were tasty, and the parfaits were good. There were four of us at a table for eight -- we had very attentive service. Cabin. We had a balcony cabin. The balcony itself felt like public space; we couldn't see anyone, but we heard many conversations. Romantic, it was not. The cabin itself was roomy. Lots of sitting space, including a couch. The bathroom was plenty large, and the shower was big enough. Closets had lots of space. The dressers were way too small, but there were several shelves in the closet. The room was very quiet. We slept with the balcony door open on the first and last nights, as the weather was cool near the mainland. In the Caribbean, the weather was way too warm to enjoy being outside on the balcony at any time. Music. Ship band (big band / jazz) was mediocre. Pool band (vaguely reggae) was very good and had a wide repertoire. Jazz combo was pretty good. Violin and piano duo were nice. Other music was not impressive. There was little live music for such a large ship. Comedians. Azeem was hard to understand, so I didn't laugh much. He did a late night, "adult" set which I missed (poor reviews from people at breakfast.) The other comedian told the stalest of jokes; but a young lady sitting near us thought they were hilarious. Ice skating program. Surprisingly good. I'd rather pull out my fingernails than watch ice skating on television. But these were real people doing honest ice dancing. If they missed a jump or had to recover from an awkward lift, it just made the show all the better. Musician Travis LeDoyt. Elvis impersonator. He performed as the young, rockabilly Elvis. He also did some Jerry Lee Lewis style music. Crazy entertaining. El Gaucho. Musician, visual artist, and loon. Fun to watch. Ballroom Dancing show. After being pleasantly surprised by the ice dancing, LeDoyt and El Gaucho, we decided to try this show. The ballroom dancing couple was very good, but the show was boring. We left early. Casino. It is the last refuge for cigarette smokers, and almost every gambler sported a lit cigarette. The exhaust system was overwhelmed. Only people who seriously love second hand smoke should go to the casino. Usually on a seven day cruise, there are stories about somebody who won a bunch of money. Only one rumor reached my ears -- at breakfast a guy said he saw someone doing okay at some roulette style game; the other diners at my table were incredulous. Activities. My wife went to a belly dancing class; they changed the location, and the class was half over by the time she finally found it. I am a piano instructor, and so went to a piano lesson to see how they teach it; nobody came to the lesson. The ship also offered one hour classes in napkin folding, ballroom dancing, Spanish speaking, and other things. My wife enjoyed the belly flop contest and the sexy man contest. Bingo on the ship was way over-hyped, and that was my clue to do something else. Poor art auctioneer could barely speak English, and he didn't sell much the one time I watched. CruiseCritic Meet and Greet. Had an invitation in the cabin that the get-together would be held at 11:30 PM on the third day. Then someone called and said it was changed to 11:00 AM on the second day. We had a good time visiting with other people who got that mistaken message. When it actually started at 11:30, it was disappointing. There were too many people in a room with no windows. They served us seriously bad Kool-Aid. Walking track and jogging track. Deck 4 circles the ship outdoors. Toward the front of the ship, this track detours to deck 5; that is an added bonus to serious walkers. There were several shuffleboard courts that were well used. Many deck chairs were available, but were mostly vacant. This track is above and beside public areas, so early morning walkers don't disturb anyone. The jogging track is on deck 12, above the pool. It is fairly short, and wound around the chairs which faced the pool; and so, jogging is difficult during daylight hours. Promenade. Artfully laid out. Besides obligatory liquor store and cruise clothing store, there were small bars -- coffee, ice cream, beer, and champagne. Only problem was that wide tables (used to sell trinkets) blocked traffic through the area. And a huge Christmas tree blocked traffic at the other end. On formal night, graceful stairways were used as a photo prop. To travel between front and rear of the ship, we usually avoided the deck 5 promenade and used the walking track or casino on deck 4. Recreation. The rock climbing wall was more of a competition venue for teens than a recreational area. It was only open during short hours. The basketball court was good. The miniature golf course was difficult because there were no walls against which to carom a shot. There were side by side pools; somebody told me that one was fresh water and the other salt. Lots of hot tubs. Another pool and hot tubs were in a part of the ship that was supposed to be child-free; the walls were so close that it seemed more like an indoor swimming pool. An in-line skating track was very short. The ice skating rink had open skating only a few times during the cruise. Getting off the ship. There were no debarkation announcements in the cabins or restaurants. We didn't know that it had been delayed for an hour and a half. Breakfast was slow, even though we were in the restaurant when it opened at 6:30. Once in the terminal, the waiting line for people carrying all their luggage off the ship was incredibly slower than the line for people who had checked their bags; so people with early exit times were out the door before the self-porters. Summary. Many RCI customers have a notion that Royal Caribbean is some kind of luxury line. Maybe it is. Those people were disappointed by the Navigator. The Navigator has some very nice things, but it is definitely not luxurious; it is a little nicer than ships of the same size from Carnival and Norwegian. I'd go again on an RCI ship, especially if they continue to cruise out of New Orleans & Galveston. But there is no reason to pay more for a Navigator cruise than for any of the mass market cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Arrived from Austin,Texas stayed in Baton Rouge the night before and arrived at Port at about 11:00 A.M. I was going to park at the Ship's parking but saw a parking garage directly across the road from the ship for $ 12.00 a day so ... Read More
Arrived from Austin,Texas stayed in Baton Rouge the night before and arrived at Port at about 11:00 A.M. I was going to park at the Ship's parking but saw a parking garage directly across the road from the ship for $ 12.00 a day so parked there and took a free shuttle to the ship. I was going to check my one suitcase, but did not exactly see where and no one volunteered to take it so ended up boarding with it. Check-in was fast and smooth and being in Emerald Class boarded right after a wedding party and was in the Windjammer eating a delightful lunch by 12:30 Went to my cabin at 1:30 with my sole piece of luggage and was in the Pool by 2:00 P.M. Ship was very bright and clean and noticed staff almost everywhere tidying and polishing all the time all week long. Food was excellent without exception in the main dining room and Windjammer. Ice show was first class as were the main shows. Other Acts were in my opinion very poor. I used my time dining and had no trouble getting a seat with others whenever I went to the dining room with no reservations. No waiting but I did tend to go between 6:00 and 6:15 which may have helped. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
EMBARKATION: We flew non-stop from Washington,D.C. to New Orleans on Dec.21 and stayed with our children and grandchildren at the Marriott Springhill Suites in the warehouse district. We particularly like Springhill Suites because they ... Read More
EMBARKATION: We flew non-stop from Washington,D.C. to New Orleans on Dec.21 and stayed with our children and grandchildren at the Marriott Springhill Suites in the warehouse district. We particularly like Springhill Suites because they include a free breakfast. The Hotel is close enough to the pier so that our kids just walked with their luggage to the pier. We took a taxi, left our luggage with the porters and were on board the ship within fifteen to twenty minutes..best embarkation ever!! We loved sailing on the Mississippi River..much more interesting than going right into the ocean. SHIP INTERIOR: The Navigator of the Seas is still a beautiful vessel! We sailed a few years ago on her sister ship, Explorer of the Seas, so we knew our way around at once. Our staterooms were on deck three, oceanview..we had four cabins side by side...our daughter and her husband had connecting cabins with their three children which is a perfect arrangement, because, among other things, it allows them to have two bathrooms. The cabins are beautifully designed, with plenty of storage behind mirrors, shelves in the closets and great lighting! Our cabin attendant was fine, and did the towel animals almost every evening which is always entertaining. They were especially cute in our grandchildren's cabin. We really did not ask for anything special except for a bucket of ice each day, however, our grandkids' cabin did require a bit more effort. DINING ROOM: We were at table #291 and table #294. There were twenty of us altogether in our party, all cousins, who had decided to take this cruise. My travel agent was able to link the two tables, so we had two oval tables together on deck three in the Nutcracker Dining Room. Our server, Ivor, and his assistants, Robert and Ruben were FABULOUS!!! This was the best service we have ever had on any cruise and the dining room experience can make or break a cruise! The food is adequate..not gourmet, but tasty! The soups are superb, especially the cold fruit soups, and the desserts were always good. They had lobster tails two nights, which were fine, and they had prime rib, which was also very good. They also offer a menu for those who are trying to be calorie conscious, which is quite satisfactory. We did not use any of the specialty restaurants although one of my grandchildren went to Johnny Rockets, which was just okay! ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment on this ship was my greatest disappointment. I have the feeling that Royal Caribbean is using their entertainment budget to enhance the programs on their newer and larger ships, and are neglecting their older ships. The performers are talented, but the productions were not worthy of their talent. The costumes were cheap, there were no sets and until the third program, I did not even know they had an orchestra. The ice show was the only show that was really professionally done and it was excellent!!! The Schooner Bar also had a pianist with an amazing repertoire and he packed the place every night!! MISCELLANEOUS: The only port we had not been to was Jamaica, which was okay, but the guides never forgot to remind us that they wanted to be tipped. We went to Paradise Beach in Cozumel, which is the best beach of all and the most reasonable for what you get, and in the Caymans we went to the Royal Palms Beach Club, where our daughter had reserved a cabana and four beach chairs in advance for $100. It was expensive but lovely. The hotels on the Caymans do not give day passes at Christmas, so there were not too many options since we had already done the Stingray thing. Our disembarkation was easy. We had an eleven o'clock flight back to D.C. so we arranged for an early disembarkation..the process is not quite as organized as the embarkation, but we purchased transfers for a quick bus ride via Royal Caribbean, and went quickly through customs. This was really our best cruise ever and can't wait to sail again!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Embarkation: The port of New Orleans was pretty organized but not as organized as Oasis and Allure. We were checked in and on the ship within 45 minutes. Cabin: We had a Superior Balcony cabin on deck 7 forward. The room was in good ... Read More
Embarkation: The port of New Orleans was pretty organized but not as organized as Oasis and Allure. We were checked in and on the ship within 45 minutes. Cabin: We had a Superior Balcony cabin on deck 7 forward. The room was in good shape except for some of the droors that were pretty knicked up, but it didn't bother us much. Also it still had one of the older Tvs. We were very close to the elevators and it was very convientant to the promenade. Dining: We ate in the main dining room 5 of the 7 nights. Food was overall good, with a few bad dishes. Our servers Ali from Turkey and Iwanai were great and very personable and not forced. We were a group of 2 and we were at a 4 top but the other 2 never showed. Ports: In Grand Cayman we did the Dolpin adventure (push, pull, and swim) which was excellent. The facility was very nice and very modern. In Falmouth we did a Mountian Valley Rafting tour was overall okay. The bus ride was a good hour, which was longer than expected. The rafting part was very fun and relaxing, while the activities afterward drug on. Shows: We saw all of the shows in the main theatre along with the ice show. The production shows were All Access and Ballroom Fever. All Acess was a fast paced pop and rock show which I really enjoyed. Ballroom Fever was okay, there was minimal sets, plus we don't really ballroom dancing. The guest entertainers were good except for the juggler. The other guests were the Platters and Vox Audio were both excellent. Crew: We felt like overall the crew seemed more confortable and more friendly than on Oasis and Allure. Like I already said our wait staff was awesome. We gave our wow card to our server Ali. Overall a fantastic cruise, and we would return to the Naviagtor any day! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
A little background: ADA cruiser lugging medical support stuff. We arrived at the terminal at the time stated on the documents (11am) and were told rather rudely we couldn't get into the terminal until 1pm. So here I am, an ADA ... Read More
A little background: ADA cruiser lugging medical support stuff. We arrived at the terminal at the time stated on the documents (11am) and were told rather rudely we couldn't get into the terminal until 1pm. So here I am, an ADA (Americans with Disiabilities Act) person, having to stand outside in the cold for two hours. RCCL to the rescue: one of their agents heard the discussion and went inside and brought me a chair. When we finally boarded, we were told it would be another hour before we could go to our cabins. Went to the Windjammer;it had a line out to the pool area. FINALLY got to the cabin, luggage had arrived--but not the medical supplies (finally located at 11pm). This ship is not for older persons. It's a long way from the forward elevators to the dining areas and from the dining areas to the showroom. (And anywhere else for that matter). Dining: Food has slipped a few steps on RCCL. So has service. Waiter was ok. Assistant waiter was very good. Housekeeping:Best feature of the ship (considering my medical requirements), he just rolled with the flow and was REAL nice about it. Windjammer wasn't like the Windjammers of old on the Rhapsody, Sovereign, and others. Food wasn't as good, presentation wasn't as efficient, area wasn't as clean, and dining area manager was not as nice. Neither was the manager of the forum sandwich shop (NEVER saw him smile once during the entire week. (Sandwich shop was was GREAT for a snack or quick coke or coffee or tea). Shore tours? Efficiently handled and good. Shows? WOW! One bad one out of many! Ice show was REALLY good. Casino? It's a casino, but very comprehensive (needs another poker table imho!) Bars and Bar service? Very good. Especially late night jazz in the Crown and Anchor and the Schooner Bar. It sounds like we had a terrible time, but I'm being critical here. Summary: I never thought I would ever say that RCCL has slipped a few notches, but they have. But it's still a FAR better cruise experience than the big "C." Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Last July when deciding where to go for our pre-Christmas vacation my wife and I looked at several options we finally decided to try a Western Caribbean cruise and after looking at several ships and intenerates we decided since we have not ... Read More
Last July when deciding where to go for our pre-Christmas vacation my wife and I looked at several options we finally decided to try a Western Caribbean cruise and after looking at several ships and intenerates we decided since we have not been to New Orleans and after not getting the response we wanted from Carnival we decided to book our cruise on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas. Since our departure was in mid-December and we were not sure of what the weather would be and we wanted to see some of New Orleans before leaving on our cruise we decided to fly in the night before our cruise. After leaving our home at 11:00 AM on Friday, December 14, 2012 we arrived in New Orleans around 6:30 PM and were in our hotel room at the Drury Inn by 7:30 PM. We found the Drury on the forums on the Cruise Critic. The hotel was excellent and after waling over to the French Quarter to have dinner at the Bourbon House and stopping at a local CVC to get some last minute items that we needed for our trip we had a nice night. On Saturday morning we had a wonderful breakfast we went out and walked around the French Quarter where we visited Jackson Square and stopped at Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets then it was back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and to check out. At 12:15 PM we were in a cab and heading to the Julia Street cruise ship terminal. By 12:30 PM and after waiting in line we were at the entrance to the terminal and since we had all ready tagged our bags we dropped them off with the porter and made our was in side the terminal where we waited on four lines was to show our ticket and id to enter the second line which was for security these lines went pretty fast the third line was to enter to line for check in to combat the Norovirus everyone had to use hand sanitize before proceeding to the line for check in as part of the check in process both my wife and my self had to fill out a heal form stating we were not exposed to the flu or any flue like virus after that was done we received our SeaPass cards and it was off to the gangway where the cards were activated and welcome photo were taken. We then headed to deck 10 where our cabin was ready and we found our shore excursion tickets, tickets to Sundays Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle. After dropping off our carry on bags we went up to the Windjammer on deck 11 for lunch around 2:00 PM. Before heading to the buffet I bought the unlimited soda package. However it should be noted that the soda selection are limited on the Navigator has the ship has not been outfitted with the new Coke machines that Royal Caribbean is rolling out through out its fleet. After checking out the menu for Chops the ships steakhouse it was off to the buffet which featured two identical lines beginning with Jade the ships Asian buffet then the Windjammer line which featured a salad bar, pizza, sandwiches then an area with various hot foods and desert bar. We found that some of the hot food was not has hot as it should have been. I had two Hot Dogs that were nicely grilled but that the ship used sandwich rolls instead of buns for the food. After lunch we headed back to our cabin where we found our bags had been delivered so we began the process of unpacking. The closet in the cabin had plenty of hangers and there was ample space all of our clothes the only problem was storing our luggage since the storage space in the cabin was limited so one our carry on bags were stored in one of our larger pieces of luggage. At 4:00 PM we headed to our muster station for the life boat drill. Unlike our previous two cruises attendance was taking at the drill I could not determine if this was done in response to the Costa Concordia disaster. At the conclusion of the drill the ships Captain Frank Martinsen gave a briefing on the ships course and departure time we then processed up to deck to get some photos and to watch the ship depart. Since we had to wait for the Carnival Elation to depart and to get down river. We finally pulled away and were underway at 5:05 PM about thirty five minutes after departure the ship used it reversers to pull away from the dock it then made a 180 degree turn in the Mississippi River to head south to the Gulf of Mexico after watching New Orleans disappear in the distance we went down to the Royal Promenade on deck 5 to have a drink and watch the Circus Parade which featured the ships entertainment staff and Jimmy Rhodes our cruise director. After reviewing the menu for dinner and being tired we had dinner at the buffet and went to bed early since we were both tired. Before going to bed I did check out the ships on board TV which was quite limited and was really geared to times when the ship is cursing the medterian since it had 4 different channels for moves in foreign languages and no CNN International in English. Sunday was the first of three Sea days we both got up and were well rested after getting dressed we then headed to the Windjammer deck where we had a nice breakfast but what we also found was that the Omelets were premade and most of the hot food was not hot at all which was a pattern that continued for the rest of our trip. After breakfast we wanted to work our on the treadmills in the fitness center but all of the treadmills were in use so we walked on the walking/jogging track on deck 12. At 9:30 AM I left my wife to wait on line to get tickets to one of the 4 Ice shows in Studio B the ships Ice Rink. After working out we changed and did some shopping along the Royal Promenade for souvenirs which we bought. At 11:30 AM we headed to the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle which was in the Dungeons the ships disco which was rather small and cramped for the size of the crowed and there were not enough food or gifts for every one who attended. Since we arrived late our gifts were derived a day later to our room. After the meet and mingle and having made our way to the bow of the ship on deck 5 we went and has a delicious lunch in the Nutcracker Dinning Room after lunch and checking out that evenings dinner menu we returned to our room while I checked the lone NFL game available on the TV then we had a delicious snack at the Cafe on the Royal Promenade. We then got dressed for the first of two formal nights on the cruise where we went to the Captains Reception and got our photos taken with the Captain along with several of the other photo stations before going to dinner and that evenings show Ballroom Fever which my wife enjoyed but I found to be rather slow. Before going to bed since the ship was heading into the Eastern Time Zone our clocks had be set forward one hour. Monday was also spent at sea since I wanted Eggs Benedict and it was not available in the Windjammer we had a much better breakfast in the main dinning room. After breakfast we checked out our photos from forma night and bought a water camera. After setting up the new camera we went to the sports deck where we played some minnture golf. After playing golf I had lunch at Johnny Rockets which was well worth the $4.95 cover charge since I had a meal that if I bought it on shore would have cost me around $10-12.00 including tip was a great deal. Since I had Johnny Rockets my wife had her lunch at Jade and had a massage at the ships spa. While she was at the Spa I went and checked out the observation window into the bridge where there was not very much activity going on since we were just cursing along at sea and I went to the Viking Crown to have a drink in the lounge. After picking my wife up at the Spa we had a snack on the Royal Promenade and went to the evening's show which was El Gaucho which was a little bit of music, comedy and some work with the rope. We then had dinner and later that evening we went to the 70's disco party on the Royal Promenade which we found since the shows were sill open to be rather small and cramped for a party which may have been better to have had on the upper deck by the pool. It was then to bead as the next day was the first of three port days. Tuesday was the first of three days in port after breakfast went up on deck to watch our arrival at the Royal Caribbean built dock at the historic town of Falmouth, Jamaica this time the ship was backed into the port. Once we were cleared to debark we got off and proceeded to join our shore excursion which was an excellent trip to the Duns River Falls our guide Charm and our driver Peter were terrific as they brought us to the Falls where we were introduced to Tamara Douse who is the only female guide at the falls who brought us up the falls safely and it was a memorable experience on the way back to the ship we stopped at Columbus Park for a chance to have some Jamaican Barbeque. The excursion returned us to the ship by 2:00 PM which gave us time to clean up and get off the ship to check out the shops returning to the ship at 4:30 PM. At 6:00 PM we went up on deck to watch the ship sail off. Although we had tickets for the 9:00 PM Ice Show that would have meant having diner at 7:00 PM and we were not yet hungry so we went to Studio B where we were permitted to attend the 7:00 PM show since it was not "sold out". While it was strange to be watching a skating show while sailing the Caribbean the show was outstanding was the best show we attended on the entire cruise. Then we had dinner and went to bed since it was going to be an early arrival at our next port of call. Wednesday morning had us getting up early since it was an early arrival in our next port which was on Grand Cayman since the island doe not have a port our ship had to anchor off shore and every one was brought over in small ferries. It was here we were joined by sister ship Jewel of the Seas and Holland America's Westerdam. unlike the Holland America's ship which carries it's own tenders we had to use local ferries that tendered everyone to shore in groups of 200. Even tough our shore excursion was not until 10:00 AM we came ashore early so that we could do some shipping in the port. The shore excursion was Turtle, Stingray Land and Sea Adventure. Our guide LeRoy was good the trip started with a visit to a place called Hell that was only worth visiting due to it's unique name we then vested the Tortuga Rum Cake factory which was basically a store where you can try Rum or Rum Cake and was very crowded. The next stop was the Turtle farm which was very interesting. The last stop was at our excursion boat which took us out to Sting Ray City which is a sandbar where you can get in the water and encounter the Sting Rays after about an hour we returned to meet our guide who got us back to the port to get in line to be transferred back to the ship after getting cleaned up we went up to the Windjammer to get some lunch as we watched the Caymans Sail off into the horizon. For our sail to Cozumel we were joined by the Jewel and Westerdam. That evening we attended the concert by a band called Revolution which was a" Beatles Tribute" band that was very good since we did not want to get dressed as it was smart causal night and did not like the selections in the dining room we decided to have dinner in the Windjammer and at 11:00 PM we went to the pool deck to attend the deck party and to have snacks. Thursday we woke up got dressed had breakfast and as the ship was arriving in Cozumel, Mexico where in addition to the Jewel and Westerdan we were joined by Carnival's Triumph. We repotted to the Metropolis Theater where every one who was going on an excursion was given a sticker so they would no who was being transferred to the mainland we were then escorted off the ship first and transferred to a dedicated ferry which brought us the Play Del Carmen where we met our tour guide Andres who brought us to our motor coach for our 90 minute drive to Coba which was one of the many Mayan cities located through the Yucatan Peninsula it was very interesting as we were given a tour of the ruins than we got back on the coach and brought back to Playa del Carmen where we were brought to a restaurant that was in a former cave for lunch and a Mayan Cultural Show and were than brought back to the ferry for transfer back to the Navigator. The trip would have been better if the lunch and show were replaced with a stop where we could have had lunch have done some shopping. The dedicated ferry got us back to the ship a little after 5:30 PM which gave us time to get ready for the last formal night where we attended a show called All Access and then had dinner in the main dining room where we asked by our head waiter and table waiter to make sure you give the food service good rating on the survey. Friday we were at sea and we had planned on going to the pool however the ship had encountered a frontal system with high winds and rough seas and as a result the pools and the upper decks were closed. This also resulted in the Walk for Whishes to be cancelled. After breakfast we did one last round of shopping on the Royal Promenade we went a played some bingo. After lunch in the Windjammer we completed our packing and prepared our bags to be picked up, we gave our room steward his tip and returned our surveys. We then went to the farewell show featuring the comedy of Bud Andersen which was terrific and the final farewell number featured the entertainment staff and some of the ships crew along with a taped farewell message from the Captain we then had one final dinner returned to our room to put our bags out had one last drink in the Cosmopolitan Club and then it was off to bed as it would be an early day. Saturday was another early wake up as we were scheduled to arrive in New Orleans at 6:00 AM. We had one last breakfast in the Windjammer then returned to our room to make sure we had packed every thing grabbed our carry on's and since we decided to take a New Orleans City tour with an airport transfer we reported to the Metropolis Theatre where were given a stick identifying us as taking the city tour and were escorted off the Navigator one last time. When we arrived in the baggage area only one of our bags was in the designated area. I then approached a porter who said that some times the tags come off the bags and directed me to the area where the bags without tags would be left I went there still no bags I then approached anther representative with the port agent who was basically of very little help sting they would only assist once all the bag's were off loaded while waiting I noticed a large number of bags under zones whose passengers would have all ready debarked from the ship so I started looking and found our other bag without tag placed in a different zone location instead of in the area for bags without tags. We then proceeded through customs and out to where our motor coach was our guide Chris was ok but the tour gave us a chance to see the rest of the city by 12:00 Noon we were dropped at the New Orleans Airport for our flight home. Overall we thought the cruise was good but was not as good as Carnival which offers better food service than Royal Caribbean would we sail again on Royal Caribbean we would but only if Royal Caribbean was the only option. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
First thing I want to mention is how incredible the crew was considering the ship had norovirus present, the cruise before us has over 100 cases, the virus was all but gone when we disembarked. We had to board late due to sanitizing the ... Read More
First thing I want to mention is how incredible the crew was considering the ship had norovirus present, the cruise before us has over 100 cases, the virus was all but gone when we disembarked. We had to board late due to sanitizing the ship but that was a minor inconvenience. We were a party of 4, in two staterooms and none of us caught the bug. :) Yeah! Royal Caribbean notified us of the virus before we left for the port and that there was a delay boarding. They were professional and everything was super clean. Us two couples travel together cruising and on land and we had a great time. We drove to the port and spent one night in New Orleans, boarding was late but efficient considering the extra precautions due to Norovirus. The windjammer was not open at the time of boarding which I thought was poor planning. They opened the windjammer (buffet dining) at 2:00 which meant everyone was on board and very hungry. Norovirus on board meant that they had to serve us in the buffet lines and the biggest problem was rude inpatient cruisers. We were all in the same boat (so to speak) and they had plenty food, people were just impatient, these people complained and were impatient the entire cruise, even though the Captain and crew were working hard to keep us all healthy. I had no complaints except chapped hands from an allergic reaction to hand sanitizer. Food was good but not great, I found it was not as good as our first cruise on Navigator of the seas in 09. NOS Captain was highly concerned about the virus and it was handled well. The port of New Orleans is nice for the New Orleans experience. The port itself was like navigating through a maze. Navigator is in the voyager class, has plenty to offer- multiple pools one of them an adults only pool with large hot tubs in the area, spa, beautiful 3 level dinning room, casino,clubs, and 24 hour cookie and snack shop on the Royal Pramenade. I had heard there are no quiet spots on mega ships, not true, there are numerous seating areas you can quietly sit back and relax. We found one next to the sky bar and played cards when we had extra time or wanted to unwind, just the 4 of us. We also had our private balconies. Our cabins we were on deck 8, room 8603, balcony room, great clean room, comfortable bed and quiet location. We were around the corner from the elevators but had no noise from that,we have booked same general area and we will continue to book this area, close to elevators and the internet cafe. I did not pack my own computer but enjoyed a few minutes to check on my family back home from the internet cafe. Speaking of internet is is slow, all ships have slow internet, you just expect that from a ship internet. The entertainment was a comedian who was very good his name is Scott Record but and an Elvis impersonator, he was talented guy but I do not enjoy a tall skinny Elvis as my headliner entertainment. The ship crew shows were OK, usual show for RCI. We always do the Ice Show, which is excellent, Love and Marriage show (always a blast) and the QUEST!!! A MUST SEE! (for adults ONLY!) There are two formal nights on the 7 night cruise, some still wear Tuxedos and Gowns, I prefer a nice cocktail dress. Our ports were Falmouth Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, and Cozumel. Falmouth is still a port being developed and there is not that much do to there. Grand Cayman is beautiful and rich, which is why it stands out from other islands. Cozumel is typical tourist local with plenty to offer. We docked at Falmouth and Cozumel and had to tender to Grand Cayman. The tendering process was easy even though we were doing it during a storm. No problems at the ports getting on or off the ship. The Navigator is showing her age a little bit, I believe she is on the list to be refurbished, I think this was more apparent since we were just on a newer larger ship 6 months before this cruise. I would recommend this ship for a family, couple, or group of friends who want an affordable enjoyable week away in the beautiful Blue Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We picked this cruise to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary; we were married onboard Enchantment of the Seas 12/15/07. Decided to sail on Navigator because she was sailing out of New Orleans, which allowed us to drive down from ... Read More
We picked this cruise to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary; we were married onboard Enchantment of the Seas 12/15/07. Decided to sail on Navigator because she was sailing out of New Orleans, which allowed us to drive down from Missouri. The drive was not bad, split up into a couple of days. Stayed at Springhill Suites by Marriott in NOLA the night before the cruise (rate $80 by using hotwire.com). Parked at Fulton Place Parking Garage for $12/day, which was walking distance to hotel. So, parked at the garage when we arrived on Friday and there was a little confusion with trying to locate the parking garage office but finally figured it out. Ate dinner at Cochon which was just a few blocks from the hotel. Saturday morning walked over to Riverwalk to see the sites and view the ship as it was too early to go to the pier for pre-boarding process. Around 11am made our way back to the parking garage to catch the shuttle to the pier. Upon arrival, our check-in process went pretty quick and we were onboard eating lunch at Windjammer by noon. Got to our stateroom at 1 and at 1:30 our luggage was delivered, quickest delivery ever! Many of our dinner mates told stories about delays at the pier and still hadn't received their luggage by 6pm. I think our key to success was arriving around 11:30, later than the early birds but earlier than the later arrivals so it worked well for us. This is the largest ship we have been on and it was at first overwhelming. But thanks to the maps near the elevators we were able to "navigate" Navigator fairly easy. I thought it was comical that the carpet in the elevators had the day of the week on it, until around Tuesday when I was thankful to know which day it was. Afterall, every day is Saturday when you are on vacation! Our stateroom attendant, Russell, was great! We requested an ice bucket and every day he filled it with ice during the day and at night. When he was out and about and saw us walking toward the cabin, he had his key ready and opened the door for us - so helpful! Only ate in the main dining room the first two nights, then ate at windjammer, Johnny Rockets, and Chops on the other nights. Pre-paid gratuities so didn't have to worry about handing out the envelopes on the last night. Had room service delivered (free!) every morning, just coffee, oj, and milk. This is a great service and we tipped the delivery person a few bucks each morning. I really miss that coffee delivery, it was great to wake up & have some coffee while getting ready for the day. Then, had real breakfast at windjammer a little later in the morning. One afternoon we had lunch in the dining room, they have a fantastic little salad bar where you pick the ingredients and they mix your salad for you. So good. Other days we had lunch in the windjammer, Johnny Rockets, and/or on shore while in port. We registered for the meet & mingle in advance and participated in the roll call threads prior to the cruise. Met a great, fun couple at meet & mingle that we ended up hanging out with throughout the week, and we feel we have made friends for life! Falmouth, Jamaica - the pier area was nice and we took excursion to Red Stripe Beach ($24 per person). Nice beach area but the drive there shows a bit of the real Jamaica. The staff we encountered at the pier and during the excursion to the beach were super nice. I would not, however, feel safe just out and about walking around the town. The pier area is a gated, guarded compound as was the beach area. Grand Cayman - fantastic! On one of our previous cruises the port call was cancelled due to rough seas (can't tender if waves are too rough) so I was so excited to finally make it onshore at the cayman's. We met another couple during the meet & mingle on Day 2, so the four of us decided to get together and hire a driver to show us the island for the afternoon. Saw some great sites, stopped at the rum cake factory for rum cakes & rum, as well as the brewery for a beer. Ate lunch at a restaurant just outside the pier area before getting back on the ship. Stopped at Margaritaville for some t-shirts. Cozumel - our new friends that we met at meet & mingle told us about Nachi Cocom, a private beach club that costs around $55 per person for the day. All-inclusive drinks & food, it was a bargain. You don't reserve Nachi Cocom onboard the ship though, you have to reserve online before you arrive. Our friends added our reservation for us the day before, once we arrive at Grand Cayman. Took a cab to the beach club, taxi cost was $15 each way for our group of 4. Upon arrival to Nachi Cocom, drinks were ordered and delivered to our spot often. We rented one of those large rafts that's tethered in the water just off the beach for $40 for the day. Had a fantastic authentic Mexican lunch, also included in the daily fee. Try the dirty monkey drink if you visit Nachi Cocom, it's similar to a mudslide. Drank way too much but didn't have to drive so all was good. Took taxi back to the pier and our new friends did some jewelry shopping while we went back to the ship. All in all, this was a great cruise on Navigator. Would definitely sail again from NOLA on this ship or any other ship from that port, as it is an easy drive from our home in Missouri. Will still consider Florida sailings as well though. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Part I - Precruise A. Inception We are avid Caribbean cruisers. Two years ago, we spent Christmas and New Year's in the Caribbean on the Celebrity Mercury (which, sadly, sailed for the last time under that name in February 2011); ... Read More
Part I - Precruise A. Inception We are avid Caribbean cruisers. Two years ago, we spent Christmas and New Year's in the Caribbean on the Celebrity Mercury (which, sadly, sailed for the last time under that name in February 2011); last year, we spent Christmas in the Caribbean on Celebrity's Millennium; and this year, we wanted to do it again. We looked at all cruise lines, and wanted another 14-day cruise, but the way that Christmas and New Year's are on the calendar this year, a 14-day cruise would've taken our son out of too much school, so we booked a 7-day cruise. We settled again on either Royal Caribbean or Celebrity (the only lines we have cruised on) because of their itineraries and schedules. We prefer to drive to the East Coast for our cruises, but that wasn't an option this year. B. Cruise Critic We use the community chat boards on cruisecritic.com extensively for cruise port hints and information. This review is my way of sharing. Thank you to everyone who shared in their reviews and roll calls. C. Choice of Route Our route was out of New Orleans (very excited about that again. New Orleans is a wonderful city!), to Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; and George Town, Grand Cayman. We have been to most of these ports of call before, but not in a while, so we were excited about seeing them again. We have been to Jamaica before, but not to Falmouth, so that should be interesting. D. Choice of Cruiseline and Ship We selected Royal Caribbean because we found out during our Celebrity Cruise last year that if we spent even 1 day on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, we would be Diamond members. Navigator, a Voyager Class ship, is a 138,000 ton ship with 15 decks, 10 pools & whirlpools, and 16 bars, clubs & lounges. It has a rock wall, a basketball court, an ice-skating rink, and a mini-golf course. Capacity is 3,114 passengers plus a crew of 1,185. It was launched in 2002, is registered in the Bahamas and has a CDC score of 96. E. Choice of Airline This was pretty easy. We picked the cheapest, most direct flight from Milwaukee to New Orleans. I have lots of miles on Delta, so we used them to book the 4 tickets, so they cost us only $40 out of pocket total. Flying hints: 1. Don't fly if you have a choice. I suggest driving if you can. 2. Go non-stop if you fly. Each connection increases the possibility of lost luggage and additional flight delays. 3. Consider flying in to your departure port one day early. This can be a major stress reducer! 4. Don't select your airline seats without first visiting SeatGuru.com. They have detailed airplane seating plans and hints about each seat for almost every plane flown by major airlines. F. Choice of cabin Generally, the lower your cabin and the more central its location, the less you will feel the movements of the ship. We love rocking and so did not mind being closer to the back of the ship. We always stay in inside cabins (unless something strange happens) because it is nice to be able to sleep in without worrying about the sun shining in the window. A recommendation to anyone in an inside cabin is to bring a clock. It can be very disconcerting to wake up and have absolutely no idea what time it is. We were in cabins 7345 & 7347, both interior staterooms (N). My husband and I were in one and our 17-year-old son and his 15-year-old friend (a first-time cruiser) was in the other. Royal Caribbean allows minors to stay together in a cabin if it is adjacent to their guardians' cabin. It took a few requests to ensure that we were in the right cabins (they originally wanted to book one adult and one minor in each cabin), but it ended up working out. G. Price We went to a local Travel Agent who specializes in cruises (as we always do for cruises). The cost, because it was over the holidays, was high at just over $1,000 per person. The flights were $40 for all four of us because I used my Delta miles to pay for them. Additionally, because of when we booked, we received a $100 on-board credit (OBC) for each cabin, so that was nice. I also use the Royal Caribbean Credit Card, so we got another $250 OBC from that. H. Passports We all have passports and encountered no problems. I did bring extra documentation for my son's friend. I brought a detailed (notarized) letter from his parents saying that we could take him on this specific ship, that we could take him into these specific countries, that we could make medical decisions for him, that we would supervise him, and that we would be able to sign for permission for onboard activities (like climbing the rock wall). I got all of this information from the RCCL website, but it wasn't easy to find. I. Insurance We also purchased travel insurance because we never know when our son might wind up in a cast or one of our aging parents might have a health crisis. J. Prebooking Excursions We booked all of our excursions on our own. I did research beforehand and we decided what to do from there. I do not like using the ship's excursions because they are usually expensive; I do recommend them, though, for novice cruisers. K. Packing We packed for 2 formal nights (we all brought nice outfits -- the boys wore what they wore to their Homecoming dance, my husband wore a shirt and tie (and pants) and I brought nice clothes), and the rest at various levels of casual (non-jean pants and nice shirts for all of us). Additionally, we brought enough clothing to cover us during the day for 7 days. This is less than you think because clothing rarely gets really dirty and we tend to re-wear clothes a few times before it goes in the "to be washed at home" luggage. (NOTE: My son has apparently outgrown the "re-wear your clothes" phase and decided to pack different clothes for every day. We made him carry them all in his luggage.) Among the most helpful "extra items" we packed were: extension cords and power strips for each room (usually, there are only 2 outlets in the room and we have lots to charge), alarm clock, bug lotion, sunscreen ranging from 100 to 15 spf, highlighters, beach bag, and water shoes. We also brought Christmas decorations for each room, as well as Cruise Critic door signs printed off of the roll call lists. Part II - Embarkation A. The Port We flew into New Orleans via Atlanta and arrived at 3:30pm the day before the cruise departed. You have a choice of buying transfers from Royal Caribbean, catching a taxi or hiring a car. We used taxis to and from our hotel (in the French Quarter). B. Security Processing and Boarding We arrived at the pier at 2:30pm, hoping that there would be no wait, but there was a long line for security screening. But because we were Emerald Club members, we bypassed all of that and had absolutely no line. Once through security, there were separate lines for non-Crown & Anchor Society (C&AS) members and Gold C&AS members, and all other C&AS members. All lines were kinda long and fed into a table of folks processing your boarding documents. Assuming you had already completed all the documents requested online, signing in and getting room keys (which is also your cruise ID, and ship credit card) took no more than 10 minutes. There was a quick wait for the embarkation cruise photo (which we skipped). On-board and our cruise cards were quickly data-encrypted with our images at one of three stations. Once they handed us our cards we found ourselves on the 4th floor aft lobby of the ship. It took a total of 60 minutes from the time we arrived at the pier to our arrival in our cabins. I was surprised that I was never asked for the paperwork for my son's friend. At no point in the cruise (embarkation, disembarkation or anywhere in between) did anyone ask for it. However, I have heard from others that this is not always the case, so I would recommend that anyone taking a minor non-family member get the required paperwork. C. Explore The Cabins We were in cabins 7345 & 7347, side-by-side, inside category N cabins in the back of the ship. The cabins are each 150.7 square feet and were set up for my husband and I to sleep in one big bed and my son and his friend to each have their own. The bathroom has enough room, and the shower was very nice. Our bathroom had a reasonably large shower (no bath), hair dryer, large mirror, sink, toilet, and some pretty decent storage. Something new since the last time we were on a ship: a nightlight we could use in the bathroom or main cabin. We used it in the bathroom so we wouldn't have to turn the lights on at night. Hangers were provided in the cabin, as was a welcome gift: a bottle of Evian water, some key lime cookies and a small package of candied fruit. The room safe is located in the cabinet. In the closet there are shelves for organizing your stuff. The desk featured a number of informational brochures including that day's event newsletter. The cabins also have a TV, thermostat, phone (but no clock, although you can set your phone for an automated wake-up call), and a mini-bar (small refrigerator). Being Emerald Club members, we requested and were given robes for use on board. We also received a discount booklet with coupons for beverages, Johnny Rockets, photos, internet, laundry, casino, bingo, gift shop, art, jewelry temporary tattoos, the spa, etc. Having signed up for the Meet & Mingle party, we received invites to the following day's gathering. Being members of the C&AS, we were also given invitations to a number of different events during the cruise. Our stateroom attendant, Orson from St. Vincent & the Grenadines, did a wonderful job throughout our cruise. D. Tour of Ship and Search For Food We almost found sustenance in the Windjammer Cafe on the deck 11 for a 3:45pm buffet lunch, but the Cafe closed for the 4:00pm Muster until 6:30pm. This was inconvenient as I hadn't eaten lunch and now could not find any until later in the evening. It is possible that the Promenade Cafe (on Deck 5) was open, but I wasn't aware of it at the time. The ship is well laid out with ample sets of stairwells and elevators. I tried to take the stairs as much as possible (and pretended that this was sufficient exercise to cover my food intake). E. Muster/Sailaway About one hour prior to leaving port, we participated in the mandatory lifeboat drill. The drill went smoothly and lasted 40 minutes. We are very happy at the changes that have been made in the muster drill as we no longer have to get our lifejackets and wear them to the muster, but we did have to stand outside waiting for everyone to show up. It was a good opportunity to meet people. We had a Cruise Critic get-together at the Sky bar right after muster. I asked people to wear red so that we could identify each other. I also brought nametags. About 10 people showed up -- it was a great opportunity for some of the teenagers to meet each other and start hanging out. It takes 7 hours to get through the Mississippi River from NOLA to the Gulf. The scenery was magnificent on the way out. F. Dinner -- 8:30pm Late Seating We selected the late seating. We were seated at table 366 with seating for 8 at an oval table on the lower floor (3) of the Nutcracker Restaurant. Our server, Vipin from India, and his assistant, Kiara from Peru, did a very good job throughout our cruise. Our tablemates were a dating couple (in their 20s) and their parents who spend ½ the year in Wisconsin (which is, I suspect, how we were paired up because we are from Wisconsin). They were delightful people and dinner conversation never lagged. The two-story restaurant has a seating capacity of 1,000+ passengers at each seating. Of note: jeans, t-shirts, tank tops, swimsuits, robes, and bare feet are prohibited in the Dining Restaurant at all times. Shorts are permitted at lunch only. However, we did see a number of people wearing jeans (our teenagers did on a regular basis), shorts and t-shirts for dinner even on formal nights. Part III - Food! Royal Caribbean's meals met our expectations. There was good variety. There are 2 specialty restaurants on the ship--Chops Grille Steakhouse and Portofino Italian Restaurant. There is a per-person fee for these restaurants. There is a for-fee Johnny Rockets and Ben & Jerry's. Free food is available in the main dining room, The Windjammer, Jade, Cafe Promenade and room service (for-fee late at night). We did not feel the need to eat at any of the specialty restaurants for dinner because the food in the main dining room was sufficient. A. Always Available On the Vitality menu every day were the following items: Traditional Caesar Salad, Linguini with Pomodoro Sauce, Broiled Filet of Atlantic Salmon, Grilled Chicken Breast with Rosemary, Grilled Black Angus Steak, Top Sirloin with Herb Butter, and sides of Mashed Potatoes, Rice, and Vegetable of the Day. B. Our Favorite Breakfast Items I enjoyed the fresh-squeezed orange juice (US$4), but I also loved the availability of English muffins and corned beef hash at the buffet. There was a large variety of foods, including many Asian foods, for breakfast. I liked the Mango Water, too. C. Our Favorite Lunch Items I enjoyed tremendously the Indian food at the Jade restaurant. There was also hamburgers and mashed potatoes, and chicken. D. Our Favorite Appetizer My son liked the Onion Tart, while I appreciated the wide variety of salads. We all loved the escargot and the endless supply of bread that day (to sop up all of the garlic butter!). E. Our Favorite Soups My son loved the cold soups, while I liked the warm ones. My son's friend declared the Potato with jalapeo to be a winner. F. Our Favorite Salads All of them. Honestly, the focaccia and tomato was great, but so were all the others. G. Our Favorite Entrees Any fish -- including the sea bass and the sole -- was great. The linguine was appreciated by the boys, as was the lobster tail. I loved the lamb shank and the Christmas Day turkey dinner. H. Our Favorite Desserts Cherries jubilee, crème brulee, and anything chocolate. I. Buffet I loved the warm scones available in the Windjammer. They were usually only there around 2:30-3:30pm. I also enjoyed the small sandwiches available in the Cafe Promenade on the 5th floor. The availability of Indian food was appreciated. J. Room Service We didn't use room service. Part IV - Entertainment A. Movies All the movies were shown in the Cinema. They were mostly releases from about a year ago. We did not watch any movies in the Cinema. B. Shows The Celebrity Theatre is gorgeous, with comfortable seating and good sight lines. We did not see any shows in the theater. C. Casino Large casino filled with the usual. We did not use the casino. D. Spa I did not use the spa. The prices are just too darn high. E. Outdoor Pools and Hot tubs. They were busy all day when we were at sea and the air was warm. The pools are chlorinated salt water. The hot tubs are fresh water. There are fresh water showers near each pool and hot tub. We liked that the hot tubs stayed open late -- after midnight. F. Indoor Pool and Hot Tubs The indoor pool is for adult use only. The pools are chlorinated salt water. The hot tubs are fresh water. There are fresh water showers near each pool and hot tub. We liked that the hot tubs stayed open late -- after midnight. G. In-room TV There were a number of closed-circuit ship channels and satellite stations (Global CNN, ESPN, Eye on CBS, Sky News, and a few others) available on the TV in the cabin. Pay-per-view movies were also available. You can also order room service and check your current account on the TV as well. H. Holiday Stuff The ship was decked out in its Christmas finery with a large (huge!) tree on the Promenade on deck 5 and wreaths hung there, as well. There was a large Christmas display (complete with running toy train) at the entrance to the Windjammer. There were parades every evening and Santa arrived on Christmas Day with toys for everyone from age 0-17. On Christmas Eve day, we, as Emerald members, received a plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries and cookies in our room. It was a pleasant surprise. Part V - Cruise Critic Get-Togethers A. Sailaway Party As a group, the Cruise Critic folks had arranged (on the boards) to get together at sailaway at the Sky Bar on Deck 11. About 10 showed up and we had a great time. B. Meet & Mingle Party We signed up for the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle gathering on the RCCL web site. We received an email confirmation that a party would take place. Upon our arrival in our cabin, we received an envelope containing an invitation to the party, set for 11:30 am on Sunday (our first day at sea). At the appointed time we arrived at the Dungeon. In total, about 40 folks attended. We had a great time meeting and greeting our fellow cruise critics. Light refreshments were provided. C. Slot Pull We did not arrange a slot pull. D. Cabin/Poker Crawl We did not arrange a cabin/poker crawl. Part VI - Health Concerns A. Smoking Smoking was permitted in certain areas on the ship. Although we are very sensitive to smoke, we could not detect any smoke smell in our cabin. The only place that the allowed smoking really disturbed me was in the Two Poets pub on Deck 5. Because this is an enclosed space, you could smell the smoke in many places on the Deck 5 Promenade. They had every right to smoke in the appointed areas of the ship, and unfortunately they did. B. General Cleanliness of the Ship In a word: impeccable. You could not take a stroll without witnessing some type of cleaning going on at all hours. The ship was constantly being cleaned: floors, walls, fixtures, everything! C. Viruses Although some other ships were hit with Norovirus (and it made the news) over this time, I heard of no such outbreak on our ship. E. Seasickness The seas were choppy on the last day, but I didn't notice anyone in distress. Part VII - Ship Notes A. Ship and Crew We were very impressed with the ship and crew and they were all very friendly and competent. The ship and furnishings were in very good shape. She was very clean. B. The Shops There was something on sale each day. Realize that if you forget something, you can buy it on the ship, but necessities are expensive. Deodorant, mints, dental floss, candy bars are all available, but not at a price you might want to pay. My advice: remember to bring the essentials, even if that includes M&Ms! C. Internet Service The good news: there are plenty of computer terminals with internet access on the ship. The bad news: it is expensive. D. Children Being a holiday cruise, our ship had a number of children on board. They behaved very well. Part VIII - The Ports We visited three ports. A. Falmouth, Jamaica There really is not much to do in Falmouth. Falmouth is good only in its proximity to both Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Because we did not want to sit on buses or in taxis for a long time, we did not schedule an outing. Instead, we wanted to help the local economy by shopping in the straw market just outside of the gated and fenced-in port. We wandered and bought a few things. I was not feeling well (too much heat) and so I went back to the ship early and my husband and the two teens kept shopping. At some point, my husband noticed a Jamaican police officer (there were dozens in view all around the port) taking too much interest in how much money he was carrying. Fearing a confrontation with an armed man, my husband took the boys and their shopping inside the port. We did get many Jamaican craft items before then and did enjoy the port. B. George Town, Grand Cayman We tendered off the ship at about 10:30am in Grand Cayman and found a bunch of people selling Stingray City tours. We booked one for US$40 per person, including transportation to and from the boat, 45 minutes at Stingray City, 45 minutes at a coral reef (snorkeling), snorkeling equipment, and non-alcoholic beverages. We left at 11am and were back by 2pm. It was a good trip with great experiences. C. Cozumel, Mexico We were late getting into Cozumel because of a medical situation on the ship that forced us to return to Grand Cayman immediately after leaving the port. We stayed an hour later in port, though, in an attempt to make up the time. We left the ship and caught a taxi to Paradise Beach. There, we hung out for about 4 hours. The cost to get to the beach was US$14 for a taxi of 4 people. The cost to get in was US$2 if you just wanted a chair and access to the beach, toilet, changing rooms, and pools; it was US$14 if you wanted to also play on their floating climbing things in the water, kayak, and bungee jump on the trampoline. No one bothered us on the beach and I enjoyed myself sitting under the palm trees. We had lunch which was US$91 including 15% tip (already included). Lunch was 2 smoothies, 1 daquiri and 1 margarita, ceviche platter, nacho platter, and 2 large chicken burritos. It was easy to catch a cab back (US$14) to the International Pier and then shop a bit (Los Cinco Soles has a branch at the pier now, along with many other shops) before we got back on the ship. I. Days At Sea Between ports, we had three at sea days. They were good, although the first and last days were a bit chilly (in the 70s) and windy, so sunbathing wasn't a given. J. Speakers/Entertainment We really didn't pay much attention to these on this trip. Part IX - Tipping The service personnel on Royal Caribbean receive meager wages and rely on your tips for income. While Royal Caribben says it is customary to offer gratuities to the ship's personnel who service you on the voyage, it really is expected, and it's something you should figure into your cruise budget. Our tips were paid on our cruise charge which was what our personnel preferred (we asked) rather than cash. We did tip extra to everyone for their good work. On our evaluation, we also included the names of people who had gone that extra mile for us. We have heard in past cruises that this is a great way to recognize people and it can result in a monetary bonus for people whose names are written down often. Part X -- Crown & Anchor Society On this cruise, we were select members and so we received a "Welcome Letter" which invited us to a events on the cruise. If you have taken a previous voyage and are not a member of the Crown & Anchor Society, sign up. It's free. Benefits include a express lines at embarkation, priority disembarkation, some small cabin welcome gifts, very minor casino, wine and spa discounts, a cocktail party, and upgrades (whenever possible). Some exclusions apply. Part XI - Disembarkation and Customs A. Disembarkation Disembarkation ("exiting of the ship at the end of your cruise"). Breakfast was served on the buffet and in the restaurant. Disembarkation went smoothly. Earlier in the week, everyone completed surveys which were used to prioritize passengers. Clearly those folks needing to catch plane and train connections or who were on escorted tours in New Orleans had highest priority. Crown & Anchor Society members had priority within their color group. Color-coded disembarkation luggage tags were issued to all cabins, and passengers were instructed to place the tags on their luggage and put it outside their cabins prior to 11:00pm Friday night. We were self-disembarking which meant we carried all of our luggage (not easy with 4 backpacks, 5 carry-ons and only 4 people, but we made it. We met on the 4th floor at 7:45am after breakfast and were off the ship, through customs and immigration and outside the pier by 8:30am. B. Customs US citizens are permitted 1 liter of alcohol and $800 worth of Duty Free goods per person. If under the limit, all you needed to do was to declare the total value. Anything greater had to be itemized (declared) and a duty paid, if requested. C. Transportation Options to Airport There were transfers available through the cruise line which would take you on bus to the local airport, taxis were available, as were hotel shuttles. We chose to take a taxi and it was $62 (with tip) for 4 people from the cruise terminal to the airport. D. New Orleans Airport Upon arrival at the airport, we proceeded to the Delta check-in. It took us less than 15 minutes to turn in our bags and less than 10 minutes to clear security. Delta charges $25 per checked bag (of less than 50 lbs) for the first checked bag per person. We checked 1 bag for $25. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Background on me: Experience cruiser with over 20 cruises on a variety of lines and I have never been on a bad cruise. I am male, 50, traveling with spouse and two boys ages 14 and 12. We have sailed out of New Orleans many times (we ... Read More
Background on me: Experience cruiser with over 20 cruises on a variety of lines and I have never been on a bad cruise. I am male, 50, traveling with spouse and two boys ages 14 and 12. We have sailed out of New Orleans many times (we live in NO) and find the best time to get to the port is about 11:00 AM. This year we arrived about 11:20 and were in the Windjammer by 12. Also if you are a past cruiser register with the Crown and Anchor program by RC, there is another line for C&A members and it is much shorter than general boarding. My brother arrived at the Port about 1:00 and it took him over two hours to get on the ship. Alcohol tip here, if you want to bring extra wine on the ship. Just put two bottles in your carry on, but have your spouse go through another security line with another two bottles in their carry on. We got four bottles of wine on board, but could have brought much more, no one pays any attention in security to who is with who, just don't put more than two bottles in each bag. Also, we brought two case of water on board that we checked at the pier and both made it to our cabins. I met someone on board who paid $88 for the "water package" this seems pretty high to me for water. Also did not buy the new drink package as it is just way to expensive considering all adults in one cabin have to purchase this package. A big problem at the pier is many people do not have luggage tags and this takes the Porters about 2 minutes per bag to tag causing a back up. RC may be saving money by not sending these luggage tags (I know you can print them) but it is adding much delay to the boarding process. If you are arriving by cab your driver will simply drop you off at the curb, if you are driving you will be parking in the Whale lot, just ask and an officer will direct you. You can also have your luggage taken here and it is just about a five minute walk to the ship. Parking is about $112 for the week paid in advance. Having sailed on the Voyager last year (and loved it) I found this ship, The NOS to be just as beautiful. We had an outside balcony on deck 8 and the room was clean and your typical cruising cabin. However, my boys ages 14 and 12 had an inside cabin with a view of the Promenade deck. This was a very nice feature and the noise never woke anyone up or keep them awake. We choose two cabins over one because we felt the extra bathroom was better than just upgrading to a suite. The extra bathroom and extra cabin IMO is the way to go for families if you can. Once again the ship is clean and very beautiful, but I won't sail this class of ship again, having sailed on the VOS last year, this seemed like the same exact ship from last year and I discovered what I like is exploring and learning a new ship on my cruises. The food in the dining room is some bad, some good, some excellent. Ask you waiter, he knows what is good. We ate in Chops one night and thought is was a waste of money. The filet in Chops was excellent, but everything else (the sides) was also available at some time in the MDR. Also, on most nights the food in the Windjammer is the same exact food being served in the MDR. Breakfast is the same EVERY day and gets very boring toward the end of the cruise. Never ate breakfast in MDR but they have nice lunches in the MDR and the Tuttie salad bar is outstanding. I really miss the fact that the VOS and NOS have no grill around the pool. I just love the smell of those hamburgers grilling as I lounge around the pool. Both my kids had fun and enjoyed the teen programs. However, we won't sail again on a ship unless it has a better pool area. This ship only has two small pools with hot tubs, no slides or other H2O areas for the kids to play. The shows were really bad and your typical cruise ship shows, however the ice show was very nice and is the only must see show of the week. I think RC could do a better job of giving out tickets rather than making you go wait in line for them on your first sea day. The lounges really stink of smoke and were kind of boring, not much going on in them. Found a great new place to go on Couzmel called Paradise beach, a great place and found for the kids with tons of stuff to do. Also, do Dunns River falls in Falmouth, it was outstanding. Overall a good ship and a great time, if you have questions just ask. PG Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We arrived in NOLA 2 days prior to our December 29th sailing aboard the Navigator of the Seas. We enjoyed our time in NOLA despite the rain and cold weather. We went to the cruise terminal a little early on the morning of our departure ... Read More
We arrived in NOLA 2 days prior to our December 29th sailing aboard the Navigator of the Seas. We enjoyed our time in NOLA despite the rain and cold weather. We went to the cruise terminal a little early on the morning of our departure but it really paid off because there were no lines and we quickly boarded without a hitch. Once aboard we had to wait a little while for our cabins but that was no problem because the Windjammer opened and we enjoyed a nice lunch while we waited. Although we didn't leave the port until around 5:30 that afternoon we took that time to become aquainted with the ship. By the time we left it was time for our dinner. We found the main dining room and the dining room personnel to be top notch. We enjoyed every meal we ate there and the service was superior. The staff did everything they could to make our dining experiences as perfect as they could and we had no complaints. We also ate breakfast and lunch there a couple of times which were also delicious! Our cabins were interior and served us well for the time we spent in them. The first couple of days were spent at sea and they were windy and cold. Once we arrived in Jamaica the weather warmed up and was nice for each port day. The ports of call were nice and we enjoyed visiting Jamaica, The Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Jimmy our cruise director was the bomb and tried to fill every day with something that appealed to everyone. The enterainment was excellent! The parade, street party and NYE celebration were so much fun. The Navigator is a beautiful ship and her crew works hard to ensure fun, good health and safety for all! We hope to sail again with RCI! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
I am writing this review to help others that were so helpful to me during my planning as well as to give RCCL a nice Thank you - we loved our trip. I hope the cruise lines read these reviews. This is my first attempt, so please bear with ... Read More
I am writing this review to help others that were so helpful to me during my planning as well as to give RCCL a nice Thank you - we loved our trip. I hope the cruise lines read these reviews. This is my first attempt, so please bear with me. I will try to be fair - if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Stayed in New Orleans 2 nights at the Royal Sonesta - great hotel. I was given the name of Henry Lee Tennessee for shuttling purposes that was so helpful. His email is: h.tennessee@gmail.com He made our trips to and from the airport, hotel and port wonderful. He picked us up at the Royal Sonesta promptly at 11:00 am for the short trip to the port. His prices were the same as cabs but with a personal touch. Check in was effortless and easy - no lines - walked right on to the beautiful Navigator. Cabins: We had the Royal Family Suite 9394 with six adults - DM, DF, DH, DD, SIL and myself. DD and SIL slept on the pull out couch and it was a queen size pullout - very nice size. Our room steward put bed toppers on the pull out couch and the bed in the second bedroom. We had breakfast on the balcony in the mornings - weather permitting. Breakfast was fabulous, eggs, bacon, sausage, juice, coffee, fruit, ect. Other Suite perks that were enjoyed: eating lunch quietly in Portofino's (food from Windjammer),drinks in the Concierge Lounge (as well as special tender loving care from Concierge Ricardo - he was fabulous), having clothes pressed free formal nights and priority seating for the ice show - which was a nice. I cannot say enough good things about this cabin. It was more than enough room for all 9 of us to gather. My DS, DIL and Granddaughter (18 months old) were in 9397 just around the corner. Her baby monitor worked from 9394 to 9397 which was nice when she was napping. Pack-N-Play fit nicely in the corner after moving the bed and couch down a little. We celebrated New Years on the balcony together which was memorable. Never encountered any soot on our balcony, so it must have a lot to do with the wind. We did smell sewage on day 2 in the hallway aft but it was gone the next day. The balcony railing was safe for our granddaughter and she loved the room to play and walk around. Note: Nigel our room steward did a fabulous job with our suite. Our bathrooms were always sparkling, we always had plenty of towels, always plenty of ice for cocktails, and he always had a wonderful smile on his face. Ports: Falmouth Jamaica - We shopped at the port then decided to explore outside the gates. We just didn't get a warm and fuzzy feeling on the outside of the gates so we went back to the ship and enjoyed the empty pool on-board. It was a beautiful warm day. Grand Cayman - the kids went to Seven Mile Beach and DH and I took our granddaughter shopping in town. We enjoyed the roosters walking around town and had Dairy Queen - doesn't take much to make an 18 month old happy. Cozumel - did a beach excursion with RCCL - Playa Mia Beach Break. It included drinks (alcohol and non)all day and the use of all of their facilities. We ordered off the menu right from our beach chairs and the food was good. We did a cab to and from and it was $30.00 plus tip for 6 adults and child each way. We will do this beach break again when we are in Cozumel as it fit our family well. Children's pool and play area was so much fun for B but she also loved the sand and swimming in the ocean. Food: We did MTD. I think I didn't do enough research on this area. I thought that 5:30 was too early and 8:00 pm to late with our granddaughter so I went with MTD. I thought that we could get a 7:00 or 7:15pm but that was not to be. They tried very hard to accommodate us and every night we had 6:15 or 6:30. Our granddaughter did very well in the dining room but we did bring an IPAD so she could watch her favorite video (low sound of course). We never had to wait for our table and as we left every night, we just schedule for the next night. Food was good. The first nights pork was terrible but the lobster night was great. We had shrimp cocktails every night and they were wonderful. The steak that was offered nightly was not great but one night they offered Filet of Beef and it was delicious. Overall, I think the food was a little better than Carnival but a little less than Princess. Note: Roxanne and Americo our table stewards were wonderful. Roxanne always had chicken tenders waiting for our granddaughter which was a huge help. Americo made sure my coke was never empty and knew which roll I wanted after the second night. Just sweet, warm, gracious people working so very hard to make sure our vacation was wonderful. We had pizza and cookies nightly after gambling which was fun. Carnival's pizza is much better. Breakfast on the balcony was fabulous. The food was always hot and delicious. They always called before delivering which we really liked, as we used that as a wake-up call. Coffee was very good but very strong. Toast was terrible - not sure where that bread comes from but the bagels were great. We never found a crowd in the Windjammer and I thought the choices were great. Love the salad bar. We had lunch at Johnny Rockets - the milkshake was wonderful. We had level 2 for departure and it went smoothly. Wheelchairs were available for my parents and porters were easily available. My parents would have been fine without the wheelchairs but we just didn't know how long we would have to stand and wait. Henry Lee Tennessee was waiting for us and we were off to the airport. We didn't get to have a Bridge Tour which was one of my parents special requests. Due to the Noro Virus that the NAV had been battling lately they were not offering them. We did not see or hear of anyone sick with the Noro so whatever they had been doing to combat that bug was working. My parents did receive a beautiful glass frame from RCCL/Ricardo for their 65th Wedding Anniversary. That was a lovely gift and they loved it. I will be happy to answer any questions concerning babies, seniors, ect. This was the second cruise for our granddaughter - we took her last year on the Carnival Miracle when she was 6 months old. She has cruised both trips without any problems. We did not use the in-room babysitting or children's programs on either cruises due to her age. Both Carnival and RCCL were more than accommodating with our granddaughter. We have been on Carnival 3 times, Princess 2 times and this was our first RCCL as well as our first suite experience. We will definitely cruise on RCCL again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We had a wonderful time and my expectations were exceeded frequently. The food in the dining room was really good and some was excellent. The buffet was good, but I didn't eat there much because the dining room was so good and so ... Read More
We had a wonderful time and my expectations were exceeded frequently. The food in the dining room was really good and some was excellent. The buffet was good, but I didn't eat there much because the dining room was so good and so relaxing. Our water and asst water (Ahmet and Alelie) took exceptionally good care of us. Our cabin steward was great, she took care of our special requests and did an excellent job. In fact, the whole crew made me feel like royalty, they really took great care of us and made us feel welcome and special. This ship is very large and had everything. The shows ranged from OK to really good. The gym was very good. I went there every day and it was sometimes busy but I was always able to do whatever exercise I wanted. Got my haircut and my DW said it was the best haircut I ever had. The promenade is really nice with shops and a 24 hour coffee/tea/sandwiches/pastries and cookies area. It also had a mini Starbucks. Royal Caribbean really won us over. Our Junior Suite on the aft of the ship was spectacular and we really enjoyed it. I could go on about how wonderful our cruise was. I really can't think of much they could have done to make it any better. I few minor items they could improve on would be to have brewed iced tea instead of made from concentrate, allow tips to be adjusted on your account instead of the all or nothing method and give receipts for tips put on your account so you can present them to the people you tip. They have a large selection of good quality tea bags available everywhere, but if you get the iced tea, it is from a concentrate. The coffee was brewed. It was a little strong for me, but that is just my preference. You have to ask for cream at your table, they just put milk on the table for your coffee. I only had one major complaint-smoking. I understand that RC tries to make both smokers and non-smokers happy, but I think they don't appreciate that you can't have it both ways. If you allow smoking in places that connect to, or are open to other areas, the smoke will naturally go to all the places. Just because you designate someplace as non-smoking doesn't mean it will be smoke free unless you don't allow smoking in areas connected to or open to that area. Balconies are part of the rooms and are connected (through the rooms) to the hallways. The bars on the sides of the promenade have large openings and doorways that open onto the promenade. The casino has a staircase leading from the middle of the casino up and onto the promenade. The casino also opens into the art studio/photograph area. The casino and bars also open onto or near the elevators and stairs. Smoking is allowed on balconies, bars and the casino. The smoke from these places doesn't stay there, it goes wherever it wants to. So when the bars and casino are open, the promenade can become smokey. When people are smoking on their balconies the smoke sometimes drifts away from the ship. Other times it goes into a neighbors balcony and other times into the hallways. If people smoke on their balconies with the balcony doors open, it can go into the room and from the room into the hallways. Many times while walking down the hallways by balcony rooms, the hallways were smokey. I was disappointed that I had to put up with smoke in the hallways and promenade. I read the smoking policy before I purchased this cruise. It gave me the impression that I would not have to put up with smoke, because it is only allowed in a few areas. I didn't expect these areas to be so connected and open to many other areas. They try to minimize the intrusion of the smoke with good air circulation and lots of air fresheners, but that just makes much of the ship smell like a casino. Royal Caribbean would have won me over as a loyal customer, if it had not been for the smoke. The trip was wonderful, but the smoking "left a bad taste in my mouth" and made me search for another cruise line for my next trip. Royal Caribbean has the departure ports, the itineraries, the ships, the staterooms and so much more that I am completely sold on. I hope they change their policy soon to be like Princess or Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
My wife and I live in the Chicago area, and last summer we started planning a winter escape for January 2013. We were mainly interested in Caribbean itineraries, but didn't care which port we cruised from. A search on the RC website ... Read More
My wife and I live in the Chicago area, and last summer we started planning a winter escape for January 2013. We were mainly interested in Caribbean itineraries, but didn't care which port we cruised from. A search on the RC website showed some very attractive pricing on the Navigator of the Seas out of New Orleans. These 7-night cruises included Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. The order in which the ports are visited varies from sailing to sailing. We selected an itinerary that started with two sea days, allowing us time to decompress and switch into cruise mode. To keep the costs low (and just to try something different), we decided to ride the Amtrak train from Chicago to New Orleans. We have been on Amtrak several times before, but never on an overnight train. This would be a new experience. If you purchase either a roomette or a bedroom on Amtrak, the fare includes meals in the dining car. The combination of an overnight train ride plus a night in New Orleans plus a 7-night cruise and finally another overnight train ride back resulted in a 10-night vacation with all but two meals included in the cost. Our train rolled out of Chicago's Union Station at 8:00 PM on Thursday Jan 10. We were in a roomette in a sleeper car. A "roomette" is a rather generous name for something that can described as two chairs (which can be converted into beds) and a sliding door. At least we were cozy and had privacy. We arrived shaken (but not deterred) in New Orleans at 3:00 on Friday afternoon, which was 30 minutes ahead of schedule. A nice thing about train travel is that the stations are usually located right in the downtown areas of their respective cities. Therefore, it was an inexpensive taxi fare to go the one mile to our hotel. We stayed at the SpringHill Suites at 301 St. Joseph Street. Breakfast was included in the room rate. The hotel was clean and well maintained, and we had no complaints with the quality of service. This hotel does not have free shuttle service, so took we a cab to the French Quarter for dinner. New Orleans is an amazing city for visitors. We had dinner at The Gumbo Shop, a very touristy restaurant, but the food was good and reasonably priced. Afterwards we walked around the French Quarter. There were several street performers out and about. I had a Hurricane at Pat O'Briens and we enjoyed the dueling pianos. My wife was both amused and appalled by all the bizarre souvenirs for sale in the shops. We sampled only a fraction of what New Orleans had to offer, but we managed to enjoy ourselves thoroughly. We were back at the hotel before things got too wild. The weather forecast was predicting heavy fog for the next morning, and I went to bed worried that our ship would be delayed. I woke up around 6:00 AM to the sound of a deep ship's horn in the distance. I looked out the window, and it was indeed foggy. I heard the horn again. I couldn't be sure that it was the Navigator of the Seas, but I had a feeling it was. From that point on, I knew it was going to be good day. We were in front of the hotel and loading ourselves into a cab at 10:30 AM. The fog had burned off, and it was sunny and around 70 degrees. The ride was short, and we were at the port at 10:37. The drop off area has a nice view of the ship. We breezed through security and check-in with no lines at all. We were on board at 10:58. The security person said there were a lot of people lined up at 9:30, but they were all processed by the time we arrived. The Windjammer did not open until 11:30, so we walked the Promenade and had a quick snack at Cafe P. Some members of the Navigator of the Seas orchestra were just starting to play their Welcome Aboard set when we arrived. By 11:40 we were comfortably settled into the seats of a window table in the Windjammer. For the next hour, we ate and chatted and looked forward to our cruise. The ship was parallel parked on the side of the Mississippi River, right behind a smaller Carnival ship. In front of the Carnival ship was a large double bridge carrying a highway over the river. With the skyline, the river, and the bridge, interesting views were to be had from anywhere on the ship. This was our first time sailing out of New Orleans. Many people are unaware that New Orleans is not actually on the ocean. It is about 60 miles upriver from the mouth of the Mississippi, which means that a ship spends eight to nine hours cruising the river before reaching the Gulf of Mexico. During this time, New Orleans sales tax (9%) is added onto all purchases (including drink purchases) and the onboard shops are closed. The Cruise Compass refers to this tax as a "VAT" (value added tax), but that is just a fancy international term of a sales tax. Once we were in the Gulf, no more sales tax, or VAT, or whatever you want to call it. Note that the casino was open for business the first night. We were in an outside cabin (category F) on Deck 6. This cabin faces forward, toward the bow, with a view of the helipad. The head of the bed is against a side wall, leaving enough space beyond the bed to look out the window. It was something new for us to look out the window and see where the ship was going. I preferred this view to the side facing cabins we stayed in on previous cruises. A sign near the window explained that we had to close the curtains at night in order keep the bow dark so the bridge officers could steer the ship. I really liked this room. The walk to the elevators was not too long, and the forward elevators seemed less crowded than the aft ones. Being on Deck 6, it was only one flight of stairs down to the Promenade. On Navigator, the cafe is at the forward end the Promenade, which was very convenient. The room was quiet, and there were no issues with the plumbing or the ventilation. Our cabin attendant was competent, efficient, and cheerful. On the first day, we watched sail away with some friends who were staying in a junior suite. It was wonderful to relax on their balcony and watch as the ship left port. First it pulls away from the dock, then it has to turn completely around before starting down river. After the turn, we had a dazzling view of downtown New Orleans at sunset. At last we were cruising the Mississippi, river of legend, the Father of Waters. We sailed along, unvexed, to the sea. We had all of our dinners in the main dining room, early seating. We were at a table for four on Deck 3, actually not too far from the Captain's table. The food was good to excellent every night, and the service from our waiter and assistant waiter was superb. We had the same bar service person all seven evenings, and I was impressed with her performance. When we arrived, she was there to take our orders, and our drinks came out within minutes. When our drinks were running low, she promptly appeared to ask if we wanted more. This was a big improvement over our previous cruise, where the MDR bar service left much to be desired. Another nice thing about our dinners (at least in our section) was that the head waiter came over to chat with us every evening, and sometimes multiple times the same evening. I have been on cruises where I never even met the head waiter until the last night. Overall, I have the highest praise for our dinners on Navigator. Note that the formal nights were Day 2 and Day 6. All of our breakfasts were in the WJ. Lunch was in the WJ on port days and the MDR on sea days. I made good use of the custom salad bar in the MDR every day it was open. It had a great selection of ingredients and toppings, and getting a salad properly tossed with the dressing is a always a treat. Overall breakfast and lunch in the WJ were fine: plenty of items, a few things not that warm, but most of them okay. While most WJ selections are the same from day to day, some things do change so it pays to check carefully. One day (and one day only) I noticed Cajun pulled pork in the burger line, so I took some buns and made a couple of tasty sandwiches. By the way, each day in the Windjammer we were greeted by the most energetic and fun character on the ship. He made up songs and dances on the spot to urge people to sanitize their hands before entering. He brightened our day whenever we saw him. My wife and I made a habit of going to the WJ at 4:00 for afternoon snacks. In addition to sandwiches, they had plenty of cakes and dessert treats, and they always had one or two types of scones. It made for a nice afternoon break. I used the wireless internet every day. It was not available in the rooms, at least not in ours. The strongest signal was in Cafe P in the Promenade. One of the handouts mentioned that it should be available in the Cosmopolitan Club (AKA the Viking Crown Lounge), but I found the signal to be marginal up there. Overall, the internet speed was slow and the price high. I found it best to work offline and keep connection time as brief as possible. As for entertainment, on the first night, there was only one show in the main theater. This was at 7:45 PM. We were a bit late getting there, but found some decent seats on the side of the balcony. This was billed as the "Welcome Aboard Variety Show." It featured the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers, the Navigator of the Seas orchestra, the ballroom dancing couple of Olga and Dmitry, and the comedy of Jim McDonald. It was a nice show with a little of everything, but the dancing of Olga and Dmitry was a highlight. They are a talented couple, and they appeared in another show later in the week. They also gave ballroom dancing lessons during the cruise. On most nights, there were usually two main shows in the theater, and all of the shows were well done. Overall, the quality of the shows was above what I have seen on previous cruises. I would like to single out the Gemini Duo, who are two twin sisters who play piano and violin. They sometimes appeared in the main dining room during dinner (where it was difficult to hear them) and at other times in Bolero's. They played mostly classical music, but it was usually the livelier and better known pieces, essentially the classical top forty. At times during their set they asked for requests. Of course, listening to them in Bolero's has its drawbacks, as they had to play over some very loud conversation and the sound of the crushed iced machine. Still, they were a pleasant discovery on this cruise. We caught as many of their sets as we could. Patrice Doucet (the "Piano Man") in the Schooner Bar was good, too. He did a bit too much Neil Diamond for my taste, but he seemed to draw a fine crowd most nights. The Two Poets Pub was way too smoky for me, but as I walked by I could hear Scott Perham in there. He is a one-man bar band whose bread and butter is the Margaritaville type of ballad. I never made it to the Dungeon, nor did I get to hear the Latin flavored Tumbao Trio. The poolside band was Caribbean Force, and they did a decent job. Overall, the musical entertainment and choices were very excellent. Day 3 was the 70's disco party in the Promenade. It starts with live versions of songs by a couple of the RC singers. Then it shifts to recorded music and lip-syncing, with the heavy lifting being done by a group of faux Village People, who were amazingly energetic. Of course, the ice show was amazing, as expected. Tickets were distributed at 9:30 AM on Day 2. Our Cruise Director was John Perry, who did an acceptable job, but he didn't really stand out in any way. I was drinking mostly beers on this trip. I recall enjoying Newcastle, Corona, Becks, Red Stripe, Boddington's, Spaten, and a few others. I would advise people to keep an eye out for the beer cart. I first noticed the beer cart in front of the WJ buffet on Day 1. I also saw it several times in the lobby of the main theater before a show. It is essentially a cart with a nice selection of bottled beers, all of them priced at $3.50. After including the automatic 15% tip, that works out to $4.03 a beer, which is a great deal for a cruise ship. At the bars, the prices were higher. Our fellow passengers on this trip seemed friendly and well-mannered. I think the percentage of European passengers is less when cruising out of New Orleans than from the Florida ports. The south central states were well represented, and there were plenty of LSU T-shirts and caps to be seen. We also recognized a few passengers who were on our train from Chicago. We did not do any of the port excursions, although we walked around in each port. The ship turned its clocks back one hour to match local time in Jamaica and Grand Cayman. I was impressed with the size of the shopping compound in Falmouth, and I was glad that it included a covered area where local craftspeople can sell their wares. My wife and I purchased some inexpensive carvings directly from the artisans who made them. Grand Cayman is the only port in which we had to tender. It was a short tender, perhaps only five minutes. I was surprised at how expensive it is to get a drink in Grand Cayman. We stopped at a restaurant called Breezes, and our two Red Stripe beers (plus tip) cost us $17. Wow! Of course, there were seven cruise ships in port that day, totaling around 20,000 passengers. I hope the prices go down when the ships leave. The real bargain of Grand Cayman is the Post Office (Cardinal Ave. and Main Street), which is only a few blocks from the tender drop off point. Most of the souvenir stores wanted $1.25 to $2.50 for one post card. The Post Office was selling nice looking cards at much lower prices. I purchased six cards, plus postage to the US, for a total of $3.80, and they accepted US dollars. I wrote the cards in the restaurant and mailed them at the Post Office. I can confirm that all of them were received, with an average delivery time of eight days. I made it to the fitness center every morning for a good workout. The fitness center is on Deck 11, facing forward, with large windows that provided fantastic views ocean. I used mostly the treadmills and the cycling machines, and I never had to wait for a machine. My only criticism of the fitness center is that it includes a large whirlpool hot tub. That in itself is not a bad thing, but the tub is in the same room as the workout equipment. It raised the humidity level so that cardio workouts became much more challenging than usual. My wife enjoyed the line dancing activities. Most of these were poolside, except one day when the weather was bad. They included a lot of fun Latin dance moves, and they even included a Gangnam Style dance. There was also line dancing at the White Night poolside party, which occurred late in the evening on Day 5. It was a great deal of fun. The Navigator of the Seas is in great shape. If I looked closely, I could see a little wear and tear. For example, on one of the elevators, the button for Deck 11 was well worn. Our room had an older style TV, but our friends in the junior suite had a nice flat screen model. The quality of service was excellent (as expected), and all of the staff I interacted with were friendly and helpful. For disembarkation we ignored the announcements and just hung out in Cafe P and the Champagne Bar until 9:40 AM, when it was clear that they wanted everyone off the ship. We walked off, got our luggage, went through customs, and were in the cab line in less than 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the cab line moved slowly, and we waited in that line for about half an hour. By 10:35 we were at the Amtrak station, where we checked our bags. Then we took another cab to Harrah's to gamble and to get some lunch, as the only dining option at the station was a Subway sandwich counter. We got back in time to board our train, which left at 1:45 PM. We were back in Chicago (a very cold Chicago) at 9:00 AM on Sunday morning. We enjoyed just about everything on this trip. New Orleans is great city to cruise from, and the Navigator is a wonderful ship to sail on. Best wishes to whoever sails on her next. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
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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