6 Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas Cruise Reviews for Holiday Cruises to Caribbean - Western from New Orleans

We did RCL's New Year's Trip RT out of New Orleans. We live in the area right now, so we drove to the port. We have left out of 3 other ports including 1 outside the US and this port was the worst the leave out of. It took us a ... Read More
We did RCL's New Year's Trip RT out of New Orleans. We live in the area right now, so we drove to the port. We have left out of 3 other ports including 1 outside the US and this port was the worst the leave out of. It took us a long time to get to the parking lot, we then had to wait in a very long line (even as Gold members), and it took nearly 1.5 hours just to get on the ship. We spoke with other travelers who have experienced other ports and shared the same frustration at embarkation in NOLA. It seemed they had much fewer guest service people checking everyone in, since we sailed thru security rather quickly (once we got to that point!). The ship was decked out in holiday regalia. We absolutely hate the holidays and often try to escape to a non-christian country to avoid the cold, Christmas caroling, and what not. We were pleased that even though the ship was dressed to impress for the holidays, we did not hear any Christmas music and it was toned down the further we got into the cruise. The 3rd night, the main dining room was free of Christmas stuff entirely, and by the end of the trip the only item left visible was the tree in the Promenade. We were so grateful for that!All our days at sea were crappy weather. I know the cruise lines cannot do anything about this. They moved the majority of events from the outside into the inside or cancelled them all together. We never had a lack of something to do onboard, but would have appreciated 1 day sitting by the pool, but alas it was beautiful once we were down in the Caribbean! Our cruise directors were hilarious, personable, and we had a great time on 70's night, NYE party, and a few sail away parties camped out in the outdoor hot tubs watching the sunset. We did go see several of the shows, the Platters brought down the house! Not a dry eye in the place! The juggler was okay, the comedian was mostly funny (we were both sober, so maybe some alcohol helped). Formal nights were fun and orderly. I took 1 of the photography classes while onboard and the staff down there were wonderful. Two of the photographers were very gifted and we bought all the photos these 2 took, with the rest being rather lack luster. We really enjoy the portraits as they are framed fun memories of our adventures. The people onboard were by far the friendliest we have encountered. We met many people from all over the US. I met a fellow photographer onboard and we spent an hour on the pool deck showing me how to work my new fancy camera. We met another couple NYE night in Boleros bar near midnight and had great conversation, laughs and dancing. The celebrations on the Promenade were fun to be had by all and even though it was insanely crowded and loud, people were still nice and willing. We tolerate the Windjammer when we are too tired or don't want to think about where to round up food. (Isn't the point of a cruise to not think for a week?). Some things in the Windjammer were good, others awful, you just kind of learned what to avoid. The hand santizer guy at the Windjammer won employee of the month for his insane amount of enthusiasm in the morning getting everyone to sanitize their hands. He was awesome to wake up to every morning! We buy the soda package on these cruises and between him and the caffeine, you were moving in the morning! We did eat at Johnny Rockets 1 day for lunch, we didn't need to eat anything till our 8pm dinner and even then we weren't really hungry. Johnny Rockets is so much fun, loud, and food is good for diner food. Love the cheese fries and chocolate milk shakes. I would eat there every day just for those two things, but I would have gained 10 pounds on a weeklong cruise doing that! Lol. We also ate at Chops Grille on NYE night. We had a 6:30pm seating, and the place was empty when we got there with a few couples wandering in by 8pm when we rolled ourselves out of there. Our steaks were good, dessert phenonmenal, and we even got funky hats for NYE celebrations later. Our waitress was nice but not super informative. The very first time we had Chops on an RCL line (Serenade of the Seas in 8/09), we got "the steak talk" from our waiter. They went over the kinds of cuts, how best to cook them, etc. We have not been able to get "the steak talk" since then, and only for that reason would not rate it as the best Chops experience we have had. I would have enjoyed more interaction with our server, the host was very friendly and pleasant and spoke with us several times throughout our meal.Now the main dining room. We had the best waiter we have ever had on any ship, ever. Volcun (seriously, that's his name), was happy, energetic, happy to talk to us, polite, joked with us, and overall just a wonderful person. We never wanted for anything. We were in a back room from the main dining room, which we were initially upset about, but he more than made up for it. After we found out that RCL no longer does the Caribbean dance through the main dining room with the waiters dressed in kitchen accutreman, it didn't matter we were not in the main dining room. Our table only had 1 other couple at it, and they too helped make dinner very enjoyable each evening. We had so much fun talking to them and learning about each other. We made friends with them, and took them to the airport when we disembarked. Again, total blast for the dining room. The food on average was ok. I feel the quality and most certainly the proportions have declined. But if we didn't like something, our waiter quickly brought us something else. We would order different desserts and our waiter would bring us everything on the list just to truly each night since we had an 8 person table with only 4 people at it. I was very unhappy to find out RCL no longer prints the Gratuity Coupons to go into your envelopes on the last night onboard. We have always prepaid gratuities and If we got special attention we would throw some extra cash in there. We always enjoyed passing around the envelopes on the last night, but since we got ho-hum service from everyone except our waiter, he was the only one who got additional cash. I asked the guest services desk if the employees are told who did pre-paid gratuities, and she said no. So we wrote on our envelopes that we did not put cash in "We prepaid your tip and RCL will not print a coupon". So we were rather disappointed at that. Knowing that in the future, we will not prepay our gratuities and do strictly cash for everyone. I don't know if that was RCL's goal or not, but that is what it resulted in.Please DO NOT book excursions through Royal in Grand Cayman. We routinely buy excursions thru the cruise line and pay the higher price largely for the "idiot factor" of not having to think or worry on our trip. Grand cayman is beautiful, civilized, and the port is built to have ample opportunity to get a tour from a vendor there on site or even take a taxi to a local beach w/o a fuss. Our guide here was half an hour late, literally read road signs of local businesses to us for our tour, then rushed us through places to get back on schedule because the boat left at 3pm. Our travel agent warned us against doing a cruise ship sponsored trip and she was totally right. We loved Grand Cayman and cannot wait to go back and "do it right". In Jamaica (our first port day on New Years Day), we signed up to do Dunn River's Falls and Green Grotto Caves. First off, that was a mistake to sign up for 2 very physical activites right after New Years night. We don't drink, but we were still up late and had to be off the ship by 8am for this tour. We were dragging all day. Dunn River's Fall was ok, not sure I would do it again. The perpetual hounding to buy something got very old very quickly. The Green Grotto caves were very neat to see. In Cozumel we chose to go mudding in a dune buggy to the Jade Caverns. Fun, but again not what we expected. We spent a lot of time broken down and only got about 5 minutes at the caverns. They try for these corny photo ops holding an alligator, next to parrots and hawks and the like, but they are far from good photos. Half of them didn't even show up on the screen at the end of the tour anyway. I believe it was termed an X-rails adventure. Bring a bandana, wrap around sunglasses, towel, and a change of clothes. You will get COATED in mud (which is what we wanted). We would do this tour again if given the chance. The facility was nice, the people friendly, and they provided taxis back to the pier (about a 10 minute drive). The pier in cozumel is great for shopping. We went back to the ship, grabbed a quick shower, and went back off to go have lunch at Senor Frogs along the water at the pier. I recommend Senor Frogs! Fun party atmosphere, all their drinks come in tall obnoxious plastic glasses, and the food was really good. I bought a tanzanite ring from Tanzanite International on the pier here, they love to haggle, so never pay the first price they say!After Cozumel we cruised back to New Orleans. We had a wonderful trip even though the weather was awful (cloudy, 70 knot winds on deck, all outdoor activities this day were cancelled including the dodge ball tournament we were looking forward to watching). Next year the ship will be something else and it will go to different ports out of NOLA. We are seriously considering doing another New Years trip out of this city, and would happily return to this port to do more in the future once we are platinum or higher guests because they got on very quickly. The people onboard this cruise were super friendly and we had a great time doing a wide variety of activities! Our room attendant was good, not great, but he did his job. We enjoy inside rooms because they get totally dark, have always been very quiet for us, and we are hardly in the room if we are awake! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Part I - Precruise A. Inception We are avid Caribbean cruisers. Two years ago, we spent Christmas and New Year's in the Caribbean on the Celebrity Mercury (which, sadly, sailed for the last time under that name in February 2011); ... Read More
Part I - Precruise A. Inception We are avid Caribbean cruisers. Two years ago, we spent Christmas and New Year's in the Caribbean on the Celebrity Mercury (which, sadly, sailed for the last time under that name in February 2011); last year, we spent Christmas in the Caribbean on Celebrity's Millennium; and this year, we wanted to do it again. We looked at all cruise lines, and wanted another 14-day cruise, but the way that Christmas and New Year's are on the calendar this year, a 14-day cruise would've taken our son out of too much school, so we booked a 7-day cruise. We settled again on either Royal Caribbean or Celebrity (the only lines we have cruised on) because of their itineraries and schedules. We prefer to drive to the East Coast for our cruises, but that wasn't an option this year. B. Cruise Critic We use the community chat boards on cruisecritic.com extensively for cruise port hints and information. This review is my way of sharing. Thank you to everyone who shared in their reviews and roll calls. C. Choice of Route Our route was out of New Orleans (very excited about that again. New Orleans is a wonderful city!), to Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; and George Town, Grand Cayman. We have been to most of these ports of call before, but not in a while, so we were excited about seeing them again. We have been to Jamaica before, but not to Falmouth, so that should be interesting. D. Choice of Cruiseline and Ship We selected Royal Caribbean because we found out during our Celebrity Cruise last year that if we spent even 1 day on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, we would be Diamond members. Navigator, a Voyager Class ship, is a 138,000 ton ship with 15 decks, 10 pools & whirlpools, and 16 bars, clubs & lounges. It has a rock wall, a basketball court, an ice-skating rink, and a mini-golf course. Capacity is 3,114 passengers plus a crew of 1,185. It was launched in 2002, is registered in the Bahamas and has a CDC score of 96. E. Choice of Airline This was pretty easy. We picked the cheapest, most direct flight from Milwaukee to New Orleans. I have lots of miles on Delta, so we used them to book the 4 tickets, so they cost us only $40 out of pocket total. Flying hints: 1. Don't fly if you have a choice. I suggest driving if you can. 2. Go non-stop if you fly. Each connection increases the possibility of lost luggage and additional flight delays. 3. Consider flying in to your departure port one day early. This can be a major stress reducer! 4. Don't select your airline seats without first visiting SeatGuru.com. They have detailed airplane seating plans and hints about each seat for almost every plane flown by major airlines. F. Choice of cabin Generally, the lower your cabin and the more central its location, the less you will feel the movements of the ship. We love rocking and so did not mind being closer to the back of the ship. We always stay in inside cabins (unless something strange happens) because it is nice to be able to sleep in without worrying about the sun shining in the window. A recommendation to anyone in an inside cabin is to bring a clock. It can be very disconcerting to wake up and have absolutely no idea what time it is. We were in cabins 7345 & 7347, both interior staterooms (N). My husband and I were in one and our 17-year-old son and his 15-year-old friend (a first-time cruiser) was in the other. Royal Caribbean allows minors to stay together in a cabin if it is adjacent to their guardians' cabin. It took a few requests to ensure that we were in the right cabins (they originally wanted to book one adult and one minor in each cabin), but it ended up working out. G. Price We went to a local Travel Agent who specializes in cruises (as we always do for cruises). The cost, because it was over the holidays, was high at just over $1,000 per person. The flights were $40 for all four of us because I used my Delta miles to pay for them. Additionally, because of when we booked, we received a $100 on-board credit (OBC) for each cabin, so that was nice. I also use the Royal Caribbean Credit Card, so we got another $250 OBC from that. H. Passports We all have passports and encountered no problems. I did bring extra documentation for my son's friend. I brought a detailed (notarized) letter from his parents saying that we could take him on this specific ship, that we could take him into these specific countries, that we could make medical decisions for him, that we would supervise him, and that we would be able to sign for permission for onboard activities (like climbing the rock wall). I got all of this information from the RCCL website, but it wasn't easy to find. I. Insurance We also purchased travel insurance because we never know when our son might wind up in a cast or one of our aging parents might have a health crisis. J. Prebooking Excursions We booked all of our excursions on our own. I did research beforehand and we decided what to do from there. I do not like using the ship's excursions because they are usually expensive; I do recommend them, though, for novice cruisers. K. Packing We packed for 2 formal nights (we all brought nice outfits -- the boys wore what they wore to their Homecoming dance, my husband wore a shirt and tie (and pants) and I brought nice clothes), and the rest at various levels of casual (non-jean pants and nice shirts for all of us). Additionally, we brought enough clothing to cover us during the day for 7 days. This is less than you think because clothing rarely gets really dirty and we tend to re-wear clothes a few times before it goes in the "to be washed at home" luggage. (NOTE: My son has apparently outgrown the "re-wear your clothes" phase and decided to pack different clothes for every day. We made him carry them all in his luggage.) Among the most helpful "extra items" we packed were: extension cords and power strips for each room (usually, there are only 2 outlets in the room and we have lots to charge), alarm clock, bug lotion, sunscreen ranging from 100 to 15 spf, highlighters, beach bag, and water shoes. We also brought Christmas decorations for each room, as well as Cruise Critic door signs printed off of the roll call lists. Part II - Embarkation A. The Port We flew into New Orleans via Atlanta and arrived at 3:30pm the day before the cruise departed. You have a choice of buying transfers from Royal Caribbean, catching a taxi or hiring a car. We used taxis to and from our hotel (in the French Quarter). B. Security Processing and Boarding We arrived at the pier at 2:30pm, hoping that there would be no wait, but there was a long line for security screening. But because we were Emerald Club members, we bypassed all of that and had absolutely no line. Once through security, there were separate lines for non-Crown & Anchor Society (C&AS) members and Gold C&AS members, and all other C&AS members. All lines were kinda long and fed into a table of folks processing your boarding documents. Assuming you had already completed all the documents requested online, signing in and getting room keys (which is also your cruise ID, and ship credit card) took no more than 10 minutes. There was a quick wait for the embarkation cruise photo (which we skipped). On-board and our cruise cards were quickly data-encrypted with our images at one of three stations. Once they handed us our cards we found ourselves on the 4th floor aft lobby of the ship. It took a total of 60 minutes from the time we arrived at the pier to our arrival in our cabins. I was surprised that I was never asked for the paperwork for my son's friend. At no point in the cruise (embarkation, disembarkation or anywhere in between) did anyone ask for it. However, I have heard from others that this is not always the case, so I would recommend that anyone taking a minor non-family member get the required paperwork. C. Explore The Cabins We were in cabins 7345 & 7347, side-by-side, inside category N cabins in the back of the ship. The cabins are each 150.7 square feet and were set up for my husband and I to sleep in one big bed and my son and his friend to each have their own. The bathroom has enough room, and the shower was very nice. Our bathroom had a reasonably large shower (no bath), hair dryer, large mirror, sink, toilet, and some pretty decent storage. Something new since the last time we were on a ship: a nightlight we could use in the bathroom or main cabin. We used it in the bathroom so we wouldn't have to turn the lights on at night. Hangers were provided in the cabin, as was a welcome gift: a bottle of Evian water, some key lime cookies and a small package of candied fruit. The room safe is located in the cabinet. In the closet there are shelves for organizing your stuff. The desk featured a number of informational brochures including that day's event newsletter. The cabins also have a TV, thermostat, phone (but no clock, although you can set your phone for an automated wake-up call), and a mini-bar (small refrigerator). Being Emerald Club members, we requested and were given robes for use on board. We also received a discount booklet with coupons for beverages, Johnny Rockets, photos, internet, laundry, casino, bingo, gift shop, art, jewelry temporary tattoos, the spa, etc. Having signed up for the Meet & Mingle party, we received invites to the following day's gathering. Being members of the C&AS, we were also given invitations to a number of different events during the cruise. Our stateroom attendant, Orson from St. Vincent & the Grenadines, did a wonderful job throughout our cruise. D. Tour of Ship and Search For Food We almost found sustenance in the Windjammer Cafe on the deck 11 for a 3:45pm buffet lunch, but the Cafe closed for the 4:00pm Muster until 6:30pm. This was inconvenient as I hadn't eaten lunch and now could not find any until later in the evening. It is possible that the Promenade Cafe (on Deck 5) was open, but I wasn't aware of it at the time. The ship is well laid out with ample sets of stairwells and elevators. I tried to take the stairs as much as possible (and pretended that this was sufficient exercise to cover my food intake). E. Muster/Sailaway About one hour prior to leaving port, we participated in the mandatory lifeboat drill. The drill went smoothly and lasted 40 minutes. We are very happy at the changes that have been made in the muster drill as we no longer have to get our lifejackets and wear them to the muster, but we did have to stand outside waiting for everyone to show up. It was a good opportunity to meet people. We had a Cruise Critic get-together at the Sky bar right after muster. I asked people to wear red so that we could identify each other. I also brought nametags. About 10 people showed up -- it was a great opportunity for some of the teenagers to meet each other and start hanging out. It takes 7 hours to get through the Mississippi River from NOLA to the Gulf. The scenery was magnificent on the way out. F. Dinner -- 8:30pm Late Seating We selected the late seating. We were seated at table 366 with seating for 8 at an oval table on the lower floor (3) of the Nutcracker Restaurant. Our server, Vipin from India, and his assistant, Kiara from Peru, did a very good job throughout our cruise. Our tablemates were a dating couple (in their 20s) and their parents who spend ½ the year in Wisconsin (which is, I suspect, how we were paired up because we are from Wisconsin). They were delightful people and dinner conversation never lagged. The two-story restaurant has a seating capacity of 1,000+ passengers at each seating. Of note: jeans, t-shirts, tank tops, swimsuits, robes, and bare feet are prohibited in the Dining Restaurant at all times. Shorts are permitted at lunch only. However, we did see a number of people wearing jeans (our teenagers did on a regular basis), shorts and t-shirts for dinner even on formal nights. Part III - Food! Royal Caribbean's meals met our expectations. There was good variety. There are 2 specialty restaurants on the ship--Chops Grille Steakhouse and Portofino Italian Restaurant. There is a per-person fee for these restaurants. There is a for-fee Johnny Rockets and Ben & Jerry's. Free food is available in the main dining room, The Windjammer, Jade, Cafe Promenade and room service (for-fee late at night). We did not feel the need to eat at any of the specialty restaurants for dinner because the food in the main dining room was sufficient. A. Always Available On the Vitality menu every day were the following items: Traditional Caesar Salad, Linguini with Pomodoro Sauce, Broiled Filet of Atlantic Salmon, Grilled Chicken Breast with Rosemary, Grilled Black Angus Steak, Top Sirloin with Herb Butter, and sides of Mashed Potatoes, Rice, and Vegetable of the Day. B. Our Favorite Breakfast Items I enjoyed the fresh-squeezed orange juice (US$4), but I also loved the availability of English muffins and corned beef hash at the buffet. There was a large variety of foods, including many Asian foods, for breakfast. I liked the Mango Water, too. C. Our Favorite Lunch Items I enjoyed tremendously the Indian food at the Jade restaurant. There was also hamburgers and mashed potatoes, and chicken. D. Our Favorite Appetizer My son liked the Onion Tart, while I appreciated the wide variety of salads. We all loved the escargot and the endless supply of bread that day (to sop up all of the garlic butter!). E. Our Favorite Soups My son loved the cold soups, while I liked the warm ones. My son's friend declared the Potato with jalapeo to be a winner. F. Our Favorite Salads All of them. Honestly, the focaccia and tomato was great, but so were all the others. G. Our Favorite Entrees Any fish -- including the sea bass and the sole -- was great. The linguine was appreciated by the boys, as was the lobster tail. I loved the lamb shank and the Christmas Day turkey dinner. H. Our Favorite Desserts Cherries jubilee, crème brulee, and anything chocolate. I. Buffet I loved the warm scones available in the Windjammer. They were usually only there around 2:30-3:30pm. I also enjoyed the small sandwiches available in the Cafe Promenade on the 5th floor. The availability of Indian food was appreciated. J. Room Service We didn't use room service. Part IV - Entertainment A. Movies All the movies were shown in the Cinema. They were mostly releases from about a year ago. We did not watch any movies in the Cinema. B. Shows The Celebrity Theatre is gorgeous, with comfortable seating and good sight lines. We did not see any shows in the theater. C. Casino Large casino filled with the usual. We did not use the casino. D. Spa I did not use the spa. The prices are just too darn high. E. Outdoor Pools and Hot tubs. They were busy all day when we were at sea and the air was warm. The pools are chlorinated salt water. The hot tubs are fresh water. There are fresh water showers near each pool and hot tub. We liked that the hot tubs stayed open late -- after midnight. F. Indoor Pool and Hot Tubs The indoor pool is for adult use only. The pools are chlorinated salt water. The hot tubs are fresh water. There are fresh water showers near each pool and hot tub. We liked that the hot tubs stayed open late -- after midnight. G. In-room TV There were a number of closed-circuit ship channels and satellite stations (Global CNN, ESPN, Eye on CBS, Sky News, and a few others) available on the TV in the cabin. Pay-per-view movies were also available. You can also order room service and check your current account on the TV as well. H. Holiday Stuff The ship was decked out in its Christmas finery with a large (huge!) tree on the Promenade on deck 5 and wreaths hung there, as well. There was a large Christmas display (complete with running toy train) at the entrance to the Windjammer. There were parades every evening and Santa arrived on Christmas Day with toys for everyone from age 0-17. On Christmas Eve day, we, as Emerald members, received a plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries and cookies in our room. It was a pleasant surprise. Part V - Cruise Critic Get-Togethers A. Sailaway Party As a group, the Cruise Critic folks had arranged (on the boards) to get together at sailaway at the Sky Bar on Deck 11. About 10 showed up and we had a great time. B. Meet & Mingle Party We signed up for the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle gathering on the RCCL web site. We received an email confirmation that a party would take place. Upon our arrival in our cabin, we received an envelope containing an invitation to the party, set for 11:30 am on Sunday (our first day at sea). At the appointed time we arrived at the Dungeon. In total, about 40 folks attended. We had a great time meeting and greeting our fellow cruise critics. Light refreshments were provided. C. Slot Pull We did not arrange a slot pull. D. Cabin/Poker Crawl We did not arrange a cabin/poker crawl. Part VI - Health Concerns A. Smoking Smoking was permitted in certain areas on the ship. Although we are very sensitive to smoke, we could not detect any smoke smell in our cabin. The only place that the allowed smoking really disturbed me was in the Two Poets pub on Deck 5. Because this is an enclosed space, you could smell the smoke in many places on the Deck 5 Promenade. They had every right to smoke in the appointed areas of the ship, and unfortunately they did. B. General Cleanliness of the Ship In a word: impeccable. You could not take a stroll without witnessing some type of cleaning going on at all hours. The ship was constantly being cleaned: floors, walls, fixtures, everything! C. Viruses Although some other ships were hit with Norovirus (and it made the news) over this time, I heard of no such outbreak on our ship. E. Seasickness The seas were choppy on the last day, but I didn't notice anyone in distress. Part VII - Ship Notes A. Ship and Crew We were very impressed with the ship and crew and they were all very friendly and competent. The ship and furnishings were in very good shape. She was very clean. B. The Shops There was something on sale each day. Realize that if you forget something, you can buy it on the ship, but necessities are expensive. Deodorant, mints, dental floss, candy bars are all available, but not at a price you might want to pay. My advice: remember to bring the essentials, even if that includes M&Ms! C. Internet Service The good news: there are plenty of computer terminals with internet access on the ship. The bad news: it is expensive. D. Children Being a holiday cruise, our ship had a number of children on board. They behaved very well. Part VIII - The Ports We visited three ports. A. Falmouth, Jamaica There really is not much to do in Falmouth. Falmouth is good only in its proximity to both Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Because we did not want to sit on buses or in taxis for a long time, we did not schedule an outing. Instead, we wanted to help the local economy by shopping in the straw market just outside of the gated and fenced-in port. We wandered and bought a few things. I was not feeling well (too much heat) and so I went back to the ship early and my husband and the two teens kept shopping. At some point, my husband noticed a Jamaican police officer (there were dozens in view all around the port) taking too much interest in how much money he was carrying. Fearing a confrontation with an armed man, my husband took the boys and their shopping inside the port. We did get many Jamaican craft items before then and did enjoy the port. B. George Town, Grand Cayman We tendered off the ship at about 10:30am in Grand Cayman and found a bunch of people selling Stingray City tours. We booked one for US$40 per person, including transportation to and from the boat, 45 minutes at Stingray City, 45 minutes at a coral reef (snorkeling), snorkeling equipment, and non-alcoholic beverages. We left at 11am and were back by 2pm. It was a good trip with great experiences. C. Cozumel, Mexico We were late getting into Cozumel because of a medical situation on the ship that forced us to return to Grand Cayman immediately after leaving the port. We stayed an hour later in port, though, in an attempt to make up the time. We left the ship and caught a taxi to Paradise Beach. There, we hung out for about 4 hours. The cost to get to the beach was US$14 for a taxi of 4 people. The cost to get in was US$2 if you just wanted a chair and access to the beach, toilet, changing rooms, and pools; it was US$14 if you wanted to also play on their floating climbing things in the water, kayak, and bungee jump on the trampoline. No one bothered us on the beach and I enjoyed myself sitting under the palm trees. We had lunch which was US$91 including 15% tip (already included). Lunch was 2 smoothies, 1 daquiri and 1 margarita, ceviche platter, nacho platter, and 2 large chicken burritos. It was easy to catch a cab back (US$14) to the International Pier and then shop a bit (Los Cinco Soles has a branch at the pier now, along with many other shops) before we got back on the ship. I. Days At Sea Between ports, we had three at sea days. They were good, although the first and last days were a bit chilly (in the 70s) and windy, so sunbathing wasn't a given. J. Speakers/Entertainment We really didn't pay much attention to these on this trip. Part IX - Tipping The service personnel on Royal Caribbean receive meager wages and rely on your tips for income. While Royal Caribben says it is customary to offer gratuities to the ship's personnel who service you on the voyage, it really is expected, and it's something you should figure into your cruise budget. Our tips were paid on our cruise charge which was what our personnel preferred (we asked) rather than cash. We did tip extra to everyone for their good work. On our evaluation, we also included the names of people who had gone that extra mile for us. We have heard in past cruises that this is a great way to recognize people and it can result in a monetary bonus for people whose names are written down often. Part X -- Crown & Anchor Society On this cruise, we were select members and so we received a "Welcome Letter" which invited us to a events on the cruise. If you have taken a previous voyage and are not a member of the Crown & Anchor Society, sign up. It's free. Benefits include a express lines at embarkation, priority disembarkation, some small cabin welcome gifts, very minor casino, wine and spa discounts, a cocktail party, and upgrades (whenever possible). Some exclusions apply. Part XI - Disembarkation and Customs A. Disembarkation Disembarkation ("exiting of the ship at the end of your cruise"). Breakfast was served on the buffet and in the restaurant. Disembarkation went smoothly. Earlier in the week, everyone completed surveys which were used to prioritize passengers. Clearly those folks needing to catch plane and train connections or who were on escorted tours in New Orleans had highest priority. Crown & Anchor Society members had priority within their color group. Color-coded disembarkation luggage tags were issued to all cabins, and passengers were instructed to place the tags on their luggage and put it outside their cabins prior to 11:00pm Friday night. We were self-disembarking which meant we carried all of our luggage (not easy with 4 backpacks, 5 carry-ons and only 4 people, but we made it. We met on the 4th floor at 7:45am after breakfast and were off the ship, through customs and immigration and outside the pier by 8:30am. B. Customs US citizens are permitted 1 liter of alcohol and $800 worth of Duty Free goods per person. If under the limit, all you needed to do was to declare the total value. Anything greater had to be itemized (declared) and a duty paid, if requested. C. Transportation Options to Airport There were transfers available through the cruise line which would take you on bus to the local airport, taxis were available, as were hotel shuttles. We chose to take a taxi and it was $62 (with tip) for 4 people from the cruise terminal to the airport. D. New Orleans Airport Upon arrival at the airport, we proceeded to the Delta check-in. It took us less than 15 minutes to turn in our bags and less than 10 minutes to clear security. Delta charges $25 per checked bag (of less than 50 lbs) for the first checked bag per person. We checked 1 bag for $25. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
EMBARKATION: We flew non-stop from Washington,D.C. to New Orleans on Dec.21 and stayed with our children and grandchildren at the Marriott Springhill Suites in the warehouse district. We particularly like Springhill Suites because they ... Read More
EMBARKATION: We flew non-stop from Washington,D.C. to New Orleans on Dec.21 and stayed with our children and grandchildren at the Marriott Springhill Suites in the warehouse district. We particularly like Springhill Suites because they include a free breakfast. The Hotel is close enough to the pier so that our kids just walked with their luggage to the pier. We took a taxi, left our luggage with the porters and were on board the ship within fifteen to twenty minutes..best embarkation ever!! We loved sailing on the Mississippi River..much more interesting than going right into the ocean. SHIP INTERIOR: The Navigator of the Seas is still a beautiful vessel! We sailed a few years ago on her sister ship, Explorer of the Seas, so we knew our way around at once. Our staterooms were on deck three, oceanview..we had four cabins side by side...our daughter and her husband had connecting cabins with their three children which is a perfect arrangement, because, among other things, it allows them to have two bathrooms. The cabins are beautifully designed, with plenty of storage behind mirrors, shelves in the closets and great lighting! Our cabin attendant was fine, and did the towel animals almost every evening which is always entertaining. They were especially cute in our grandchildren's cabin. We really did not ask for anything special except for a bucket of ice each day, however, our grandkids' cabin did require a bit more effort. DINING ROOM: We were at table #291 and table #294. There were twenty of us altogether in our party, all cousins, who had decided to take this cruise. My travel agent was able to link the two tables, so we had two oval tables together on deck three in the Nutcracker Dining Room. Our server, Ivor, and his assistants, Robert and Ruben were FABULOUS!!! This was the best service we have ever had on any cruise and the dining room experience can make or break a cruise! The food is adequate..not gourmet, but tasty! The soups are superb, especially the cold fruit soups, and the desserts were always good. They had lobster tails two nights, which were fine, and they had prime rib, which was also very good. They also offer a menu for those who are trying to be calorie conscious, which is quite satisfactory. We did not use any of the specialty restaurants although one of my grandchildren went to Johnny Rockets, which was just okay! ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment on this ship was my greatest disappointment. I have the feeling that Royal Caribbean is using their entertainment budget to enhance the programs on their newer and larger ships, and are neglecting their older ships. The performers are talented, but the productions were not worthy of their talent. The costumes were cheap, there were no sets and until the third program, I did not even know they had an orchestra. The ice show was the only show that was really professionally done and it was excellent!!! The Schooner Bar also had a pianist with an amazing repertoire and he packed the place every night!! MISCELLANEOUS: The only port we had not been to was Jamaica, which was okay, but the guides never forgot to remind us that they wanted to be tipped. We went to Paradise Beach in Cozumel, which is the best beach of all and the most reasonable for what you get, and in the Caymans we went to the Royal Palms Beach Club, where our daughter had reserved a cabana and four beach chairs in advance for $100. It was expensive but lovely. The hotels on the Caymans do not give day passes at Christmas, so there were not too many options since we had already done the Stingray thing. Our disembarkation was easy. We had an eleven o'clock flight back to D.C. so we arranged for an early disembarkation..the process is not quite as organized as the embarkation, but we purchased transfers for a quick bus ride via Royal Caribbean, and went quickly through customs. This was really our best cruise ever and can't wait to sail again!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Embarkation: The port of New Orleans was pretty organized but not as organized as Oasis and Allure. We were checked in and on the ship within 45 minutes. Cabin: We had a Superior Balcony cabin on deck 7 forward. The room was in good ... Read More
Embarkation: The port of New Orleans was pretty organized but not as organized as Oasis and Allure. We were checked in and on the ship within 45 minutes. Cabin: We had a Superior Balcony cabin on deck 7 forward. The room was in good shape except for some of the droors that were pretty knicked up, but it didn't bother us much. Also it still had one of the older Tvs. We were very close to the elevators and it was very convientant to the promenade. Dining: We ate in the main dining room 5 of the 7 nights. Food was overall good, with a few bad dishes. Our servers Ali from Turkey and Iwanai were great and very personable and not forced. We were a group of 2 and we were at a 4 top but the other 2 never showed. Ports: In Grand Cayman we did the Dolpin adventure (push, pull, and swim) which was excellent. The facility was very nice and very modern. In Falmouth we did a Mountian Valley Rafting tour was overall okay. The bus ride was a good hour, which was longer than expected. The rafting part was very fun and relaxing, while the activities afterward drug on. Shows: We saw all of the shows in the main theatre along with the ice show. The production shows were All Access and Ballroom Fever. All Acess was a fast paced pop and rock show which I really enjoyed. Ballroom Fever was okay, there was minimal sets, plus we don't really ballroom dancing. The guest entertainers were good except for the juggler. The other guests were the Platters and Vox Audio were both excellent. Crew: We felt like overall the crew seemed more confortable and more friendly than on Oasis and Allure. Like I already said our wait staff was awesome. We gave our wow card to our server Ali. Overall a fantastic cruise, and we would return to the Naviagtor any day! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This is a review of the Navigator of the Seas, sailing date Nov 17, 2012. Our group was my wife, myself, our children (ages 20, 12, and 12) and my wife's (mid 70s) parents. As a general statement I believe the crew on any given ... Read More
This is a review of the Navigator of the Seas, sailing date Nov 17, 2012. Our group was my wife, myself, our children (ages 20, 12, and 12) and my wife's (mid 70s) parents. As a general statement I believe the crew on any given ship will make or break the entertainment value of the vacation. The crew on the Navigator just didn't seem to care and weren't trying to hide it. We are a pretty laid back, self-entertaining group and don't expect to be waited on hand and foot, so we can and did have a good time despite the crew. That said I could not in good conscience recommend this ship/itinerary to someone. I don't like reviews where someone just says a cruise or hotel room is bad or good. I need to know *why* you thought so. If I know the why then I can better determine if that would be good/bad for me. So I want to provide a review where I detail what was good/bad along with some of the 'why.' Boarding: We flew in the day before and spent the night at the Embassy SUites. At 12:30pm We walked the two blocks to the whale lot where there were porters loading luggage onto carts. There was a bit of confusion because some folks who were Carnival passengers were trying to give them luggage. Our bags were already tagged so it was a quick drop and go situation. The porters tagged you bags if you didn't already have them. Note that the Riverwalk access to the cruise ship walkway (it's still marked like that) is closed. The doors have a heavy chain and padlock on them. It's easy enough to walk in the street, about 1 block from the whale lot to the terminal. There was a police officer (where the port road turns onto Julia street) managing the vehicle and pedestrian traffic. At this point organization took a vacation. We didn't know it at the time but a lot of the embarkation problems were related to the fact that the Navigator had just come trans-atlantic. I was later told that because the ship was previously trans-atlantic and "new" to the port all the various authorities were being more detailed in checking things out. This applied not only to disembarking passengers, but also checking out the crew. (Imagine Coast Guard, and Immigration and CUstoms officers diligently following the rules.) I'm not saying anything is wrong with this, just making note that it cause a lot of confusion and delays. I hope this experience was not indicative of a normal boarding in NOLA, because it was hands down the worst I've experienced out of 7 cruises. I'll give an example: One RCL employee was telling embarking passengers to go back the other way because there were still 500 passengers from the previous cruise still disembarking. We ignored him along with a few others and asked a bit further down and another RCL employeed told us to continue ahead as they've been boarding passengers for the last hour. We then were able start the boarding process. Entertainment: Nightly shows: The dancing shows were fine. (Nothing spectacular or particulary impressive.) There were two different comedians which were both very good. There was a Platters group that was fantastic. Daily entertainment: Our group agreed that overall this was weak. This was compounded by the fact that the first two days were sea days. There was just very little going on those two days. This was especially disappointing to me since I enjoy having a drink on the pool deck and watching contests or listening to music. Two days at sea and the highlight of the pool deck was the ice cream machine. The bingo was run well The trivia and sudoku contests in the schooner bar were okay The movie selection in the theatre was geared towards a 20-40 crowd. I would liked to have enjoyed more movies there but the seats were were so incredibly uncomfortable I couldn't make myself go back. My father in law went once also and said it was like sitting on a board. Dining: MDR: The food was good, the service decent. Nothing spectacular. The service of course varies from table to table. For some odd reason they served the Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday night. Windjammer: Only once did I find the Windjammer crowded. It was a sea day right at noon. Any other time we have no trouble getting a table or having to wait in line for food. The food itself was fine and well kept up. The only issue I had with Windjammer was it closed at 9:30 pm every night. Which would not have been a problem except there were no late night buffets, so you were left with room service or the Cafe Promenade (See below.) Cafe Promenade: This place was just downright awful. I've seen it well done on the Freedom of the Seas, so I know it can be done. I was served the worst Starbucks latte I've ever had. I threw half of it away. The worst part though was the service. I'll give an example: There is a sign with the available kinds of pizza. (Only once was I ever there and they actually had all 3 kinds listed on the sign.) I asked the woman at the counter what kind of pizza they had since I could see there was only 1 pan under the heat lamp. She gave me a dirty look and gestured at the sign. So I play along and ask for pepperoni which was listed on the sign. She turned around and looked at the pan, turned back around and told me they only have cheese pizza. Which wouldn't be so bad except that cheese pizza wasn't one of the kinds listed on the sign. Bar Service: I've been on some ships where I felt like I was constantly getting mobbed by bar service folks. That was definitely not an issue on the Navigator. Soda Package: In my opinion, the soda package on the Navigator is a complete waste of money. They have apparently changed how this whole situation is handled because if you have the soda package you either get fountain soda or soda poured from a 2 liter bottle. The problem with the 2 liter bottles is every time I got it, it was flat. I'm convinced others figured this out as well which further aggravated the problem. What then happened is people would not get soda at the places that had the 2 liters which caused long lines at the other places. Most often those places were the bars, which then angered the bartenders and others waiting for alcoholic drinks. I honestly believe you could solve the issue by not having the bottles at all or marking them with a timestamp. Note that if you didn't have a soda package they would whip out a cold can of soda and provide glass. (I'm tempted to write letter to the Coca-Cola company about the issue.) I'm not sure I will ever buy the soda package on RCL again because of this. Wifi: This ship does not yet have wifi throughout the ship. I was able to get a very weak signal in our room on deck 9 forward but never enough to actually get a internet connection. I never had any trouble getting a connection on the pool deck, windjammer, royal promenade, or of course in the internet cafe. Teen club: My twins went to the 12-14 club and activities. My daughter didn't enjoy it and gave it up after the second day. My son kept going throughout the entire cruise. Most of the activities did seem more boy oriented. The only issue I had was once when I went to check on him in the teen club room. I stepped inside the room and the RCL woman freaked out and ran over at me. She kept telling me that I couldn't come in there. She wouldn't shut up so I started talking over her and said I came to check on my son. She kept saying I can come in there. I asked how to I get a hold of him, and she said I would have to talk to her and she could get him. I then asked how if she was also in the room how could get a hold of her without coming into the room? At that she stopped talking and just stood there with her mouth open like that had never occurred to her. By that time we had the attention of all the kids in the room. I just talked to my son quickly and then left. (I've never had a problem stepping into the room to get the attention of staff on the Carnival kids club.) Excursions: Our excursion in Grand Cayman was cancelled due to high wind. We had left early to catch the tender and shop a bit so we didn't find out it was cancelled until we were standing there waiting for the group to show. I did discover that the excursion desk had left a message on our room phone indicating the cancellation. So I give them props for trying to contact us. Disembarkation: It wasn't as bad as embarkation, but having been through many others this experience was consistent with rest of the voyage. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Embarking was HORRIBLE- parking directions from Royal Caribbean were wrong, then parking filled up. Traffic getting to parking was horrible. We walked in the doors of the terminal at 2 p.m. becuase RCI sent an email saying not to come ... Read More
Embarking was HORRIBLE- parking directions from Royal Caribbean were wrong, then parking filled up. Traffic getting to parking was horrible. We walked in the doors of the terminal at 2 p.m. becuase RCI sent an email saying not to come before 1:30 p.m. We waited 60 minutes in long line to get up to security which really wasn't that bad because the line was moving pretty frequently. But the real kicker was waiting ANOTHER 90 minutes in the security line after they split us from the main line and into one of five security lines. Our line just didn't move. Other people walked into the terminal building and right through security because they were directed to another line. We were just unlucky and the security personnel seemed oblivious to the problem. Because we were one of the final few to board the ship, it was pure chaos on the deck because people were mingling about after the security drill and no one provided us any direction as to what to do or where to go once we stepped aboard. We were so worn out by the process we skipped formal dinner, grabbed a bite in the Windjammer (yummy) and spent the evening settling in to our cabin. The rest of the cruise was wonderful, thank goodness. We were especially pleased with our cabin overlooking the Promenade. It would not be good for those who want to fall asleep early, though, as the sound from the evening's entertainment was pretty audible in our cabin. The upside was we could watch the parades and entertainment from our room. We were quite pleased with the wide variety of activities and entertainment on the ship. And the cruise director (Jimmy) and Activities Manager (Tom) and their staff were highly entertaining. Our first two days aboard were at sea and we were never at a loss of something to do. The ship was large, but not so large that you couldn't get to where you needed to be relatively quickly (if you didn't mind taking the stairs.) Main dining room was good, particularly at dinner. Though we were a little surprised to be seated with a large party of 10, seeing as it was just me and my husband. We figured they would sit us with other couples or smaller parties. Oh well, we had a great time. We did eat lunch one time in the main dining room and decided it was too slow of service and the food was not any better than the Windjammer Cafe. Windjammer Cafe had a lot of variety including plenty of healthy options and plenty of comfort food and sweets. The only downside was going during peak times meant it could be difficult to find the type of seat we preferred and the buffet lines could be a bit chaotic at times. We signed up for the Murder Mystery party in Portofino (specialty restaurant.) Well worth the $$$. Tons of fun and great menu! We were warned about Jamaica so we didn't have high expectations. Turned out to be our favorite port. We went on horseback ride and climbed Dunn River Falls through Yardie Tours which we booked through Cruises Only's Marriot Rewards web site. Grand Cayman was gorgeous - we did stingray city plus 2 snorkle stops with Captain Marvin's tours. Cozumel we took advise from Trip Advisor and hired a private taxi driver for the day who gave us a great tour of the island including a tour of a small chocolate factory and a tequila tour/tasting. Turned out to be an expensive day because we bought jewelry, chocolate, and tequila in addition to paying for 5 hours of a private taxi but it was nice to get out of the crowds. We look forward to our next cruise! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
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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