Navigator of the Seas Entertainment & Activities
The ship's main theater, Metropolis, delivers nightly shows, from variety production numbers featuring the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers to the standard onboard game shows like "Love and Marriage," as well as music and comedy entertainers. The 1,350-seat, Art Deco-style venue also is a hot spot for daily bingo games and the welcome-aboard show. This show lounge is elegant with touches such as stylized, elongated female figures on the curtain, wall sconces and skyscrapers in a sunburst pattern on the ceiling.
Navigator of the Seas Activities
One of the more unique features at sea -- and found on all the Voyager Class ships -- is the ice rink in Studio B; typically there's at least one performance if not more on every cruise. Passengers are encouraged to get tickets, which are free, early for the "Ice Dancing" spectacular show because seating is limited. The show is an exceptional entertainment value, featuring all manners of spins, jumps and lifts with a wide array of musical accompaniment.
Navigator offers a variety of options for evening drinks and entertainment. Sing along with piano music in the signature, nautical-themed Schooner Bar. Boleros, a Latin jazz bar (though we caught multiple shows of a great country band there on our sailing) serves up mojitos and other popular Latin drinks. The Star Lounge offers karaoke and themed night parties, and smokers will enjoy the cigar lounge housed within this venue.
On the Promenade, you can sample a pint or two within sight of portraits of such luminaries as Dickens and Thackeray, while sitting back and watching a game at Two Poets Pub. Wine lovers will enjoy time at Vintages (a wine bar in association with Robert Mondavi and Beringer Blass Wine Estates with wine-appreciation programs for novices and aficionados). The Royal Promenade also comes alive with street entertainment on some nights. We enjoyed the spectacular Circus Parade as well as the Dancin' in the Streets party. The ship hosts a 1970's theme night during the cruise.
New to the ship after the refurb is the line's signature R Bar, which replaces the Champagne Bar on Deck 5 just outside the Promenade. This is an especially popular gathering spot for a pre- or post-dinner drink. It offers exotic cocktails mixed using a variety of techniques. You don't even have to stick to the printed menu: Just tell the mixologists the types of ingredients you like, and they'll whip you up something tasty.
The Cosmopolitan Club in the Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 14 is the late-night gathering spot, with a DJ taking requests and pumping out your favorite dance music.
The Vegas-style Casino Royale (with a New Orleans theme here) on Deck 4 features nearly 300 slots, eight blackjack tables, Caribbean Stud Poker, Texas Hold 'Em and Three-Card Stud tables, three roulette wheels and a craps table.
Craving a movie under the stars? Head poolside for one of the multiple movie nights offered on Navigator of the Seas' oversized LCD screen. Pool activities, such as games, bellyflop contests and the line's ubiquitous World's Sexiest Man contest, take place most days on the Lido Deck.
For other daytime entertainment, trivia buffs get ample chances to pit their wits against fellow cruisers with several daily sessions at venues throughout the ship. Test your knowledge with contests such as "Michael Jackson Songs," "What's That Logo?" or the ever-popular "Tri-Bond Trivia."
Navigator of the Seas Public Rooms
An $8.5 million art collection graces the ship -- with a mind boggling 2,213 art pieces in the public spaces. Voyager's decor includes framed posters and art representing famous movies that line the hallways to passenger cabins. It's cool to stroll around and see all that's there. They also help you remember where to go at the end of your day: "I just have to remember, my room is across from Han Solo on the Star Wars poster."
The Royal Promenade, in essence a sea-bound mall, is the heart of the ship. It's four decks tall, longer than a football field and anchored at each end by atriums. The area offers shops, bars and casual eateries. We found that the wide-open Promenade helps keep foot traffic flow on the ship very smooth, from one end to the other. This was a nice change from some frustratingly tight confines we've encountered on other vessels that worsen when main theater and other popular events let out. Monumental sculptures adorn each atrium, including our favorite work of art onboard, Aquaria, by American sculptor Larry Kirkland. This awesome sculpture, which spans the 11 levels of the Centrum atrium, has 6,000 shimmering, hand-gilded spheres inspired by the bubbles produced by scuba divers.
Passengers will find the shore excursion and guest services desks in the same area on Deck 5 before the entrance to the Promenade, which is home to duty-free shopping outlets for jewelry, apparel and liquor as well as sundry convenience items. You can book a future cruise while onboard at the sales desk on Deck 6.
A cyber lounge on Deck 8 offers multiple computer stations with Internet access. You also can use your smartphones or tablet devices to access the ship's Wi-Fi plans. Prices are $10 for a 30-minute plan (minutes cannot be saved); $29.95 for an hour (time is used only when you are logged on); $59.90 for a full day of continuous service; and $140.95 for three days. Or, buy a plan good for the entire cruise ($190 for one device or $229 for two devices). The ship offers bow-to-stern Wi-Fi service, which was spotty at times but worked pretty well overall during our sailing. The library on Deck 7 also features computer terminals.
Other public spaces include an intimate wedding chapel for 60 guests with ocean views on Deck 15. There's also a conference center on Deck 2. Passengers can use the "wayfinder" interactive screens near the elevator banks to get directions around the ship or access a digital "Cruise Compass" that outlines the day's activities onboard. There is no self-service launderette, so pack accordingly.
Navigator of the Seas Spa & Fitness
One of our favorite areas on board was the Solarium, a pleasant, adults-only open-sky enclave themed to Tuscany. It features a pool, fountain, two hot tubs, bar and lots of chaise lounges facing the sea, along with greenery, bronze horses and murals inspired by the Tuscan countryside of Italy. The ship's main pool area features two small adjacent pools, four whirlpools and stadium seating on vinyl-strap loungers. One of the pools and a whirlpool offer hydraulic lifts to aid accessibility. The pool areas were busy, but we had no trouble finding seats.
The fitness center on Deck 11 offers sea views through floor-to-ceiling windows. The gym sports 18 Lifefitness treadmills, 12 Lifefitness elliptical cross trainers, five recumbent bicycles, four stationary bicycles, two rowing machines, Lifefitness weight machines and two stair steppers, and additional free weights with up to 65 pound dumbbells. The free weight area is too small for an effective workout if more than three people are in the area at the same time, a point of some frustration. A separate mirrored aerobics area is set up for group classes with spin bikes and free weights; some premium classes, such as spinning and yoga, charge a $12 fee. A stereo system and television monitors provide entertainment while you work out. The facility features men's and women's locker rooms with a steam room and a sauna. The atrium area of the fitness facility has a soothing round thalassotherapy pool, free for anyone to use.
The Vitality Spa on Deck 12 above the fitness center is a serene oasis with a beauty salon, 14 massage rooms, one dry floatation room and a relaxation area. The spa and beauty salon, operated by Steiner Leisure, offers an excellent range of treatments (massages, facials, body tune-ups and waxing, as well as hair, nail and teeth treatments). Couples can enjoy a private steam and shower room, which you can book to spend an hour slathering each other in exfoliating lotion, mud masks and moisturizers. Service in the spa is outstanding -- and the quality of the treatments is high.
A basic 50-minute massage ranges from $119 to $159. A manicure is $45; a pedicure is $65. The spa offers discounts on port-of-call days. In addition, treatment employees will engage, too aggressively, in the much-loathed "Steiner Product Pitch" at the end of your appointment. If you're not interested in purchasing products, start off your appointment by saying so. Generally, that will eliminate the need to say "no" at the end.
Other fitness and recreational facilities include a jogging track on Deck 12 (five times around equals one mile). Also, the Voyager-class ships feature some of our favorite physical activities. The outdoor sports deck comes complete with a miniature golf course and golf simulator; a full-length sports court for basketball, soccer, paddle ball and volleyball; and, of course, the awesome rock-climbing wall -- 200 feet above the sea. Are you game? If not, it's fun just to watch. The ship also offers a handful of ice-skating opportunities on sea days at Studio B. The newest addition, a FlowRider surfing simulator, is always in great demand. Try some tricks on a boogie board or get stoked riding a surfboard. Spectators can watch the fun and the falls from the wraparound stadium-seating area.
Navigator of the Seas For Kids
Navigator of the Seas offers a wide range of youth programs in a large space on Deck 12. Royal Caribbean has designed Adventure Ocean (open until 10 p.m.) for ages 3 to 17. Children must be at least 3 and fully toilet trained (no diapers or pull-ups) to participate in daytime and evening Adventure Ocean programs. As an alternative, the ship also offers Royal Babies and Tots, a drop-off nursery service for infants 6 to 36 months old. Parents pay $6 an hour during daytime hours (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and $8 an hour at night (until midnight) to have a trained professional watch their children. The ship also will loan toys for little ones. Free-time play is offered daily, allowing parents to interact with their tots using specially designed developmental toys and programs.
Adventure Ocean includes a section for 3- to 5-year olds (Aquanauts program) with computer stations, an arts and crafts station and an ocean liner-themed play area. The room for 6- to 8-year-olds (Explorers) features computer stations and video game terminals, and activities include talent shows, themed evenings, Adventure Science activities (including building an exploding volcano), and Adventure Art by Crayola projects (including making masks inspired by world cultures). The Voyagers room for 9- to 11-year-olds offers computer stations, flat-screen televisions and activities such as Survivor Night, conducted by the ship's youth counselors.
Teens have their own hang-out areas (open until 2 a.m.), and their program has been divided (sensibly) into two age groups: 12-14 and 15-17. Navigator offers a wide range of activities, such as teen parties with music and buffets, movie night in your PJs, video games, teens-only ice skating, dance challenges, capture the flag tourneys and more. Optix is the teen night club, complete with dance floor, flat-screen televisions and bar for sodas and other nonalcoholic drinks. An unlimited soda package for passengers younger than 18 is $28 for a seven-night cruise.
Beyond this, teens also have The Living Room, a place to hang out during the day with games, books, TV, futuristic furniture and an Internet cafe with seven stations. It's so cool the counselors often have to politely chase away adults. A large video arcade is nearby and so is Johnny Rockets to satisfy the teen appetite for fast food.
Generally, activities at Adventure Ocean cease during lunch and dinner times, but there is the occasional organized meal outing (to Johnny Rocket's, for instance). The complimentary My Family Time Dining program lets kids finish dinner in the main dining room in 45 minutes, then get escorted by Adventure Ocean counselors back to the kids' club to play (letting Mom and Dad enjoy a more leisurely meal). This service is available for first seating for kids ages 3 to 11.
Late-night group babysitting in the kids' areas (for ages 3 to 11) is available from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. for $7 per hour, per child. In-room babysitting for kids 12 months and older costs $19 per hour (a two-hour minimum) for up to four children and requires a 24-hour advance reservation.