CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Navigator of the Seas by mainecruiser Western Caribbean November 15, 2003

The Navigator of the Seas is one 'BBC!' While a BBC is synonymous with one of Royal Caribbean's signature cocktails, I use it in this context: "Big Beautiful Cruiseship." Although not perfect, it's as close to perfection as one can get.

As mentioned in other reviews on Voyager-class ships, it is a floating city. And, as with cities, it can be a bit crowded at times. This was most noticeable when events were scheduled in the Royal Promenade (downtown), such as the Captain's Welcome Reception, street entertainment and parades. The Promenade is a larger version of a main atrium on smaller class ships - with an assortment of the typical shops found on board most, with the addition of a champagne bar, coffee bar, snack bar, and maybe one or two others I missed. You may purchase alcohol for cabin consumption in the Gift Shop, but there is a $9 per bottle upcharge, which basically means it'll cost about what you pay for it at home. Traffic flow seemed to be very good, even with 3000 people on board, but I was able to get lost/turned around at least several times a day; the children on board did a better job of finding their way.

STATEROOM: (category D2 - was a D8 when I booked it). This is a balcony cabin on Deck 8. With every new ship, improvements are made. There is more than ample storage for 2 people for a 7-day, or even a back-to-back cruise. Lots of nooks and crannies. Closets are roomy, with shelving on one side, a bar for hanging, and two fold down bars for added hanging space, if desired. The bathroom shower appears to have more space than most ships, due to the rounded-out sliding shower doors - no more curtain that sticks to the body! There is a shampoos dispenser in the shower. The only disappointment is that RCI has done away with one amenity - lotion - unless you are a 'Diamond Member.' The cabin decor was a combination of soft but bright (if that makes sense) colors and wood. A hair dryer is proved in the top desk drawer. All cabins have safes (you program the code) and mini refrigerators, which is stocked with beverages and snacks. These aren't free! I've heard from various sources, that you should not remove or move these items or you will be charged. Ask your room steward to do it. Stateroom rating: A.

FOOD - MAIN DINING ROOM (there are 3 - Swan Lake, Coppelia, Nut Cracker): Again, this is a matter of personal taste (no pun intended). I found the quality better than I expected. Having read others commenting on how RCI has gone downhill in this department, I was pleasantly surprised. There were 4 or 5 entrees offered every evening that included beef, poultry, fish, lamb/pork, vegetarian and pasta. If none of these were to your liking, they also had a steak, chicken breast, salmon and Fetticini Alfredo every night. Live, soft dinner music, either piano or strings, played throughout. Our dining room was Swan Lake, which is the uppermost tier and the brightest. The Nut Cracker was on the first level and was much larger and also had the Captain's Table. We had all of our dinners in the dining room, so I can not comment on the Portofino Restaurant or Chops Grille. Rate it as excellent (A).

FOOD - WINDJAMMER AND JADE CAFES: Buffet style, and visited several times for breakfast (opens earlier than the dining room) and lunch. And again, I think for buffet food, it was very good. They had some basics every day but also had many new additions mixed in. One of the better buffets I've had on board a ship in awhile. Rate it as Very Good to Almost Excellent (A-).

FOOD - JOHNNY ROCKETS: This is a "must do," "do not miss." It takes all of us older folks back to the 50's and 60's, and shows the younger folks what they missed. Food is free, drinks, except for water, are extra, and you can get the largest glass of beer on the ship - 20 oz - for $3.50. There are booths with nickel jukeboxes and a soda fountain type counter with swivel bar stools (all plastic covered of course), with more juke boxes; lots of chrome, old style napkin dispensers, salt and pepper shakers - the works. It's a step back in time. Oh, yes, the food! The best burgers and (Nathans) hot dogs served on the ocean! You begin with (what else), 'Starters.' which is a platter of french fries and onion rings, with two dipping bowls - ketchup and ranch dressing. Yes, ranch dressing - I never realized how good fries are with it. There are 5 or 6 variations of hamburgers. Also on the one page menu (plastic coated, of course), are a selection of club sandwiches and chili. Oh, and when there's a real beat tune on the jukebox ("YMCA", "Stayin' Alive," etc.), the waiters and waitresses stop what they're doing and dance to the music. WARNING: The burgers and dogs are very messy - wear something already stained. I had lunch/late lunch here 5 days. Rate it as Acceptional (A+).

POOL AREA AND SUN DECK: Wow! More cruise lines should follow RCI's lead. You are issued two pool towels in your stateroom, for which you are responsible. Once used, you can exchange them for clean ones poolside, or your cabin steward will replace them that evening. This cut down considerably on 'Lounge Hogs.' The 2 pools seemed small for this size ship, as well as the Solarium pool, but they were never overly crowded and there was always an ample amount of lounges available. Now, if they could only enforce the policy of children not swimming in the hot tubs, I'd probably rate this experience an A. The Solarium pool is for adults only.

ENTERTAINMENT: I walked into the first main show, just as it was beginning, and there was not a seat to be had, so I missed it. I went back to drown my sorrow (money) in the casino, which I might add, didn't take too much away over the entire week. Actually, come to think about it, it treated me kindly. The other productions I saw, which was most of them, were very, very good. The Ice Show is another 'Must See.' It's free, but you have to get tickets the day before, because it only seats so many. I didn't catch any of the lounge acts, but what I did see, I'd say was excellent (A).

SERVICE: Both the room steward and dining staff were very efficient and pleasant. It was one of the few times we saw our assistant maitre d' every day. The shops' personnel was a little standoffish, but that wasn't a big deal. Rate the service an A-.

EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION: Again, RCI has this down to a science. Arrived at the cruise terminal at 11:00am. went to the special check-in for Platinum and Diamond members, on the ship and in my cabin by 11:30am. Was one of the first to be called for debarkation at a little after 7:00am, spent a half hour at the baggage carousal for my luggage, hopped in a cab, and was sitting at my airway gate at Miami International by 8:30am. Initially, I was worried - I had an 11:30am flight. Rate this as superb (A+).

ITINERARY: LABADEE, HAITI: One of RCI's private oasises. Probably as close to a total paradise beach experience as one can get. Royal Caribbean keeps updating and improving here, with 4 beach areas, more outbuildings, water toys and activities. It just keeps getting better and better with each visit. OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA: Used this as a 'Sea Day' the past several times, having ported in Jamaica numerous times, both here and Montego Bay, with unpleasant experiences. This time was different - found it to be VERY clean, and the local people friendly and non-aggressive; totally different from the past. James Bond Beach was a recommended beach, but that was a $120 round trip cab ride. We hung out in town and at the Village Island complex - $3.00 admission to their beach. A surprisingly very pleasant experience. GRAND CAYMAN: Another beach day. The cruise line recommended the Beach Club Colony ($3.00pp cab fare) but the taxi driver talked us into going a little further ($4.00pp) to the beach across the street from the Holiday Inn. I'm glad we did. We saw the beach at the Beach Club, and the one near the Holiday Inn was far superior, wider and less crowded. Well worth the extra buck each way. COZUMEL: Was going to be another beach day at Playa Azul, but ended up a light shopping day. Got hung up with an Independence (Revolution) Day Parade, but that was kind of fun. Then headed to our favorite store - Los Cinco Soles. Good quality cotton wear and the least expensive vanilla anywhere, and in lightweight plastic bottles - good gift idea and stocking stuffers. Then down to bye-bye - more cotton wear. Between Los Cinco Soles and bye-bye, there is a great leather goods shop (quality - brand names) where prices are VERY negotiable.

Since I've been to these ports before, I've done the adventuring thing and tours. This cruise was meant to be, and was, total relaxation, from start to finish! I know I skipped a lot of information in this report, and it wasn't intentional. There were just so many things to see and do on the ship that time, and in some cases, space here, does not allow. Overall experience - Excellent (A).

If I can be of any help with Information about the Navigator of the Sea, or the ports of call, please feel free to contact me. "The next best thing to cruising is talking about it."

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