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Louis Schubert

Age: 59


Number of Cruises: 18

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Navigator of the Seas

Sailing Date: September 18th, 2004

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

My wife and I are cruise regulars (this was her 16th and my 18th). In 1986, we cruised RCI on our honeymoon and have done nice ships and crummy ships but the Navigator of the Seas is in a class by itself at the top of the heap. I thought that NCLs "Norway" was big but NV has to be experienced to be believed.

Our inside cabin was at the aft of the ship. Any further back and we would have needed water skis. Unless you really like to walk, try to book a cabin close to one of the two sets of elevators. It was like walking a good city block from our cabin to the elevators.

Maybe that was a good thing because we had the opportunity to walk off some of that food that we were constantly eating.

We left Miami on Sept 18 and headed to Labadee, Haiti which RCI has set up as a 'Private Island'. They tender you ashore to a huge white sand beach and feed you barbecue cooked by the ship's staff on the island and was quite good. Bar service was also from the ship and included the ship's ice which will not make you sick.

There are vendors on Labadee who can be quite insistent. They are nice folks but you just have to be firm. Also, as the time for the tenders to take you back to the NV nears, the prices drop. You should plan to browse early and shop late.

Like another review had stated, we also recommend the soft drink card. You pay a one-time fee of about $52, they put a sticker on the back of your 'Cruise Pass' card and issue you a Coca-Cola plastic cup, which is insulated and will keep your soft drink cold even in the heat. Show up at any of the many bars, flash your card and they will fill up your cup or pour you a glass if you have left the cup in your cabin. My wife is a Coke person and I prefer Bud. Beer on board is $3.45 a pop and at the Pool Bar you can purchase 6 for the price of 5 and they ice it down for you in a plastic bucket.

The next stop was Ocho Rios in Jamaica. Dunn's River Falls is a great thing to do if you are fit. It involves climbing up a flowing river about 900 feet. The one tour to avoid in Ocho Rios is the Bob Marley museum tour. You will spend about 3 hours in an icy cold museum while the tour guide outlines every facet of Bob Marley's life in incredible detail. More information than I ever wished to have presented.

The Cayman Islands had been hit hard by Ivan and we bypassed it to Cozumel, Mexico. Once, St.Thomas was considered the Kmart of the Caribbean. After the time we spent in Cozumel, I suspect that it will take over that moniker from St.Thomas.

On our way back to the Port of Miami, Hurricane Jeanne was bearing down on the East cost of Florida. They came on the PA and announced that the Port of Miami had been closed by the Coast Guard and that we would not be returning on Saturday as planned. A huge round of applause erupted and the Captain turned the ship around back into the Gulf. On several occasions, he got the ship within cell-phone range and they also set up a call center so that we could call ashore and alter our airline reservations. They also waived the per-minute Internet charges. Very accommodating!

Two plus two may be four but seven plus Jeanne equals nine. We didn't get back to Miami until Monday... Saturday and Sunday were a free ride. They also explained that there had been so many cancellations that we could stay on board for the next five days at a price only an idiot would turn down. Our biggest problem was dirty laundry which we laundered in the bathroom sink. The price to launder a pair of men's briefs was $1.50 a pop... I didn't even pay that much for them in the first place!

So... We were back to Labadee and Jamaica. We then knew how to handle ourselves at Labadee and skipped the Falls in Ocho Rios and headed directly to Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.

Everything on the ship's dinner menu that we didn't try on the first leg of the journey was ordered on the second. And... This brings me to the admonition. The dining room(s) are three stories. Service is impeccable as was the food. The next paragraph is not the ship's fault...

Are you planning on taking your toddler on the cruise? If so, I beg of you, do not plan to take your toddler son/daughter to the Main Dining room unless your child's vocabulary extends beyond "NOW" and "NO". There were two couples who dined (as it were) at a table about twenty feet away. Each had an apparently two-year-old child. The little girl behaved pretty well but the other couple's boy only knew NO and NOW. When he did not get whatever it was that he wanted he ranted NOW and banged his fists on the table. He obviously had mommy and daddy trained pretty well because NOW produced whatever it was that he wanted. If he didn't want what he was being fed by mommy or daddy he would shout NO and then began to scream. The boy's father grabbed that kid up from his booster chair and carried him out of the dining room at least five times during the course of a meal. The little girl averaged about two times per evening.

That table failed to show up for dinner three times during our nine day 'first cruise'. We were sooooo thankful. You, as parents, should know if your toddler is ready for a classy dining room. If your kid is obviously not ready... Make other arrangements. Don't ruin things for the other folks.

The Windjammer on Deck 11 Aft has most of the dinner items served at the main dining room. I'm a sucker for the cold soups and fancy entrees. You have to serve yourself from a buffet line at the Windjammer but most (if not all) of the offerings in the main dining room can be found (with some other stuff to boot). One of the big plusses is that you can do the Windjammer in shorts and a T-Shirt. I also liked it because I could try a little of this and a little of that and not feel guilty about ordering several entrees that I knew I couldn't finish (I weigh 135 lbs).

We spent 14 days on NV. If you have anything that I can help you with, just eMail and I'll do my best.

Have a nice vacation.... We did!

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