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Rita Yates

Age: 43

Occupation:Executive Director

Number of Cruises: 10

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Navigator of the Seas

Sailing Date: October 9th, 2004

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

I want to start by saying that out of the 10 cruises I have been on the Navigator of the Seas is without a doubt the largest. From the moment you walk in you know you are definitely in a floating fantasy!

This cruise was special since my family was on board celebrating my parents 50th wedding anniversary. Check in at the Port of Miami was confusing because after you received your boarding documents you had no idea where to go. Lines were forming everywhere and there was no apparent organization. After we were actually in the correct line, the process moved smoothly.

We had an immediate problem with our dining reservations. Royal Caribbean, despite my numerous requests, had put my parents at a different table in a different dining room. This was unacceptable since we were celebrating their 50th anniversary. I spent the first 1/2 hour on board waiting in line in the dining room to correct this problem. I must say that the problem was resolved and my entire family was able to sit together.

I cannot say enough about the waiters in our dining room. They treated us like family. The service was outstanding and their personalities were spectacular! The food was very good and their selection on the children's menu was also terrific. Also, this was the first ship I have been on where I have actually seen the head waiter every night - not just on the night where they collect tip envelopes. The head waiter was terrific. He made it a point to visit with each and every dinner guest!

The bars were great. We visited them all! We only had a bad experience twice with the bartenders being unfriendly. Hats off to bartenders Owens, Manny and AJ for putting up with my family. The provided entertainment too!

The entertainment on the ship was terrific. From the ice skating shows to the comedy shows - all first class.
We loved listening to the one man band at the Two Poets Lounge!

Ports of Call - I have been to Nassau 10 times so we basically revisited the straw market. If you haven't been, it's nice, however intimidating! Water is beautiful and be prepared to be asked 200 times if you want your hair braided!!

St. Thomas was beautiful. It was very hot and the tours were not in an air conditioned vehicle which made it hard for my elderly parents. The tour guide was very informative but the tour was so crowded my family was not able to sit together. In fact they put my husband in the front of the truck with the driver!! The island is absolutely beautiful and we all wished we had more time. The time in port was way too short!! The shopping was great - although time was an issue. Liquor was so cheap! We all stocked up.

San Juan, Puerto Rico - This was nice and I would definitely recommend the Bacardi Rum Tour. This was great! Even the kids enjoyed this one. Puerto Rico is very congested. Between our tour and the traffic - there was no time for shopping which was real disappointing.

Labadee, Haiti - this island was beautiful! The only problem I had was the straw market area. The natives were very aggressive and competitive. It made it really hard to actually shop around. The accommodations on the island were beautiful and the tenders taking you to and from the island were nice too.

Back on board.....
Johnny Rockets - Although nice - be prepared to pay $3.95 per person to get in. Go early - gets real crowded and remember that the $3.95 is for only food and not their famous milk shakes that will run you another $4.00!

Another recommendation is get a soda/coke card. This will allow you or your children to purchase unlimited cokes while on board. The cost is $25 for kids and around $45 for adults but well worth it. Cokes can cost as much as $3.50 each!

The Adventure Ocean Program - for those of you who have children - cruising is the answer to all your prayers!!! My children have been on 5 cruises and each one gets better and better. Our 16 year old son was able to make many new friends and the teen accommodations are out of this world. From the no adults allowed "living room" area to their own nightclub "Fuel" they can hang out and have a great time. There is a spectacular game room - however bring plenty of money cause the games are overpriced!

Our 8 year old daughter had the time of her life. From ice skating lessons, rock wall climbing, in line skating, and putt putt golf, I cannot say enough about the counselors on board the Navigator. They are the most hardworking individuals I have ever encountered. They keep all these age groups wanting more. From the circus circus to the pirate night to the infamous talent show, our daughter wanted to be with them every waking moment. They even provide late night activities from 10 pm to 1 a.m at $5 per hour which gives the adults time to enjoy their vacation too. They even had their own children's area in Haiti!

Pictures- be prepared! You will have to take out a bank loan if you plan on buying any photographs. These photos are outragously priced! A regular 8x10 is $20 which doesn't sound too bad until you find 4 that you like! There is no break. In fact my son won a coupon for any size photo during one of his bingo games. I went to purchase photos and told the cashier specifically I wanted to use it for an 8x10 photo and I did not check the receipt and after unpacking and looking at the "damage" I noticed he took off the smaller 4x5 photo at $4.95 so watch your receipts especially if you have bargain coupons!

The only draw back I have with cruising is that too many activities start way too late. The boat doesn't get "rocking" until after 10:30 pm each night so if you are like me you have to get a nap in!

Another tip is that if you are going for 7 days or longer - splurge and get the junior suite. It was the best thing we ever did. We have stayed in every type of room and this was our first suite and now it will be hard to go back. The balcony is terrific and you can watch as you dock at the different ports. Order room service and have coffee every morning watching the sun rise! They are very spacious with walk in closets and with 4 people you never felt cramped.

The room attendants this time on board were not that friendly. I don't know if it was a language issue or not, but I never saw our attendant until the 3rd night. As usual, the selection of different towel animals amuse us adults and children!!

Getting off the ship - since we had an early flight and my elderly parents drove, we arranged with Royal Caribbean to have my parents get off the ship with us so we could gather their luggage and get them safely to their car. Royal Caribbean was very helpful in this. It took a lot off my mind and I thank them for that! Claiming luggage was a breeze since the new system of having different areas with different color luggage tags. Gone are the days of the large piles of luggage with the different color tags. Customs was also very streamlined and we were off the boat by 7:30 a.m.

All and all this was a fantastic cruise. I think, however that this ship is a little too big for me! It was also hard for my parents to get around since so many things are happening in so many different areas. I have been on different cruise lines and honestly don't have a favorite. I would definitely recommend this cruise to others but just keep in mind that you are really not in any port of call for any length of time and you should consider this when booking.

If anyone has any specific questions I would be more that glad to answer them. Feel free to contact me and happy sailing!!

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