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Ton van der Gaag

Age: 52

Occupation:consultant

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Navigator of the Seas

Sailing Date: November 12th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

We just finished our first cruise on the Navigator of the seas and it was fantastic. I read a few reviews before and was prepared for long queues, average food and a lack of chairs but experienced none of that. The on-ship experience was truly 10/10. The off-ship experience, in sharp contrast, probably not even 1/10. Let's start with the on-ship experience.

Ship.
The Navigator of the Seas is a beautiful ship. Twice we spent a couple of hours just wandering through all the decks. I was amazed how everything was decorated and the attention that was given to details. During most of our trip there was a heavy wind (6-8) but you hardly notice it. I can get seasick on a 1 hour crossing from UK to France but had never any problem on this trip.

Accommodation.
We loved our cabin. The bed was comfortable. More than enough cupboard space. Pleasant lights. The temperature was a bit hard to control. We often left the door to the balcony open at night to let some warmth in. The room attendant (Steve from Costa Rica) was superb. Twice daily everything was cleaned. I still wonder how he always managed to do that in the short time we were out and never needed to disturb us when we were in our room. We loved the different animals they made of the towels.

Entertainment.
Superb. Especially the Ice show. This was without doubt the best show. Do not forget to get tickets early because this is in a small theatre and there are only a few shows. But the other shows are very good as well. Something for everyone’s taste. Musical, Rock and Roll, stand up comedy etc. I also liked the English humour of the Cruise Director. In the different bars there was always good life music.

Activity.
Too much to do it all. We did some ice skating which was very good. Found it hard though after so many years. The gym was very good, as well as the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi. We wanted to do so much more but just did not have the time or energy. We did not use the pool. It is not something where you can swim in, it is more to cool off during sun bathing. In a lot of reviews many people are irritated about the reserving of chairs with towels. Royal Caribbean put some signs up that it is not allowed, but that is about all. Charging $20 if you loose a towel helps as well I think. Especially around the “pool” all seats were occupied or “reserved”. But we had no problem finding empty chairs either in the sun or in the shadow a bit away from the pool and the band.

Food.
Some reviews complain about the food but I think those are from people married to a chef of a restaurant with 3 Michelin Stars. I have not yet found a Hotel in the UK that can match it. Both in the main restaurant and buffet it was absolutely great. For lunch we went to the buffet. The choice you have there is amazing. Dinner was so good that we did not go for any of the “special” restaurants. And again the attention to detail was surprising. One of the guests on our table had a special diet and that was always taken care of in detail as well. The 24 hour sandwich bar was so much better than I expected. Real fresh bread rolls or croissants with ham and cheese. Top quality. The assortment of delicious cakes was a bit too good. We often found it too tempting not to have any with our coffee, which was of good quality as well.

Service.
Really great. I get annoyed quickly by the often artificial and heavily exaggerated friendliness of service in the US. Off course there was a bit of that as well but not to a level that was irritating. In most cases I think it was even genuine. The waiters in the restaurant were very good, gave good advice and again paid attention to detail. But even the people who are not nominated to receive a tip at the end of the trip or receive a service charge went all the way for you. I once asked someone who was cleaning a closed coffee buffet where I could get some milk and he insisted that I would go to my seat and he would get it for me at another coffee buffet. And this is only one example. It was either genuine or they hired very good actors. Talking about it with other guests we think Royal Caribbean treats their staff very well, so they really enjoy their job which makes a big difference.

Overall on-ship experience.
A really good holiday and we will definitely cruise again. We had a few days with some rain but there is so much to do that you hardly notice it. We never had to qeue up for anything and were impressed by the friendly staff and delicious food.

Off-ship experience.
Absolute disaster. The strange thing is that Royal Caribbean puts a lot of effort in it to make the chaos as big as possible. At least you cannot create so much chaos if you do not do anything at all. I mean the check-in process. Endless queues, no signs where to go to, no information what to expect and above all very rude staff. In Europe you would probably have to face a protest group if you would treat immigrants like that.

Even the staff on the transfer bus to the Hotel was terrible. Loudly complaining that he was not happy with the amount of tip he had received!

Luckily we had a good day, partly cloudy and normal temperature, but I cannot imagine how it is like with for example 3 small children on a sunny or rainy day. Question is why Royal Caribbean allows this to happen. Either it is done on purpose because after that experience everything looks great or someone is subsidized by a competing cruise company.

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