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Helen Fleitas

Age: n/a

Occupation:n/a

Number of Cruises: 9

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Navigator of the Seas

Sailing Date: December 21st, 2002

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

BACKGROUND - 40’s with one 7-year-old son. My mom also traveled with us. This was our 9th cruise (all on RCCL) and our son’s 5th cruise. This was our first time on a Voyager class ship.

We choose this ship as our favorite waitress, Mellany transferred from the Grandeur. This was our first time cruising during a holiday period.

EMBARKATION - We got to the pier around 12:45 pm. What a zoo. Very unorganized, lines everywhere. We waited 1.5 hours in the C&A Diamond and Platinum line. They only had one person working that line, and then finally added a second person. The regular line was really long also but seemed to be moving. The few upgrades that we wanted were gone by the time we got there. They were also checking people in that were in the pier coordinator upgrade line. That one moved the quickest. I think the problem may be due to two Voyager class ships in port on the same day. Rccl was trying to check in about 6800 people for the two ships. Make sure you are in the right line for the right ship.

THE SHIP – Very big and beautiful. It still has that brand new smell. The ship is well laid out and not hard to get around once you figure out what set of elevators (or stairs) you need. The ship was full but it never seemed real crowded due to the size.

OUR ROOM – We had a D9 balcony, #9358 on the ninth floor. A bit tight with 4 of us trying to move around at the same time but we managed. The room was very well laid out with plenty of storage for the 4 of us. In the closet there are shelves that hold the extra pillows and blankets. We used those to store clothes on. There was plenty of closet space and hangers. We removed some of their wooden hangers and used our wire ones as they took up less space. The bathroom was fine. The shower is enclosed with a plastic door that slides open and closed, no more shower curtain sticking to your backside. We used the shoe rack thing to hold toiletries. We just tied it onto the towel bar. There was a mini bar. I removed all the items and told the room steward we had our own soda and water. Hubby, son and myself slept in the bed, we were comfortable. My mom had the sleeper sofa. (It was actually a futon) It was very uncomfortable. The second night she asked the room steward to fix it. She made it up with some extra blankets underneath and that helped. The balcony was nice with 2 chairs and a table. Our room was in the aft end of the ship. A very good location as it is on the end where the pool, dining room and kids center is.
Our room steward was just ok; we have had much better ones. The room was maid up and clean. She always left the dirty glasses in the room; I had to put them in the hall. One glass was left on the balcony the entire week. I also asked for some wine glasses and never got them. They seem to have more rooms than usual. I always saw many still cleaning rooms at 2 and 3 in the afternoon.
Our robes were in the room when we arrived and we got our crown and anchor coupon books the first evening.

KIDS – It was Christmas and there were 998 kids on board. RCCL is strictly enforcing their zero tolerance policy for misbehaving kids and parents. I did not here of any one getting kicked off our sailing but they were broadcasting the policy on the speaker 3 times a day and it was printed in the compass. For the most part, I did not see any problems. One night there was a group tying up an elevator. On the last night, there was on group in the concierge club after midnight. When we came in, one of them said, hey the booze cabinet is unlocked. A little phone call took care of the situation.
Yes, kids were in the hot tubs. The sign says, under 16 should be supervised. I guess parents were keeping an eye on them from the upper deck. I did not use the Solarium as I have a young one, so I cannot comment on kids in that area. The Solarium is not covered like it is on the Vision class ships.

KIDS PROGRAMS – As always, RCCL has excellent programs for the children. My son was in the 6 to 8 year old program. The hours are 9 to noon, 2 to 5 and 7 to 10 pm. Late night babysitting is available until 1 am for $5.00 per hour per child. The kids also get a compass each day that listed all of their activities for the day. The area for the 6 to 8 year olds is huge. They had science activities, a pj party, parades, a circus show and a talent show.

ARCADE – The arcade is a very good size with approximately 30 different games. The average price was about $1.00 per game. You can transfer arcade credit to your child’s sea pass from yours in the arcade. This place was always busy.

FOOD - So may more choices on the bigger ships.

Windjammer – The food was very good. I was surprised. They had plenty of food stations all marked, even the ketchup area. They had two omelet stations and fresh craved ham and everything else you could ever think of for breakfast. Plenty of hot choices and nice craved roast beef for lunch. The burgers were fresh grilled and the pizza was good also. The food service in the windjammer was continuous. You could get breakfast at 11:30 am. Lunch started at 11:30 am. We did not eat any dinners in the windjammer.
There was always crew at the coffee, lemonade, and tea stations to serve you. You did not get your own. Also, plenty of crew at each food station helping to serve you rather than serving yourself. (Health issues)
They had a self-serve ice cream station also. I did not try it, but it seemed very popular with the kids. The coffee is Seattle Bests now, much an improvement over the “brick” coffee.

Jade - Hubby had lunch here a few days, very good with different choices of oriental food each day. He was disappointed to find out that the sushi was only offered in the evenings.

Dinning Room - We were in the Swan Lake dinning room on the 5th deck. We had table #572, main seating (for eight) in the corner by the window, a very nice location. The food was very good, not exceptional. We had the filet, lobster, lamp chops, etc. We did not have prime rib. The Christmas dinner included Beef Wellington, it was excellent. They always had the standard steak and grilled chicken options if you did not like something on the menu. If you want something fixed different, just ask. If you want something special, like shrimp cocktail every night, just ask.
This was the first cruise that I was very disappointed in the desserts. They were just ok and the cheesecakes were very dry.

As always, the dinning room service was excellent. Our waitress treats our son like a king.

Alternate Dining – We did not eat at Chops or Portfolios. Our table mates did eat at Chops and said it was excellent, the best steak they have ever had. Just pick a day and make reservations as soon as you board, it fills up quick. Also, get on the wait list if you need to, that is how our tablemates got in.

Café Promenade - They had little sandwiches, very good, the salami ones were the best. They also had pizza other assorted light snacks and the best cookies.
Only coffee or water was available here.

There is a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream stand (I did not try it) it cost $2.50, I think. The free ice cream stand was next door, Sprinkles, but seemed to be broken for the most part of the cruise.

Entertainment – Do not miss the ice skating show. It was very good, amazing what they can do on a small rink. When we walked in, there was no one there collecting tickets. The headliner was the Russian comic, Yakov Smirnoff. He was excellent. We had seem him on the Majesty of the Seas 9 years ago. We did not see any of the other shows, but my mom did. She said they were about the same as on any rccl ship.

Cruise Critic, Repeaters and Crown and Anchor parties – did not make it to them

Captain’s Cocktail party
– I was disappointed on how they are doing this on the bigger ships now. You got Champagne and just walked around in the promenade area. If you wanted to shake the captain’s hand, you went to another room at a certain time. Then the captain did speak from the top of the promenade level later on. I liked it better when everyone was all in one lounge area together.

Casino – The casino was nicely laid out except for the table games. They were all cramped into one area against the wall. It was hard to move around. They had one craps table, one let it ride table, 3 or 4 Caribbean stub tables and around 7 blackjack tables. This cruise, the tables were all hopping every night and the slots machines were empty. They had mostly $10 blackjack tables and 2 $25 tables at night. And yes, if your credit card can support it, you can get casino money on your sign and sail card for a maximum of $1500 a day. If you want cash, just get it at the casino cashiers. If you need tip money or to break down bills for tips, use the casino cashier, not the purser’s desk on the last day, the line will be shorter.

Liquor – We had one bottle of wine and one rum bubbled wrapped in our checked luggage, no problem. They had the signs posted at the entrance to the ship about their liquor policy and they were taking and holding liquor bought on the islands when you re-boarded. We found the rum to be reasonability priced on the ship. We ordered 4 bottles on the last day. If you order earlier for in room consumption, there is a $9.50 per bottle extra charge. They did not have any liquor boxes; The Navigator’s 300 boxes for the week were loaded onto the Explorer. The roll aboard cooler we received for a Christmas present from RCCL came in handy here.

The Islands – This cruise was more about being with our family and friends at Christmas than the itinerary. We have been to all the places before but I will tell you what we did.

Nassau – Really glad we did not plan anything here. The ship did not leave Miami until 9:30 pm the first night as we were waiting for 500 people. I thought we would make up the time, but we did not get into Nassau until 10 am and left there at 2pm. A lot of the excursions were cancelled. We just got off and walked down the street to the straw market. Go there first, you will find the same things as in the little stores along the way and cheaper. Everything starts to looks the same in the straw market, walk to the back, them seemed to bargain more and help you find what you wanted. A lot of local crafts and the usual shirts, towels, and jewelry.

St. Thomas – We went to Coki beach. Cab fare is $7 per person. They will fill a van before they leave. The snorkeling was very good here. By the early afternoon, the beach was very crowded but we had a great time. They sell drinks on the beach. Food was available but we decided to wait until we got back to the ship. Lounge chairs were available for $5.We had our own equipment but you could rent it there also. Cabs are available for the trip back, $7 each. It was about a 20 minute ride each way. We decided to skip the shopping when we returned.

San Juan - This was Christmas day and we were only here until 2pm. It was raining also. All we did was walk out into the pier to check the liquor prices and pick up a few postcards.

Labadee – This was our best day for the weather, nice and warm and sunny. We did the parasailing. If you have never done it, do it, it was great. Sigh up on the TV the day you board. This fills up quickly. Since we did the parasailing, we did not eat until 2pm. The lunch was just ok. The burgers and hot dogs were ok, the chicken was fatty. The ribs looked the best bust were gone by the time we got there. Hint, when you get off the tender, go to the right. That is where the parasailing is and the aqua center and a lunch station. It was less crowed and there were some nice shady areas. If you want to do the aqua water park ($15 for adult and $10 for kids) sign up for a time right away when you get off the tender. This also fills up quickly. Hubby and son enjoyed it. You are basically climbing and walking on inflatable icebergs out in the water. Everyone must wear a life vest. There were jellyfish in the water. You just had to be careful. If you got stung, they had plenty of medicine at the stand. We did not have time for the shopping but my mom said it was very good. As we boarded the tender back, I saw a lot of nice island statues and stuff.

Christmas – The ship was nicely decorated for Christmas, trees and holly everywhere and a really nice gingerbread display in the promenade area. Santa came on Christmas morning at 8:15 and had gifts for all the children. A backpack for the younger ones and a shoulder pack for the older ones. The adults got a roll aboard picnic/cooler. They had eggnog and caroling on Christmas Eve.

Debarkation - Since we were staying in Miami, we had late colored tags, blue. They were supposed to be for 10am, but it was around 10:30 am when we got off. We waited in the Diamond and Platinum private area. On the last evening the compass will list the times for the colored tags. If you want a different tag, just ask your room steward or pick them up at a box near the purser’s desk.

Final Thoughts – The Navigator is truly a big and beautiful ship. Everything you could ever image is right there. The crew was wonderful, always smiling and eager to help. They are cleaning and inspecting all areas on a daily basis. The air condoning was not quite right, the halls were cold but the other areas were normal or warm. Our room seemed cold all day and a bit warm at night. But, for the second 7-day sailing on a brand new ship, I would say that it went exceptional.

What is next – Another RCCL cruise with our favorite waitress, Mellany, on whatever ship she is on, hopefully, the Navigator.

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