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Jay Coates

Age: 51

Occupation:Owner of Business

Number of Cruises: One

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Navigator of the Seas

Sailing Date: January 10th, 2004

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

We just completed our 1st cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas. We sailed 01/10/04 to the Western Caribbean for 7 days. We chose this ship because it is one of the newer large vessels with lots of amenities. We chose the Western Caribbean because the itinerary included places we had never been. Haiti/Labadee, Ocho Rios/Jamaica, Georgetown/Cayman Islands and Cozumel/Mexico.

1st stop - Labadee, Haiti, Royal Caribbean’s private ocean side retreat. We had a very relaxing day, lying out on the beach, exploring and had a great BBQ lunch on shore. There were a lot of options available for the adventurous guest for a fee, including jet skis, kayaking, snorkeling and floating mats.

2nd stop - Ocho Rios, Jamaica. There were many excursions available here. We chose Brimmer Hall Plantation, a tour of an 18th century estate and Dunn’s River Falls. The Estate tour was leisurely and interesting. We got to see some of the island on our drive to and from the estate and to the falls. Dunn’s River Falls is a beautiful cascading waterfall over ledges and rocks. Guides take you from the bottom to the top of the falls by helping you climb up the fall ledges and foot holes in the rocks. In between climbs you rest in natural pools of water. The climb takes about an hour. Some people dropped out along the way (there are exit points as you climb), but most of our group made it to the top. Definitely something we will remember. The cost was $59 per adult plus tips for the driver, tour guide and Dunn’s River guides (2) all of whom did a great job.

3rd stop – Georgetown, Grand Caymans. Again there are many excursions available at this port of call. We chose the Snorkeling, Stingray City Combination. Great trip! Stingray City is everything we had heard about it and more. Touching and feeding these beautiful animals as they glide around you is incredible. The cost was $58 per adult plus tip for the boat crew. Well worth the money. The stingrays should not be missed.

In the afternoon, we visited Georgetown and did some shopping. People were very nice and I would like to visit again in the future.

4th stop – Cozumel, Mexico. While there were a lot of excursions available, we decided to take a day to just look around. We went on the Royal Caribbean’s guided shopping tour. Dean and Josie were great. They would help people with all types of questions about jewelry, dining and anything else you could think to ask.

About the ship Navigator of the Seas. We arrived Saturday around 1 pm. Check in couldn’t have been easier. We went to our stateroom with a balcony (a great upgrade if you can swing it) and then headed out to explore the ship. Beautiful design, lots of amenities and a wonderful crew. The staff went out of their way to be helpful and friendly. This is true about housekeeping, the waiters and other food servers and people just walking through an area. They never acted put upon if asked directions or an opinion.

We had read reviews about how expensive everything was on board. We don’t agree. Yes, we did have to pay for all of our drinks, but we did not find them to be way over priced. The gift shops and general store on board have to compete with the shops in port. The ship stores had sales everyday and it is up to you and your budget how much you want to buy. The Inter-active TV in each room allows you to constantly monitor how much money you have spent at any given moment.

Something I wasn’t expecting was the amount of cigarette smoke we were exposed to. Every bar allows smoking as does the casino, the night clubs and all open decks. The smoke from the bars drifts out into the Central Grand Promenade and was annoying. The casino is very smoky most of the time. The open decks should be segregated. Possibly one half smoking the other half non-smoking would be an acceptable compromise. It’s 2004 and this issue has been settled in most of the U.S.A. and Royal Caribbean should lead the way to accommodate its non-smoking guests.

The food was very good to excellent and VERY plentiful. The homemade cookies were a favorite afternoon snack. We did not eat at the two specialty restaurants on board. We had actually planned to, but after eating in the main dining room we thought why should we. Our table provided great company and excellent service. All of the meals were superb and there were enough choices to satisfy the pickiest eater.

My wife climbed the rock wall to the top! The staff was very helpful with tips and hints on how to accomplish this without any injuries. We also played miniature golf. It is almost surreal to play golf on an open deck at sea with miles of ocean all around you. The basketball course is first rate.

We didn’t get in the pool (too busy). We did try one of the many hot tubs one afternoon. Unfortunately, the water wasn’t that warm due to the constant bubbler that introduces outside air into the heated water, cooling it down.

The shows at night were spectacular. Professional comedians, a Broadway Review, an Ice Dancing Show and other fun acts were a great way to end an evening. The main theatre is amazing. Big seats set in an incredible décor. Dark woods, carpeting and mood lighting highlight a 1st class stage with its own orchestra.

The Tuxedo Rental Program couldn’t have been easier. You can order online by giving your measurements and a credit card number. The tux was in our cabin when we arrived with two shirts, one for each “formal” night. After the 2nd formal night, the staff came and picked up the tux. Easy and I looked great. The cost was $85 without shoes.

Bingo was a fun activity and a way to gamble without going into the casino. The “Jackpot” rolled up all week and was won on the last afternoon. One couple won over $8,500 cash! Unfortunately, that couple wasn’t us, but Dutch, the Assist. Cruise Director was a lot of fun and kept everyone laughing and having fun.

Royal Caribbean has a new option for tipping the staff. You can use their recommended tip amounts for the 4 categories (Housekeeping, Head Waiter, Waiter, and Back Waiter) or you can more to these amounts if you would like. You sign the sheet and turn it in to Customer Relations and the total is charged to your Sea Pass Account (your Credit Card). This gets rid of the problem of stuffing envelopes with the right amount of cash on your last night, when you hand out your tips to the people who took such good care of you.

Exiting the ship the following Saturday morning was quicker and easier than I imagined. We were off the boat by 9 am and headed home. We drove to the port and paid for parking. Our bill came to $84 for the 7 ½ days. Seems steep to me.

Our very first cruise was very relaxing and a lot of fun. We will definitely sail with Royal Caribbean again. Wonderful service, great amenities and a beautiful setting.

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