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Karyn Warfield

Age: 30

Occupation:Homeschool Mom

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Navigator of the Seas

Sailing Date: March 29th, 2003

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

Before going on this past cruise on the Navigator of the Seas I read as many reviews on this ship as I could. There just didn’t seem to be enough information out there on it. I would like to share with you a few of the details of the ship as I saw them. A lot has been written about the specific areas so I won’t go into a lot of details about them with the exception of the Adventure Ocean program. I would like to go into detail about this program because this was my biggest concern before we left and I had a thousand questions about it.

Adventure Ocean – Explorers Studio B to introduce us to the counselors and they told a little bit about the program. At 8:15 we could go up to the Explorer room and sign our kids up for the program and they stayed to watch a Volcano explode.

When you sign your kids up they give them a name badge that they put back on the ribbons when you check them out. They let them pick a silly nickname to go on it as well. Each of the counselors has a silly nickname such as, Lollypop Lisa, Ewok Elizabeth, Grasshopper, Aladdin, etc. This is a great way for the kids to remember their names. They also are to go over and “park” their shoes in the parking area.

When you sign your kids in each time you sign each child in with their name and you give them your room number and indicate whether or not they can sign themselves out or not and who can pick them up. They guard the door very well and you can’t inter the room without catching the attention of one of the counselors. When you come back to pick up your kids you sign the paper and they mark them off. In the beginning they may ask you for identification if they don’t recognize you.

The counselors have a great deal of control over the kids. They handle things firmly but fairly. I was impressed by the way they did this. I was wondering how only 2 or 3 counselors could control a room full of kids but they do. And they do it very well. They don’t allow cheating and they don’t hesitate to stop a game when the kids are getting out of control.

My kids (who have never been left with strangers) had a wonderful time in the Adventure Ocean program. They never wanted to be with us and were always asking when they could go back to the kid’s area. I felt like this was their vacation and we were just tagging along.

With the evening turndown the kids received an Explorer Compass for the next day’s activities. Be sure to tell your room steward that you’ll need one because sometimes they forget or don’t know that you have kids. My daughter would go over the next day’s activities and tell us the things she didn’t want to miss.

The Explorer room is separated by the 3-5 year old room by a net stretched out across the room. On the 3-5 year old side there is a bathroom with 2 stalls. They are required to tell a counselor that they need to go to the bathroom and they are told to take someone with them that is they same sex. I insisted that if my daughter had to go to the bathroom that she take her brother or visa versa. They had no problem with that since they were siblings.

Every time you sign your kids participate in a program they will receive a coupon with one point on it. They collect these points and turn them in at the end of the cruise for prizes. My kids each had 13 which gave them 1 coupon for the scrapbook and an Adventure Ocean T-shirt.

There is also an after hours party. This is from 10pm to 1am. There is a charge of $5 per hour per child. Personally I felt that this was a worthwhile cost. We never got up and about in time for the morning program so my kids always wanted to go to the after hour program to make up for lost time. They really do a great job of entertaining them during this time. They could just sit them down in from of the TV with pillows but they don’t. They actively try to entertain them. They play Gaga-ball, BINGO, Connect 4, Basketball, Foosball etc. My kids never wanted to leave.

Another fear that I had was how they would deal with an emergency. We bought walkie talkies and had my daughter put one in her fanny pack. She was to call us if she needed something. On the first day we thought we would hear from her often but didn’t hear from her at all. In fact she asked if she could leave it off until she needed us. I just felt better knowing that she could reach us if she needed to. Come to find out, the walkie talkies didn’t work very far. It would work fine from deck 12 to our cabin on deck 10 but that’s all. We came back to pick up the kids one night to find out that my son had been hit in the nose by something or someone accidentally and he had a bloody nose. According to the counselor my daughter was more upset than my son because she couldn’t reach us and she knew that she was supposed to call me. I felt terrible about it but the counselors did a great job fixing my son up and the kids convinced my daughter that my son would be ok and got her to go play with them. The counselor told me right away about it when I came to pick up my kids. They are required to write a report about it as well. For this reason I wish they would issue pagers to all the parents.

The counselors are not included in the tip recommendations but we felt that they deserved a tip more than anyone else onboard. They should be given more recognition by the cruise staff for they did a phenomenal job. We wanted to tip them but felt awkward asking them how to do it. We spoke to the manager of the program and she said that they put all tips in a pool and split it evenly amongst the 14 counselors. We asked another counselor from another age group and she said the same thing. I have heard people say to tip them with alcohol but personally I disagree. Give them money and let them choose what they want to do with it. Who doesn’t like money?

Odds and Ends

We bought 2 children’s soda cards and 1 adult soda card totally about $86. Personally, I don’t think this was worth it. It sounds easy and convenient but, the bartenders seem a little put out giving you a soda because they don’t get a tip each time. They fill the cups which seem no bigger than about 12 -16 oz with ice then fill them with watered down soda. Your choice is either Sprite or Coke. That’s it unless you go to Johnny Rockets. Johnny Rockets has the best choices for soda and they give you much bigger glasses. I don’t think we got $86 worth or soda. Next time I would just bring it along and put it in the mini fridge or just buy it by the can.

They said that there were 800 children onboard during our sailing, 400 of which were teenagers. Honestly, it didn’t seem crowded with kids. I saw a lot of teenagers around but I’m not sure where the 400 other kids were. I saw a lot of those teens and pre-teens at Johnny Rockets. Some of them seemed a bit young to be going to a restaurant alone and ordering food. But that’s just me.

The pool deck

I read in many reviews that deck chairs were hard to come by. I didn’t find this to be so at all. There were always chairs available. Even on sea days. The pools were cold and salty. My kids weren’t impressed by it at all. It was rarely crowded. Most of the time though it was covered by a net and drained because of the bad seas. It was throwing huge waves on the pool deck most of the time.

Johnny Rockets

They had great food and we never had to long of a wait to get in. They close the outside portion of the restaurant at 5pm though. When you go inside they bring you a plate of both onion rings and French fries along with catsup and ranch sauce. Yum. They also bring you nickels to play the music. It never seemed to play our songs though. I guess too many songs were put in from everyone else. The music is fun though. I enjoyed everything I had. Be sure to bring Maalox if you plan on having the chili. The grilled cheese was wonderful. The chicken club sandwich was made with real chicken breast. The hot dogs are Nathan’s brand hot dogs which mean quality. The shakes were good but not as wonderful as what I read about. They are about $4 each.

Royal Promenade

We spent more time on the Royal Promenade than I thought we would. You have to go through there in order to get to many places on the other end of the ship. Sprinkles is a little soft serve ice-cream spot next to Ben and Jerry’s. We couldn’t pass by it with out getting one to go. We didn’t feel the need to try Ben & Jerry’s because the Sprinkles ice-cream was very good. Next to Ben & Jerry’s is a bar then the Café Promenade. This is where you can get sandwiches, pizza, and dessert. The pizza was a little spicy for me but my kids and husband liked it. Personally, I liked the cheesecake and cookies. We went here a lot after the kids program ended to get a snack on the way up to the room. There is also a coffee, tea, and hot chocolate area there.

Windjammer

Don’t let the Windjammer discourage you on the first day. I was so nervous in there the first day for lunch. It seemed like all 3,000 passengers were in there. After the first day, everyone seems to find their place and disappear. It didn’t seem crowded after that. If you want to eat in the Windjammer on the last day before you leave make sure you go early to get a seat. It was very hard to find a table when we went down at 9am.

Final thoughts

Lastly, I would have to recommend that everyone find a place to call your own. Even though we had a balcony room it was nice to find a place on the ship that we could retreat to that was “our spot”.

Feel free to e-mail me if you have any further questions. Blessings, Karyn

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