Age: 29; husband age 31
Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Navigator of the Seas
Sailing Date: December 4th, 2004
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
We sailed on Navigator of the Seas on Dec. 4-11. This was our second cruise, our first being 3 years ago on the Carnival Triumph. While we were very satisfied with Carnival, we thought the bigger RC ships looked pretty neat. Overall, we thought RC was a notch above Carnival in many respects. We had a wonderful overall cruising experience and would definitely cruise with RC again.
Embarkation: we decided to fly into Miami the night before which we would highly recommend to anyone. We stayed at Sofitel (very nice hotel-we used Hotwire and got a room for $77) and then took a taxi to the pier (cost about $24 for 4 people). We met a very nice couple from England and split the tab. We got to the pier about 10:30 a.m. and were inside within minutes. We then went through the necessary procedures at the front desk; the first RC person we ever met was extremely nice, a pattern for the week to come. We had to wait in line for about an hour after we got our cards, etc, because they didn’t let the people on the boat until noon. Once they opened the doors though we were on within minutes.
We went to our room (an interior room toward the aft of the ship) and found it to be acceptable. The room was set up much better than Carnival and had lots of mirrors which made it look big. We found out it also had a lot of storage space. We always think it’s worth saving the money on getting a nicer room because you’re hardly in it anyway.
We then went to check out the deck. We sunned for a while and then took a run on the running track. A very nice track for the ship, but kind of was an obstacle course on later days when everyone was sunning. We found running on Deck 4 to be much easier even though the signs said to not run there, no one said anything to us, it was in the shade and much less crowded.
Our first day was at sea and formal night. They had the first of the Broadway type shows at night which was fabulous!! We thoroughly enjoyed it. Also a plus was that they did not push Bingo before the shows like they did on Carnival, you could go to Bingo in a separate area on the ship if you wanted (we never did).
2nd day we stopped at San Juan. The ship stopped in the afternoon and in retrospect, this was the stop we probably should’ve arranged for a shore excursion. By the time we got off the ship and to the taxi, it was about 2:30 p.m., with San Juan being an hour ahead at 3:30 p.m. We had wanted to visit the Bacardi Rum Factory but found out that we wouldn’t be able to make it there in time before it closed. We instead met a very nice family who we shared a taxi with to downtown and the fort ($3/per person each way). Downtown was nothing special although they did have a Walgreens which was kind of nice. The Fort was neat and made up for the disappointment of the shopping.
3rd day we stopped in St. Thomas. Beautiful island. We went down to the shopping area by taxi (again something like $6 per person each way) and picked up some rum for a fair price (we found it cheaper later at the pier in St. Maarten though). We also did the necessary hair braiding which took up most of our stop (we also found this probably was cheaper in Nassau but saved the hassling when on the next stops, they saw I already had braids!). Others we talked to went to Magen’s Bay and said it was nice. As with all of these islands, we left feeling that we could definitely visit again and have more things to do.
4th day we stopped in St. Maarten. We took a taxi ($5/per person each way) to Orient Beach. There was a big spot to line up just outside the pier so it was very easy to do this on your own. On our first cruise we did some shore excursions and decided this time we’d save the money and go on our own. We generally found it to be much cheaper and much less structured. Orient Beach (clothing optional) was absolutely beautiful. We rented a jet ski for an hour and that was a really neat way to take in the island. We slept on the beach a while and returned to the pier. There were lots of little shops near the pier and this satisfied our shopping for the day (same stuff, different island, basically). We had the 2nd of the Broadway type shows this night (I think, the days run together) and this was as excellent as the first. Singers were amazing, sets and costumes were awesome. Very, very well done.
5th day was another relaxing day at sea. These days were wonderful and allowed us to take in the ship. Another formal night and this time we got tickets (free) to the ice show which was fabulous! Hard to believe something like that can be on a boat, this was definitely worth seeing.
6th day was Nassau and we had a lot of fun going to the Straw Market. That’s our kind of shopping though, bargaining. We got some good deals and the necessary souvenirs, bought some more rum and then headed back to the ship. If you don’t like being hassled, this might not be the place for you. We found out toward the end it was best to tell them how much money you had left and they’d get the price down to where you wanted it (we really only did have as much left as we told them, though).
7th day we were back in Miami. We had packed up the night before and waited around, sadly, for our colors to be called. It took about an hour after our colors were called to be completely through customs and off to the airport.
Food: was absolutely excellent the entire time. We never tried Chops or Portofino because the dining room food was so good. Even Windjammer was very good with their buffets (hard to believe they can cook so well for so many people). And the little café on the promenade also had good food to snack on. We tried Ben and Jerry’s, it was okay but not really worth the extra money. We also tried Johnny Rockets, same thing, good onion rings and sundaes, but not really worth the $3.95/per person cover charge when the other food was so good. The drinks were not too spendy and we found they were mixed very generously which made them worth their money.
Service: was very good as well. We found that we didn’t get to know our waiters quite as well as the last cruise, but found the staff to generally be very attentive, helpful, courteous and making sure everyone was satisfied. Our stateroom attendants were excellent and provided the necessary towel entertainment each night. It was amazing how they could slip in and out 4-5 times a day and make sure everything was neat and clean. Made it hard to come home and pick up after ourselves again!
Entertainment: awesome. See comments above. We found this to be much better than Carnival. Also the games were very good and RC gave away some nice gifts rather than the plastic gifts on Carnival. The cruise director, James Andrews, was very funny and very good at his job. We saw him around the ship all the time. The parades on the Promenade were also very neat, we thought it would’ve been neat to have one of the rooms that overlooked the Promenade for these. The mini golf was fun. We didn’t experience the casino, bingo, rock climbing wall, spa, gym or kids programs so can’t speak to those things. The kids did a fun program at the supper meal one night. We were amazed that all the kids seemed generally happy; maybe this was due to the fun stuff they had on board for the kids. We were happy to have left ours at home, however.
Overall, we did a lot of research and read a lot of reviews before going on this cruise. Our overall impression is that the people that have so much to complain about really must have much higher expectations than we did or they are looking for things to complain about. When we sat down to think about it, we were hard pressed to think of anything to even complain about. It’s all what you make of it and what your attitude is. RC was awesome, the ship was just beautiful and very clean and we would definitely sail with RC again.