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Renee Croome

Age: 37

Occupation:Kitchen Designer

Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Navigator of the Seas

Sailing Date: January 8th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This is without a doubt the most beautiful cruise ship I've been on. There is a ton of activities available and alot to see on this ship. The decor is not gaudy like you see on a lot of ships, it is very tasteful and elegant. With that being said, I did have a few areas that I felt could be improved. The elevators are extremely slow...take the stairs if you can.

Food: I was disappointed with the quality of the food. At every meal my party (5 including me) and I had trouble deciding what to have because...nothing sounded or looked to appealing. The taste of the food was like cafeteria type food (Think Ponderosa or Bonanza steak house). This is the second Royal Caribbean cruise I've taken. The first was a very old ship Song of America and Navigator, which is one of the newest ships, and the food on both was equally disappointing... For example...even though we were in the middle of the Caribbean, they used canned fruits to top their deserts, then a few days later would serve "Chilled Strawberry Bisque" which ended up being the drained juice that frozen strawberry come in...

Service: The service on this ship was very disappointing compared to other ships I've been on. I've also traveled on Disney three times and Princess once. The staff performed their tasks efficiently for the most part, but were not very friendly, most of them past by without looking at you. Our waiter and asst. waiter in the dinning room were very quiet speaking to us only to take our order. On the first day of our trip we asked our cabin steward for a child sized life vest as there were only two adult sized vests in our cabin...we never got it even after repeatedly asking for it. The mirror in our room was always dirty and we had a difficult time finding towels for the pool. The cabin steward would take the dirty ones at night and not replace them, when we would ask for new ones the next morning he would tell us he would put them in our cabin for us and then never did...we had to go up on deck every day and sign out new ones (they charge you $20 per towel if you loose it).

Which brings me to my next complaint...

Charges: there are allot of hidden charges...soda is not available unless you are willing to pay $6 per day per person. The other cruised I have taken have at least offered sodas during meals in the dining room, but not this ship...they have fruit punch, lemonade or iced tea only. If you want to go to Johnny Rockets it will cost you $4.95 per person and then you still have to pay extra for soda (when we tried to have lunch, there was over an hour wait!) or malts, Ben & Jerry's ice cream costs $2.95 per person, and if you want to dine in one of the "reservation only" dining rooms "Portofino or Chops Grille" it will set you back $25 per person! And you guessed it, you still have to pay for soda!

My last complaint is that the activities seem to be arranged at times that are not convenient...example...dining is at 6 & 8 pm and you need 2 hours to eat, they plan the shows at 5pm, 7pm or 9pm. They should be at 4 & 6pm for before dinner and 8:30 & 10:30 after dinner...we always seemed to be saying, well this doesn't start for another 45 minutes, or this started 20 minutes ago... We didn't get to see one movie, go ice skating or rock climbing wall because the times were so limited. On the good side, the mini golf is 24 hours and at least one pool and one hot tub is open 24 hours.

Ok, one last cabin was tiny....we had an inside cabin - no window. It was 158 sf and felt even smaller...we asked to have a chair and table removed just because we were tripping over it.

Alright, enough complaining...this is what I really enjoyed about the cruise!

As I said before, the ship itself is incredible! It has a mall down the middle of it! The drinks are very good! But they try to give you every one in a souvenir glass which you pay extra for so ask for a regular glass when you order your drink. When they come around with a plate full of drinks, they don't have rum in it unless you ask them to add it but it costs the same. They will also add more some times if you think you didn't get enough it there.

We found the staff in the Windjammer cafe at dinner time to be more accommodating and attentive than the dinning room, so we spent the second half of our cruise eating dinner there. The Banana cream pie and Coconut cream pie is delicious and if you've never tried sushi, they have it at dinnertime at Jade.

Ports of Call: This was my favorite part of the trip! The first stop was at Labadee, an exclusive area at the northern tip of Haiti owned by Royal Caribbean. This was a fun day. We had to take a tender from the ship to the shore, but this went fairly quickly. When you get to the beach there are men waiting to set up chairs for you but they expect a tip for this. There is a wonderful BBQ lunch and plenty of drinks available. They have rafts available for rent as well as wave runners, parasailing, etc. There are two separate beaches...the first one you come to will be the most crowded because it is the only one you can swim in, but if you are just sun bathing, venture to the second one where it is less crowded. There are two separate shopping buildings...The first has merchants outside and inside that are very aggressive! They each try to lure you in as you pass by with promises of the lowest price...they all have pretty much the same items in there space. DON'T PAY FULL PRICE! They expect you to barter and will usually come down 1/3 of the first price or more. The next shop is a little more sophisticated with a rum sampling bar and lots of souvenirs, this shop doesn't barter at all...

We enjoyed this island so much that we stayed until the last tender.

The next island was Ocho Rios in Jamaica. We found the locals to be very friendly and helpful. We opted to not do a shore excursion, but to head out on our own. We met a taxi driver named Denzel who charged us $11 to take us to Dunn River Falls which was so much fun! It does take some skill to climb the falls and you definately need aqua shoes (we bought used ones at the market in Labadee for $6) or they are available to rent at Dunn River Falls. We didn't sign up with a guide just jumped in a grabbed onto a group as it went was great fun and a must see in Jamaica. There is a shopping area at Dunn River Falls where you can get some good bargains if you can stand bartering with the aggressive locals. We asked Denzel to come back for us in two hours, which he did. We wanted to go to the shopping area near Margaritaville, but he told us of another area that was better shopping called Soni's plaza. He charged us another $11 for the trip from Dunn River Falls to the shopping area which was indeed a great place to shop! You can barder in these shops too and the sales people aren't nearly as agressive but do follow you around, as they are commission based.

In Grand Cayman we decided to take a shore excursion. Most of what we saw on the island was ravaged by Hurricane Ivan! We went to the Sting Ray City, which is not a city at all but a spot way out in the water where there is a reef. You climb aboard a boat that has an underwater observation deck. You get to watch as a diver jumps in and lures the sting rays over with food. It was really something to see. Keep in mind this vessel and the tender to it has no bathroom, its a good idea to go before you depart as you will be about an hour and a half before you get back. We then went on to the turtle farm and Tortugas rum cake factory. This was interesting, but I felt bad for all these turtles crammed together in a tank, waiting for "harvesting". The Factory has really good prices on Rum cakes if you like can also sample them. After the shore excursion we shopped in the area across from the pier before taking the tender back to the ship. Cozumel Mexico had the best shopping of our trip. The shopping guide on the boat will give you a coupon for a free taxi ride into town to the Forum shops. From there you can make your way back to the pier shopping along the way. Without the coupon, the ride is $6 a car load. Make sure to go to "A touch of Gold" where you can make a 3 minute phone call for free to any where in the world. You can talk longer or make other calls at a cost of 50 cents a minute. It was the only place we found on this trip were we could call home (except the ship at a cost of $3 per minute). Our cell phone didn't work until we got back to Miami. While in Cozumel we also to a cab to The Blue Beach which cost about $7 a car load. This is a small beach with an admission of $5 per adult, but you get a $5 voucher to use inside for drinks...It was worth it.

Hope you find this review helpful.

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