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Richard M. Sperber

Age: 48


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Navigator of the Seas

Sailing Date: April 23rd, 2005

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

I would like to share my experience of my family’s cruise on the vessel Navigator of the Seas. Needless to say the cruise was great disappointment.

Saturday - We arrived approximately 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, 2005 for the embarking procedure. All went well, from the porter taking our luggage at the curb (we did not opt for the airport vouchers) through the embarking procedure. From what I read, I thought this would be a long tedious procedure. – it was not. In fact getting off and returning to the vessel on all the ports went very smoothly.

In walking around the ship we went to the ship’s Spa. We got on a tour that was very informative. At the end of the tour they said if you take a massage today you will receive $20 off. I tried to make an appointment for the message but they were all booked for the day. I suggested since they cannot make good on the discount today that they honor the offer for one of my two massages that I am booking with them today. They said no. I thought that was poor customer relations.

We were wandering around the sights in the promenade and decided to make reservations at the Chops Grille. We went to the Champagne bar to call. The bartender was very helpful. We tried the extension twice – no answer. The bartender tried and he said this was very unusual. He finally got someone and he said to call back in five minutes. We did - no answer. I went up to the Grille and there was no one at the front entrance of the restaurant. I asked someone to find someone for me and he did. How much effort and energy does a guest have to make? I made the reservation for Friday night.

About 7:00 p.m. we returned to our cabin and we were still missing one piece of luggage. There was a voicemail (the phone system was easy to follow) that there was one large piece being held by security. I went down to guest relations and they had security escort me to the luggage. They asked me to open the luggage, which was now on the floor. I did. I asked them what are you looking for. The security agent, did not know because she was not the one to examine the bag. She called the supervisor via a walkie talkie and then asked me if I had a knife. I said no. She said O.K. I closed up the luggage and she told me I could take it. I was shocked on two counts. After x-raying my luggage and questioning the items in it, to let me regain control of it after answering a security question with a simple “no”, shocked me. This lead me to believe that your security is very weak and how does this impact my family. The second situation was when the security agent was done with the luggage she wanted ME to move this large piece by myself back to the cabin. I told her YOU bring it up to the room and left.

I went to guest relations to complain about the above situation.

Question: Are the steward and their assistant suppose to introduce themselves to you? If so, they did not on this day or any other day.

Sunday – My wife and I went to the Pilaties class at 9:00 a.m. It was our first introduction to this type of class. We enjoyed it but were surprise when we were paying the $10 surcharge that the instructor suggested to us to tip him where the receipt is marked “TIP”.

In using the shower in the cabin I notice there was no shampoo or conditioner. Something that I thought would be common place in an upscale cruise line. So we went to the general store and purchased shampoo and body wash.

We went to the Windjammer for breakfast. We perused the selection and were bumping into people left and right. No flow of people - we were warned by other people who went on the Navigator or Voyager this would be a problem. They were right! But we had no choice because the dinning room was closed. I ordered a tomato and mushroom omelet of which I supposed to come back in six minutes. (There was only one cook making the omelets.) I did and received an everything omelet. I had to convince the person handing me the omelet that it was not what I ordered. She retook the order and asked me to come back in another six minutes. I thought I was back in college in a self serve cafeteria. I went to the both ketchup dispensers – emptied or broken. I spoke to one of the staff – she perfunctory got some ketchup packets – with no smile and no apology. This was the last time I would experience the Windjammer.

I approached the Explorations desk in the a.m. and explained to the women that I wanted a sailing cruise. She suggested that I take a Sailing/Snorkeling excursion. I responded that I wanted sailing only. Her response was, “Take this brochure (6 detailed pages) read it, and get back to me on what you want to sign up for.” I responded, “What are you here for? I need direction on what to take.” She THEN showed me a couple of sailing cruises. So she knew what I wanted but why did I have to press her for the answer?

In trying to make use of all the space in the cabin I realized that you could stow away your luggage underneath the beds. I also realized that the steward did not fully clean the room because I found receipts underneath the bed and also plastic bags that were tuck in between the couches.

By now the waste paper basket was at capacity from Saturday AND Sunday’s garbage. Yes you are correct in assuming that the waste paper basket was not emptied in two days even though the steward was in the room twice a day.

You are probably saying why didn’t you talk to someone at guest relations. I did. The person response was that this is a very hectic day and if I insisted on speaking to a manager then I will get you one. I said, “Yes”. Again he told me that this was a very hectic day … and I said “Yes” again. This dialogue went back and forth three times when I realized I was NOT going to be able to speak to a manager. He took copious notes and said someone will get back to you –. A women in charged of Explorations called me back and her comment was that this person was in training. I told her on the busiest day you have a woman in training with no support. I went and saw Keith regarding the security. He politely listened and gave us a complementary bottle of wine at dinner.

I went to the dining room to make arrangements for my Wife’s birthday that night at dinner. The manager wrote in his memo pad our table number (339) and what desert I wanted to giver her. That Sunday for dinner – Nothing!!

I went to the guest relations also on Sunday morning to order some flowers for my wife’s birthday. The Guest relations women reads in the loose leaf book and says, “They are only open from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.” Again I had to assert myself and suggest for her to find someone. She did and I was able to speak to the gentlemen directly. After prying out of him that there are other choices than roses, the florist made a nice variety and had them delivered that day at 12:30 p.m.

My wife and I found two chairs on deck 12 at the bow. It was a beautiful day and we were beginning to relax. Someone came around to offer us drinks. My wife ordered the drink of the day (Mango Tango) and I order a Margarita. I asked for Cuervo Gold of which he said, “We do no carry any” Twenty minutes later he comes back with the drinks of which mine had about six small ice cubes. Did you ever try drinking a warm margarita? Don’t - it was awful not only because of the warmth but it was terrible made. When I go on vacation I usually indulge especially when I am not driving. That was the last drink I had on the ship. My wife enjoyed the Mango Tango. By the way your onboard Liquor Store carries Cuervo Gold.

It was 1:45 p.m. and we decided to have lunch in the dining room. We were seated at a table for two. The waiter took our entire order including dessert. I thought it was very unusual but later I figured out why. At 2:00 p.m. the cooks have already disassembled the pasta area. I have already eaten the fish and was still pretty hungry. I asked the waiter for some pasta and he replied, “I am sorry but it is all put away. About ten minutes latter I told the waiter that I was really disappointed about not having some pasta. I am sitting in a restaurant on a cruise ship and I was going to leave still feeling hungry! My blood pressure shot up and I physically went to a head waiter who cordially asked what I wanted on the pasta of which he brought promptly. I am thinking that the amount of effort one has to make on this cruise to be served especially for food was shocking. Now for the desert – I ordered pie ala-mode. I received it with the melted ice cream! The reason the waiter asks for the full order is because he only has to make one trip to the kitchen – which is on the other side of the dining room.

Monday - after the steward supposedly cleaned the room - they still had not emptied the waste paper basket that is under the desk. Yes, you have it correct that for two and half days the wastepaper basket was not emptied and yes it was at 120% of capacity,

Again, I went to guest relations and now started to complain about the treatment I have been receiving on the vessel. I spoke to Keith again and strongly suggested the he have the steward empty the wastepaper basket and change the sheets. They did.

This morning my wife and I decided to have breakfast in the dining room. We were quickly escorted to a table with eight other people. The table did not have complete silverware or water. After I requested these items for the table it was then brought. My wife was offered coffee but she drinks decaffeinated. Another person offered coffee and again my wife wanted decaf. A THIRD time a person came to offer coffee for my wife and then I told that person “Get my wife some decaf coffee.” She finally got her coffee. My Wife did complement on how good the coffee tasted but regretted that I had to order your staff around in order to get it. You have great pastries (especially the croissants) but they are only offered once. Yes I did ask for more, twice – once when the waiter was taken my order and again when I was being served – never got them!

My experiences with the staff in different parts of the ship was so disappointing during these last first two days that I cancelled both restaurant reservations – one at Portofino (Monday night for four), the other at the Chop’s Grille (Friday night for four) and my Friday’s 11:30 a.m. appointment at the Spa.

Tuesday - At 8:00 a.m. the announcements for St. Thomas disembarkment were made even in the interior corridors. I came on the cruise to relax and not have to be on a set schedule and certainly not to be woken up at 8:00 a.m.!! This not only today but also tomorrow when we arrived at St. Martin. The explanation that I was given by the Cruise Director was that the passengers need to know when the ship is cleared to disembark. What about the people who are still sleeping? His response, “A smile.”

Again my wife and I decided to eat at the dining room for breakfast. I cordially asked the person who coordinated the seating if we could sit by ourselves. He was not too happy and explained that it would take some time to set up a table. It only took a few minutes and we seated and had nice breakfast. This time I persisted with the waiter to be served more croissants each time I saw him – I got them.

The original bar of soap that I received on Saturday for the shower now became a sliver. Again I waited for the steward the opportunity to clean the room and but again no new soap! I then had to call the steward for additional soap. Something I have never done before. One last thing regarding the Stewards - on the Friday night when you get the check out list it mentions a guest survey. Is that given to a select few or is everybody supposed to receive one. We did not receive one in either cabin! I went to guest relations to receive mine. Just to illustrate that not everything in the cabin was terrible – the room was extremely quiet, and the ventilation was superb. You did not feel stuffy and the HVAC was extremely quiet too.

I took my two teenagers on an scuba diving excursion. I address twice with Sea Trek about the experience level of my two teenagers and if they should take the one hour class in the pool before going on the excursion. They told me it was a waste of money because the excursion would do the same training also in a few feet of water. They were WRONG!! The results were that my daughter did not have enough time to acclimate to the scuba gear because the class was in 30 feet of water and with all the equipment on her it was too intimidating. She snorkeled around and waited for us on the boat.

Wednesday - Again my wife and I decided to eat at the dining room for breakfast. We again asked to be seated by ourselves. This seating coordinator was more resistant and began an explanation on why this was not advantageous to us. By this time on the cruise I have had it with the staff and I interrupted him and I said in a stern and arrogant fashion “I don’t want to hear it!” He seated us and we had a nice breakfast.

Again my two teenagers and I went on another excursion – Sailing. This was well planned including the number of people allowed on the boat. The crew was animated, fun and very knowledgeable about sailing. We all had a great time. (p.s. Our sailboat came in first of the three that were competing.)

In walking around the ship, you take for granted on how well maintained and clean it is both inside and outside of the common areas. In this category I give the vessel high marks. The interior is beautifully decorated including the artwork. I happen to see the movie Wimbledon on Friday in the plush theater. The screen size was excellent for the size of room, ventilation was quiet and comfortable especially in the plush seating.

We saw four Shows which were quite good and entertaining. The food was generally good to very good but the staff really detracted from the experience. One last story to top off my eating experience on the Navigator. The last meal (Saturday morning) we ate with a “group table” and when I had poured out the ketchup it was full of cocktail sauce. The waiter quickly replace it.

There are more experiences I had with the staff on the remaining days but I feel you got the gist. In conclusion on a scale of one to ten, my kids rate the vacation an eight and my wife and I rate it a five. I guess the anticipation of being pampered was overrated.

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