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Sara E. Thomas

Age: 36

Occupation:Travel Consultant

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Navigator of the Seas

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

This ship was very impressive, from the Royal Promenade to the ice skating rink and beyond. There were some issues at embarkation on 8/27 and this was due to Hurricane Katrina as a Cat 1 when it moved through Miami. It caused delays in the Navigator returning to home port and also delayed the Mariner by one day. At one time in the Miami terminal there were probably about 12-15,000 people being processed, and I think under the circumstances RCCL did all they could within their power to handle the situation. As with any megaship however, there were very long lines for shore excursions, guest relations, dining, shows and disembarkation. This is unfortunately one of the realities of cruising. One thing RCCL has done that I like is the introduction of their Royal Promenade staterooms. I had one and although it was small, storage space was adequate and there was a view of the promenade below. We were treated to a Mardi Gras parade, people watching and other forms of entertainment even though we had an inside cabin. The ice show was incredible and I highly recommend it. The ship is so big that the sailing is very smooth, and the ice skaters did a tremendous job, earning a standing ovation.

Dining was not exceptional in that their dishes weren't to the culinary standards of Michel Roux and Celebrity, but they were innovative in terms of variety and selection. Our stateroom attendant was top notch, and the dining staff very caring and courteous. The Dungeon Dance Club is not to be missed, especially if you like a gothic atmosphere. There was a comedian on board that did an excellent family show and adult show. The shopping was not to the par of what you would find in St. Thomas of course, but they had the usual logo items and necessary travel items in stock, as well as the usual inch of gold and watch sales. Conference facilities are excellent and a great value if you are considering hosting an event at sea. The new Freedom of the Seas is to be launched in 2006 and it promises to offer even more than the Voyager class with its rock climbing wall, miniature golf, basketball courts, kids and teen clubs, arcades, and the wonderful Johnny Rockets restaurant.

The casino was large and offered much more variety in gaming than I have seen on any other ship. The only real downside I can think of is just be prepared for long lines, exercise patience when you are waiting for your luggage, or just take everything in carryon bags. This does limit what you can buy in port though to take home, but saves waiting until 8pm to go to dinner because you don't have your bags.

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