Number of Cruises: 14
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Navigator of the Seas
Sailing Date: June 21st, 2003
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
The cruise we went on was a family cruise. There were 16 of us in our group, and before I begin, I will say that we had a wonderful time. I will include all aspects of the cruise from landing at the airport to returning to the airport, and tell the good parts and bad parts.
Airport Arrival and Pier Transfer - We flew into Fort Lauderdale airport (cheaper) and purchased the transfers from RCCL. When we got our luggage, we were directed to follow a lady outside to where the bus would pick us up. The bus had just arrived at the airport and we would be picked up within 5 minutes. About 25 minutes later, the bus pulled up and loaded us on the bus. This was about 12:30 PM. We then proceeded to pick up three more times and did not leave the airport until 1:15 PM. We got to the pier about 35 minutes later, and were instructed to stay on the bus until the luggage was unloaded. The bus driver got off the bus and started to try and find porters to help him. Ten minutes later, he had not found any porters and the Royal Caribbean folks were just standing there looking at him. I proceeded to get off the bus to help him, and was quickly swarmed by RCCL people telling me to get back on the bus. I told them as nicely as possible that the driver needed help and they needed to help him. They reluctantly went over to get the baggage off, and started throwing the bags off the bus onto the ground. My wife and I proceeded inside finally after the bus was unloaded.
Embarkation - This part was nice. The line was pretty long to get through the process, but the line moves very fast. They have people stationed all over the place to check your documents so that you have everything prepared before you get to the front of the line. This part did not take long at all.
The Ship - Like all other RCCL ships, this one is very pleasing tot he eye. It is kept immaculately clean, and is huge. The artwork in the stairwells, like other ships, is very interesting. The area on the starboard aft side between the 4th and 7th floors has some very nice pieces that our should take the time to check out. This ship has a lot of the same amenities as the other Voyager Class ships, and some of the areas have been moved. The Windjammer has been moved to the back of the ship, and has the Petrofina and Chops Grille restaurant inside. The spa and workout areas have been moved to the front of the ships. The photo gallery is on the 3rd deck. All in all, the ship is very nice. The rooms seem to be the same size, but the balconies are definitely bigger.
Dining - The food, especially in the Windjammer, seems to have actually improved. Also, the service we had was excellent. Carla, Eugen, and Wendy did an excellent job for the whole week.
Nassau - I have been to this stop several times, and it was very nice. We did the Stingray tour with the Thriller boat ride, and that was as fun as anything I have done on cruises ever. We were able to swim with the stingrays for about 3 hours, and even got to feed them. This is definitely an experience that everyone should experience once in their life. The straw market has gotten more high tech, and does not seem to be the native market I always looked forward to going to.
St. Thomas - St. Thomas has to be about the most beautiful port we have visited. If you want to buy liquor or jewelry, buy it here. We took a taxi over to Magen's Bay, and it was beautiful. The taxi was $6 per person each way, and the entrance to Magen's Bay was $3 per person. It was very nice, ad not real crowded. Also, they have chairs, mats, jet skis, and other stuff to rent on the beach. We went tot he beach first and then shopping. I suggest going to the Del Sol store. It is a store that sells items that change colors in the sunlight. It is a neat place to see, and I guarantee you will walk out with something.
San Juan - I have been to San Juan several times. On this itinerary, you are only there from 7AM-2PM, so there is not allot of time to get off the ship. The shopping is pretty good, and you should try out the Butterfly People shop. They have nice butterfly sculptures made out of real butterflies on a Plexiglas box. It is a little pricey, but worth it just to see some of the sculptures.
Labadee - This is a beach stop, and RCCL has done a fantastic job putting money into this stop. The facilities have been improved ten-fold, the beaches are awesome, and the native market is something to experience. If you think use car salesmen are bad at haggling, you are in for a treat. It is cool to go see, and they do sell some nice stuff. If you need to get a unique gift, go here and you can find something nice and cheap! Also, they have set up hair-braiding at set rates instead of haggling like other stops. My wife got here hair braided, and it was not real expensive.
Ship activities - There are a lot of scheduled activities on board, but my favorite are the horse racing and belly flop. For those that have not been on a cruise, here is what the horse racing entails. They set up a racetrack with 16 spaces and have six horses on poles, labeled 1 through 6. The Cruise Director has three dice that he rolls, and the horse move according to the roll of the dice. They allow betting on the races as well. The belly flop is just what it says. There are always some good performances, and this is just neat to watch.
Shows - I do not go to a lot of the shows, but my wife did. She went to the ice skating, and it was amazing. It is neat that they do all the jumps and spins that you see in the Olympics, only they do it on a moving ship. The comedians on this cruise were awesome. They were extremely funny.
Debarkation - Although this is the worst part of the cruise because it means you are leaving, it is actually not bad on the ship. They have plenty of space to wait comfortably.
Airport return - This part was as bad as getting from the airport. We could not find a bus to take us to the airport, and had to convince a bus driver to take us. We could not get any help from the RCCL or Coach USA people waiting outside the terminal.
***This is the first cruise where you could not get free soft drinks in the dining room at dinner. This is a change I for one did not like.
***If you are into live music, go to the Two Poets Pub on the Promenade. There is a guy there that plays every night, and it is a lot of fun to listen. every once in a while, dancing will also start. It really is an enjoyable way to spend the evening.
***The pool waiters are very nice. If you can find Junior Brown, he will do an excellent job for you.
***This is the first cruise where the receipts you get back from the bar waiters includes an area where you can add a separate tip on top of the others that are already added. These tips are kept only by the waiter that serves you. This is cool because you can tip a couple of waiters at the pool or something at the beginning of the week, and you will never have to find a waiter all week.
Overall - Like I said, we had an excellent time. Other than getting to and from the ship, it was an extremely excellent time. The stops of San Juan and Nassau are a little short, and they are both on 7AM-2PM ports, but the itinerary is very good. The ship is awesome ad I think anyone that books this ship will have an excellent time.
***If you have any questions about this ship, this itinerary, or RCCL, please feel free to ask me. I have been on 14 cruises, all on RCCL. I will continue to only go on RCCL cruises, and they are the best way to get away from a stressful job for a week.***