Navigator of the Seas Reviews

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48 User Reviews of Navigator of the Seas Cruise Ship

Western Caribbean
Publication Date: January 10, 2004

My wife and I just returned from the January 10, 2004 sailing of Navigator of Seas to the Western Caribbean. As the parents of five children, it's been 14 years since we last cruised, and our financial focus was on getting all through college. When our youngest graduated this past May, we thought it would be great to book another cruise and to compare our experiences with the ships of the early to late 1980's with today's mega-ships. Our last cruise was in 1988 on Royal Caribbean's "Song of America".

The Ship

Navigator of the Seas is an engineering and design marvel. It's gigantic in size, but exudes a genuine warmth and charm. One of the things I always liked about cruising was if I wanted to be around lots of people in a high energy atmosphere, it was easy to do. Conversely, if I wanted some peace and quiet and a bit of solitude, a more serene atmosphere was always easy to find. I really wondered if this is still the case on a ship the size of Navigator filled with well over 3,300 people. To my surprise, it is.


pool areas are perfect examples. One pool was always rocking with great music, lots of people, high energy, and fun activities - like a sexiest men's legs contest (lots of laughter at that one)! Yet just walk a little bit further down the deck and you come to the Solarium, a quiet, adults only pool area with plenty of space for peaceful reading, napping, or just gazing off into space.

I found all the public areas on the ship to be extremely well designed, very well appointed, and never felt crowded.


We arrived at Miami airport a little after 10 AM. We gathered our luggage and had no problems finding the Royal Caribbean bus, as we booked transfers from and to the airport. We departed the airport promptly, but were stuck in a traffic jam near the entry to the pier due to construction. It took about 45 minutes to go less than a mile. Once off the bus (by now about 12 noon), we experienced no delay getting checked in but the ship was not yet ready for boarding. We waited in a long line for about 30 minutes, and then were able to board the ship. We dropped our carry-on bags in our stateroom and enjoyed lunch, toured the ship, and by 4 PM our checked bags were in our stateroom.

The Cabin

I tend to be a bit claustrophobic, so opted for a bit larger stateroom. Cabin 9308 is a "C" category junior suite, listed at 268 square feet with a 68 square foot balcony. When it comes to cruise ships, pictures are not always worth a thousand words, and I was a bit skeptical after viewing the "virtual" photo tours on the web. Nevertheless, I must say this accommodation far exceeded my expectations. It is very generous in size featuring a walk-in closet, nice size bathroom (including a tub), tons of storage space, a small sofa and a very comfortable easy chair and ottoman. The balcony is fantastic.

Dolores, our stateroom attendant, was fabulous. The cabin was immaculate when we arrived and remained immaculate throughout the entire cruise. We never saw Dolores, except when she seemed to miraculously appear on the few occasions when we needed her for one small thing or another.

Food / Service

The dining rooms are another example of how well designed these mega-ships are. The three-story dining area seats 1,700 people, yet is open and airy because of a central atrium. Each level features lots of nooks and crannies, where only eight or ten tables seem to convey that you have your own "private" dining room. We were at a table of 10 next to a window on deck three.

Overall, we found the food to be very good. Some entrees were terrific. I thought the rack of lamb was the best I've ever had, a true compliment as I travel for a living and have had the pleasure of enjoying lamb in some of the country's finest restaurants. In general all the seafood dishes we had were very good. a few entrees were marginal and one, the New York strip steak, was poor. The menus offer good variety, and no matter what your tastes run to, you will always be able to find something to enjoy.

Service is extremely attentive. Our waiter was excellent, the head waiter actually performed services for you, and our assistant waiter tried very hard. He was very accommodating, would do anything to please, but being from Chile, he struggled with the language. He frequently misunderstood requests.

We tried "Chops" the specialty steak restaurant on deck 11. We enjoyed the food, the service was excellent, and felt we got a good value for the $25 per person surcharge.

Food offered in the Windjammer, a buffet restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, was generally fair to good with an excellent variety.


Don't miss the ice show, it's a real treat. We also really enjoyed the production show in the theater (lots of energy, singing and dancing to music from recent Broadway productions), and the farewell show Friday evening was terrific. The comedian was very talented and funny.

Ports of Call

By coincidence our last cruise was to the western Caribbean so we were familiar with each of the stops. We only booked one excursion, preferring to spend only a few hours at three of the four stops. To be honest, we enjoyed the ship so much we spent most of the time at the pool, on our balcony, or just walking around the magnificent Navigator of the Seas.

We did book a jeep "safari" excursion on Grand Cayman. This is our favorite stop. Cayman is immaculately clean with the most beautiful water and pure white sandy beaches. The 4x4 jeep was old and beat up, but fun to drive as it is a manual transmission. It also takes a little concentration, as the steering wheel is on the right (hence you're shifting with your left hand instead of your right), and traffic flows as in London, the opposite of the US.


Leaving the ship was a breeze. We were in the second color group and walked off the ship a few minutes after 8 AM. Getting through customs was very smooth and the customs agent was pleasant. To our surprise and pleasure, American Airlines has a check-in area at the dock. We were able to have the bags inspected, check our luggage to our final destination, and get our boarding passes at the dock. The bus trip to the airport was uneventful and we were in the terminal waiting for our flight less than one hour after leaving the ship.


My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our week on the Navigator of the Seas. We always felt cruising provides a fantastic value for the money charged, and this was absolutely the case again. The ship is truly magnificent, the food certainly above average, the weather fantastic; all in all a wonderfully relaxing week.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: July 19, 2003

[This is a detailed report of our Eastern Carib cruise aboard Navigator of the Seas, July 19-26, 2003...the 33rd voyage for this ship. It will only be of interest to those, like myself, who are novice cruisers that want to get all the information possible prior to cruising.]

Pre-Cruise info: We made our own travel and hotel accommodations because we were combining our cruise with a visit to my parents in Vermont. Consequently we flew from Phoenix to Manchester, NH...Manchester to Miami...Miami to Phoenix. Each of these trips involved a stop in Atlanta (needless to say we were flying Delta!). I want to recommend using E-Tickets to anyone who has not tried them. We were able to by-pass long check-in lines and use the electronic kiosks with no waiting. Instead of a myriad of paper tickets to keep track of we had a single six-character Delta booking number to input at Phoenix, Manchester and Miami. Boarding passes for each person and for both legs would then be printed out; you then proceeded to a (MUCH shorter) line to have your checked bags weighed (keep in mind a 50-lb. limitation/bag unless you don't mind

paying an additional fee...your bags will be heavier on return so give yourself some leeway). Overall, I give Delta high marks for this system.

We used Priceline to reserve hotel rooms in Miami; we'd never used this kind of bidding service before, and we were VERY pleased with the results. (I'd recommend reading the info at biddingfortravel. com if you've never used this service before.) I had learned that the closest hotels to the Port of Miami were located in the Downtown sector, so I bid $35/nite for two nites at a 3-star hotel. I got back a message in less than a minute indicating that no hotels would accept that bid at that time, but Priceline would check again immediately if I was willing to raise my bid by $9/room/nite. Consequently we got the Marriott Biscayne Bay property for $44/nite. We took a mini-van from the airport to the hotel as we had a total of nine pieces of luggage. The meter fare on arrival at the hotel was $18.25 and there was an additional charge of $1.50 for a toll which the driver paid enroute. He seemed satisfied with $30 to cover the fare, tip and baggage handling. We arrived at the hotel at about 11:30pm on Thurs. July 17. Although there was no guarantee, the hotel had no problem giving us connecting rooms and we were treated throughout our stay as if we'd paid the rack rate for this excellent hotel. Friday morning we were able to see the Majesty of the Seas before its departure on a three-nite Bahamas cruise. Since we had never visited Miami before, we planned to find some kind of tour for the full day we had on Friday. However, this hotel offered shuttle service to both Bayside Mall ($1/person each way) and South Beach ($3/person each way) so we decided to do our own in the morning and South Beach in the late afternoon and evening. The South Beach shuttle drops you off and picks you up very near the 5th and Ocean intersection which makes both the beach and restaurant-filled Ocean Blvd. easily accessible. Back at the hotel we made arrangements for another mini-van to take us to the port the following morning at 10:30. It was quite a sight to see Navigator of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Carnival Triumph from the hotel on Saturday morning! The trip from the hotel to the port would usually take about 10 minutes, but on July 19 the streets were jammed with people who were paying their respects to Celia Cruz. We got to Pier 5, where NOS was docked, shortly after 11:00. Which brings us to....

DAY 1 Sat. - Embarkation.

We handed off six bags and $12 to a porter and watched as they got loaded onto one of several large containers for transport to the ship. Then we began the process of clearing security. Given the number of people involved this was not as bad as I had expected. You even had the option of skipping the first "Welcome Aboard" photo op if you wanted (although it wouldn't have saved much time to do so.) The only delays seemed to involve people who either didn't have the required documents or had packed them in their checked luggage! (It will save you some potential hassles if you obtain a passport rather than relying on birth certificates.) We were able to complete the process, obtain our Seapass cards (which serve both as your onboard payment card and as your stateroom door key) and board the ship by about 12:30. We located our cabin and left our carryon bags there before proceeding to lunch in the Windjammer Cafe. (Our cabin was located on Deck 7, Aft, and was very convenient to the Windjammer and the dining rooms. Forward cabins would be more convenient to the entertainment venues.) After lunch we started to get familiar with the ship. Although NOS is the largest cruise ship afloat ('til next year) it's quite easy to find your way around. I did miss having the pocket-sized cards provided on our only previous cruise (Grandeur of the Seas, June 2002) which showed the ship's layout. However there were much larger versions of these cards located on every deck near the elevators. I'd suggest beginning on Deck 5, the Promenade Deck, which is the easiest way to get from one end of the ship to the other. After much oohing and ahhing (it really is a beautiful ship!) we proceeded to find our dining room and table (it's indicated on your Seapass Card. We had asked for Main (early) seating and a large table, but found we were at a table for six. Had no problem switching to a table for 10, but this would not have been the case at late seating...on this cruise there was MUCH more flexibility for early seating (unless you wanted a table for two...these were "officially" unavailable at either seating.) We continued to check out the various amenities until it was time to don our lifejackets and proceed to the mandatory muster drill at 4:30. When it was time for dinner (6:00) we found that switching tables was decidedly premature. We had already finished appetizers and were working on salads feeling very uncomfortable being the only three people at a table for 10! To make matters worse, my daughter (Danielle, 17) found that the table to which we had originally been assigned was occupied by a couple with a teenage daughter! Although we finished out the this dinner at the large table (two other couples who already knew each other eventually showed up), we made arrangements to return to our originally assigned table for future dinners. We really enjoyed the other couple for the rest of the cruise dinners, and the girls had a great time too. After dinner, the Welcome Aboard show took place in the Metropolis Theater. Cruise Director Jeff Martin introduced himself and there were a couple of production numbers from shows which would be seen later in the week. A juggler, Kristian Kristoff, did his routine and he was followed by comedian Craig Carmean...who was hilarious. The show was followed by a Bon Voyage parade at 11:00pm. in the Royal Promenade. The parade was very colorful and much more elaborate than I would have expected. After the parade my wife (Nancy) and I decided to call it a day (after just one more tasty treat at the Cafe Promenade!) and Danielle was meeting another girl she had met online prior to the cruise...they ended up "hanging out" together much of the rest of the cruise.

DAY TWO - Sun. - Nassau, Bahamas Our stay in the Bahamas would be a short one. We arrived at 7:00am and all had to be back onboard by 1:30pm. We preferred to have a leisurely breakfast in the Windjammer, so didn't leave the ship until about 9:30. We had no formal excursion planned for today and intended to visit the Atlantis resort on our own. (People who planned to shop in Nassau were mostly disappointed to learn that most stores and shops close on Sundays.) A good tip for anyone who plans a similar outing...when you are approached on the pier by taxi drivers, ask them if they are ready to leave "right now." Most have minivans and want to fill them up before departing, so if they hesitate to answer or say something like "very soon," just keep walking. When you find one who's ready to leave immediately, the fare to Paradise Island is $4.00, and there is a $1.00/vehicle bridge toll. I got no objections to my offer of $15 for the three of us in either direction....there is also a water taxi to Paradise Island, but I have no info on that. The Atlantis resort is very impressive and well worth seeing. You are able to see the hotel lobby and shops and, of course, the casino without fee. There is some impressive sculpture and a full wall of aquarium with many tropical fish. For a $25/person fee you get to see more of the aquarium, called "The Dig." We just wandered around the free areas; outside there would be security personnel a little ways down various pathways leading toward the pools and beaches turning back people who did not have either room keys or wristbands indicating they had paid a fee. Although we hadn't planned to do this, we eventually wandered down a path on which the guard must have not been paying attention, and we were able to stroll around most of the grounds and beaches without being challenged. They have some pretty impressive water slides which go underneath a glassed in area with sharks swimming overhead. There is another "lazy river" type slide in which you float in an innertube through a large plexiglass tube with sharks on all sides, above and below you....pretty cool. Nassau itself is pretty easy to navigate on foot, but there are also cabs and horse-drawn carriages available. Back on board, this was the Captain's Welcome reception and first formal nite of the cruise. LOT'S of picture taking going on tonite which would be posted in the Deck 3 Photo Gallery the next day. Pic's were $19.95 and $9.95 depending on size. There were also special "pacs" available at various prices. You could have as many pics taken as you were willing to stand in line for (various backgrounds). There were also pictures taken at dinner of you and your tablemates. The show tonite was "Now and Forever," with the RC Singers and Dancers performing selections from a number of fairly recent Broadway musicals....The Producers, Dreamgirls, Fosse, Contact, Mama Mia etc. Good voices and dancing. This was also the nite for Craig Carmean to perform in late nite Adult Comedy at 12:30am. This was also a very funny show, and no language as bad as most highschoolers have heard (and used) daily. This was also the first nite of competition in the Karaoke Idol search in the Ixtapa Lounge (Deck 5). This competition was limited to those 18 and up and winners were chosen on each of three nites in the categories of Male Vocal, Female Vocal and Duo. The three nitely winners faced off in the final on Friday nite. Sunday was also the first opportunity you had to reserve Ice Dancin' show tickets. These are free, but you must collect tickets for your group for one of the four performances (one each on Monday and Wednesday and two on Tuesday when there is no other show offering.)

DAY THREE - Mon. - Sea Day

We discovered that the phones provided a good means of keeping track of each other when everybody wanted to do something different. You could leave a voicemail message from your room for anyone who called. If noone answered the phone in your stateroom, the system automatically went to voicemail and the caller could leave a message. Not as good as the two-way radios some people were using to keep track of each other, but nothing extra to carry around either. Seadays can be as relaxing or as active as you like. There are too many fitness, sports, health and special interest activities to list; trust me, you'll not be bored! On the other hand, if you want to sit back and relax, there are many places to do that onboard. Pool deck chairs were hard to come by...despite the daily Compass reminders that saving the chairs wasn't allowed, a lot more seemed to be occupied by towels, books, magazines, etc. than by bodies at any given time. No problem getting chairs on Deck 4, which is also a weather deck, if you just wanted to enjoy the sea breeze with a book (or nod off). It was difficult to get an elevator very quickly on Seadays (or any day at mealtimes or when lots of folks were returning to the ship from excursions.) Climbing and descending the ladders (stairs to us landlubbers) was a good means of working off a tiny portion of the calories we were adding each day. The Shipshape Center (Deck 11) seemed to offer a number of machines to work body parts I'm not even familiar with. The theme for tonite was Country Western with Italian fare at odd combination! I didn't note anyone actually wearing Country Western attire. The showband played that kind of music late nite in the Ixtapa Lounge (another reason to retire early)! The Headliner at tonite's show was comedian Blair Shannon who put on a funny show and who has an excellent voice.

DAY FOUR - Tues - St. Thomas, VI

We had reservations for a ship's excursion for the Breathable Observation Bubble (BOB) for which we were supposed to meet on the pier at 8:30am. It came as a shock to learn that EVERYONE on the ship who intended to debark at either St. Thomas or San Juan would have to go through an immigration check which would take place for U.S. Citizens in the Swan Lake Dining Room (Deck 5). I understand some people got lined up for this as early as 6:00am...the immigration officials couldn't even board until we docked close to 7:00am. The line extending the length of the Promenade, looping around to twice the lenghth of the ship reminded me of the congestion in downtown Miami which made it so difficult for folks to get to the ship ontime (we actually delayed sailing for about a half-hour on Sunday to give 43 people on a shuttle stuck in traffic to get onboard the cruise.) Once the process started, it moved very quickly...they had a checkpoint at which those people who had gotten in line without their Seapass Cards or Passports were shunted aside so as not to hold up the line getting to the immigration officials. We got off the ship in plenty of time to meet the BOB excursion group. (TIP: if you want to do this excursion, make your reservations online at the RCCL website well in advance...there were quite a few people I taklked to who wanted to try this, but it was full up.) The BOB was a real blast...especially for people like me who are not good swimmers and have to limit their snorkeling to locations near the boat or from the beach. The BOB vehicle looks like a motor scooter with an oversize hairdryer attached. You go down about eight feet and follow a pre-defined course (there is one experienced diver for every two vehicles to keep you on course and make sure you are OK). You have to put your head underwater for a few seconds to get into or out of the vehicle...the rest of the time your head stays completely dry and you can really see very clearly. At one point you pass over a shipwreck and they put food out to attract more fish and take your picture (assuming you brought an underwater camera...I did...and were smart enough not to leave in onboard the boat...I wasn't). You move along at maybe two mph and stay down for about 20 minutes. Everyone I talked to wished it could have been longer, but noone felt cheated. (TIP: if you have some qualms about trying this, go ahead and reserve it (cost=$99)....if you should decide that getting into or out of the vehicle looks like it would be too difficult for you, they will downgrade you to "observer" and refund $40 to your Seapass account. Nancy did this and the refund showed up by the time we got back to our cabin that evening.) We had six separate groups each spending about 20mins underwater on the BOBs. When you were not in the vehicles you could snorkle from the boat or sit back and relax or sample the ample rum punch provided. We got back to the ship in time for lunch. Nancy and I went out again after lunch and hired a taxi to give us a tour of the scenic spots around Charlotte Amalie...of which there are many. The flamboyant trees were in full blossom and it was really gorgeous. Back onboard, this was Caribbean theme nite. Since I am not of fan of either jerk chicken or dancing waiters, I had made reservations at Chops. (This is one of two alternative restaurants onboard. Chops is primarly a steak house;Portofinos is primarily Italian. Dining at either costs an extra $20/person which includes gratuity.) This was by far the best meal we had onboard. (Frankly, I felt the food in the dining room on NOS was not as good as we'd had on fairness, it could be that I was blown away by my first cruise experience.) Unlike the dining rooms in which the waiter and his assistant had several tables to serve, in Chops there seemed to be one of four serving people nearby most of the time we were eating. Our reservations were at 6:30pm, so we got the extra treat of watching our ship steam out of the harbor while we were eating. Carnival Triumph had also been in port that day and she left shortly after we did. After dinner we took in the Ice Dancin' show, which was also excellent. By the end of the ice show I was exhausted, so I missed Caribbean Street Fair, the Love and Marriage Game Show, the Mardi Gras Parade and the Dancing under the Stars Deck Party. I saw part of the Game Show on TV the next day and it was pretty funny.

DAY FIVE - Weds. - San Juan, PR

Another early rising since we had scheduled the El Yunque Rainforest Tour. This is another excursion that's probably best to schedule through RCCL as you are only in San Juan from 7:00 until 2:00 and the tour takes close to five hours. Nancy and Danielle had wanted to take this tour, and I thought it would probably be tedious and boring but was pleasantly surprised. There were lots of people taking this tour, and, by the luck of the draw, we got an outstanding tour guide, Ed La Boy, and a large comfortable bus. It takes about an hour to get to El Yunque and Ed kept us informed not only about what we were seeing enroute, but also about the history and politics of the island. I was glad Ed was driving as we climbed the mountain...the road is quite an experience! I had been expecting a hot, wet and buggy hike at the highest point of the tour (which is a 20-30min walk along a mostly level trail). Instead, I found it pleasantly cool, no mosquitos at all, and it didn't even rain during the time we were there. This was not the rainy season, so I carted along throwaway ponchos and bug spray for nothing. There was a second stop in which you had the chance to climb up a ranger tower for a nice view and a third stop to view an 85-foot waterfall. You also get the inevitable stop at a souvenir shop. Tonite was the second formal nite and the dinner was the Surf and Turf...the Turf was a bit of a letdown after Chops! The show this evening was another Production Show called All Access. It featured pop music from the 70's to the present.

DAY 6 - Thurs. - Labadee, Haiti

This is the only stop on the itinerary where you need to tender ashore. The tenders ran continuously from about 9:30am to 4:30pm. People either loved this stop or hated it. If you're a "beach person," there's not much NOT to like about Labadee....great scenery, nice beaches and lots of water sports available. You'll need to reserve Waverunners early if you want to use them, and you can't go off on your own in them. They bring food from the ship to barbecue onshore at three different locations, so you're not too far from food no matter which beach you select. You will need to bring cash if you wish to shop the handicrafts. You will also want a lounge chair, and a tip is expected for this service. I enjoyed Labadee although I didn't stay ashore too long (not wishing to become what CD Martin called "Labadee Lobsters.") Although I usually have a hard time floating even in salt water I found it very easy here...perhaps indicating I now displace more water than I did prior to the cruise. Getting back onboard while most were still enjoying the beach also gave me a chance to eat at Johnny Rockets without waiting for the usual line. (Food is free at JR, but shakes cost $4.00). Tonite's entertainment included impressionist Fred Travalena and a Rock Thru the Ages Dance Party. A couple celebrating their anniversary also won the special "Win-A-Cruise-For-Two Bingo ($15/card).

DAY 7 - Fri. - Sea Day

For us the primary difference between this Seaday and DAY 3 was that we hustled around the ship to take advantage of many of the ship's features which we had omitted up 'til now. This meant Danielle had to scale the rockwall, and she and Nancy also went ice skating. I videotaped everything for posterity. The dining rooms seemed a little less full than usual...probably because this was tip nite. As much as these waiters, assistants and room stewards do to make cruising so enjoyable, I take a good deal of pleasure in making sure they get their tips personally. The Farewell Variety Show included a couple of repeat production numbers, another performance from Kristian Kristoff, and one new performer, comedian Michael Dean Ester. The emphasis in the shows on this voyage was certainly on comedy; surprisingly the material all seemed "fresh." Didn't hear any of the standard cruise jokes. Personally, I thought the "lessser known" comics were the most entertaining. We somehow managed to get dinner, see the show and the Karoke Idol finals (the winner sang the theme from "The Bodyguard," and I doubt Whitney Houston would have beat her! Terrific voice!) and still got our bags packed and set out by the midnite deadline. (TIP; You should probably be doing this daily, but if you haven't done it all so far be SURE to check the status of your Seapass account on your stateroom TV tonite. Our account was fine until the last day when a $20 minibar charge appeared even though we hadn't taken anything from the 'frig all week. A quick trip to Guest Relations {used to be called Purser's Desk} and the charge was removed with no hassle.)

DAY BLAH - Sat. - Debarkation

Prior to this trip we had not flown since the events of 9/11. Consequently, I had made midafternoon return flight arrangements, being unsure how early we'd be able to debark, how long it would take to collect baggage and how congested the airport would be. I had indicated on the departure form provided that we had a flight between 2:00 and 3:00pm and expected we'd be among the later "colors" called. However, it appears that anyone having to make any flight connections, however late in the day, are among the earliest colors called. In fact, we still hadn't gotten out of bed when we heard our color called between 7:00 and 7:30. Seeing no need to rush (everyone was supposed to vacate their stateroom by 8:00), we got to the Windjammer for breakfast, with our carryons, a few minutes after 8:00. The Windjammer, which can be hectic anytime, was a madhouse today, and it took quite awhile to find a place to sit, so we didn't leave the NOS until close to 9:00. We had only purchased a few souvenir items, so clearing customs was no problem, and we were able to find our bags (TIP: the colored cable ties are a big help in this respect) and get underway to the airport by 9:45. Unlike the previous Saturday (sigh) there was no congestion and we got to the airport shortly after 10:00. After we cleared security we found that we were actually too early to check in for our flight...had to wait about 10mins. in order to be within four hours of flight time. So, unless you enjoy hanging around airports, I'd suggest trying to schedule return flights either before noon or after 3:00pm (the latter if you'd like to do one of the post-cruise Miami excursions offered by RCCL. On our taxi ride from the port to the airport we managed to get all our luggage into a standard taxi. The driver asked us for a dollar for the toll, and the fare was $18.00.

FINAL NOTE (Egad, I thought this would NEVER end!)

We took all of our evening meals in the Dining Room (and Chops) and most of our breakfasts and lunches in the Windjammer. However, we managed to get one breakfast and one lunch in the Dining Room, and these were much more relaxed meals. Typically, the dining room will stop serving breakfast and lunch and hour or so sooner than the Windjammer, but if you're not rushed it's a much more pleasant experience. Only the larger tables are used for breakfast and lunch in the dining room, and it's open seating. Consequently, you get an opportunity to meet new people or to break bread with other people you've met by meeting outside and going in together. Despite the length of this report, I'm well aware of how many questions folks new to cruising can have. Bearing in mind that my experience is limited to these two RCCL cruises, please feel free to E-Mail me with any specific questions you may have, and I'll help if I can.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: May 31, 2003

Ug's Honeymoon Cruise :-)

(Warning: this probably will be Long ;-)

If your looking for something specific about Navigator just email me, more than happy to answer your questions.

This was my second Cruise with beautiful Wife Carol :-)), first cruise was on Victory couple years ago.

Comparison between Navigator and Carnival Victory:

Décor: Navigator seems to be one step up, a little classier

Rooms: About the Same, liked the interactive TV on Navigator and ability to check SeaPass card as week went on).

Entertainment: I prefered Victory, seemed one step up to me. But corparing entertainment is kinda like comparing Apples and Oranges, everyone has different tastes. Victory seems to be the better Aprty ship and went all night. Everyone on Navigator seemed to go to bed at 1am

Food: About the same, some things I liked better on Victory some better on Navigator (Apple and Oranges again ;-)

Service: Comparable again. Found our Waiters more friendly on Navigator, but I had messed up dining arrangements on Victory.

Embarking/Disembarking: RCCL does a better job of this, but I think because I knew what to do (Taxi) and what not to do (Bus)

Ports: Like the fact

we went to 4, but like the fact that Carnivals visits were longer. RCCL the stops were too short in San Juan and Nassau.

I'd Cruise on either one again in a second.

For starters, Carol and I weren't supposed to cruise on Navigator, we were supposed to go on Enchantment of the Seas. We got asked to switch because Enchantment was switching to 4- day cruises. Not a problem :-), since the only real reason we picked Enchantment was because it was $400 cheaper per person over the newer bigger RCCL ships.

We booked our own airfare and hotels this time. When I went on Carnival Victory, I didn't like the herding onto the busses that they did and the hotel was out by the Airport near nothing :-( It is so much better to book your own!! We took a chance on booking airfare, when we booked our cruise airfare from Halifax to Miami was close to $1000 each. So we waited for a seat sale, and got one, $670 each. Could have probably got better if we waited, but we didn't want to risk it.

Transportation from the Airport to the Hotel. I figured we'd just take a Taxi. Cost was about $22. from the airport to the hotel. After some research we booked at the Best Western Marina Park (now a Holiday Inn). It was your standard Holiday Inn Room, clean and everything. But the view was Magnificent!! We were on the Tenth floor and our room overlooked the Port of Miami! We were also right across the street from Bayside Marketplace. So after along day of Traveling Bayside was the right speed for us. We were up at 2:30 am EST to catch our 5am flight :-(. We walked around for a bit had dinner in the Food Court, then took the Harbour Tour (Millionaires row) cost $15. $12. if you get the coupon off the Internet. Then turned in for the night.

Day One: Embarkation, Miami

Next morning woke up with Excitement and ran to the window. Both Explorer and Navigator were in full view (Carnival Triumph as well), awesome sight!! We went for a walk, not really that hungry enough to justify Hotel price breakfast. Turned out there was a Macdonald's just around the corner from the ship, so we figured what the heck were going to be eating well all week on the ship. Macdonald's would be ok for breakfast ;-) Cost for both of us was around $5.

Then headed back to Hotel to Check out and head to ship. We left the Hotel around 10:30, cost in Cab to the Port was about $5. Some guy at the port asked us in the cab what ship, we told him, he then whisked us out of the cab, got the porters to take our luggage. They pointed out where to go (not one person asked or even looked for a tip). Within 5 minutes we we're at the check in counter with maybe 2-3 people ahead of us. (Note: Do not take Pictures in the Terminal, we missed the sign and the lady behind the counter warned us about it). We got checked in then went into the line to get on the ship. We waited aprx. 1 hour in this line as the ship hadn't disembarked everybody yet. We got on the ship around Noon. Cruise Director actually meet us as we got on the ship, didn't realize that it was him till later on in the week though ;-(

Headed straight to our Cabin, 9587, Inner Cabin. It was on the small side and not quite as roomy as the 1a (lowest category cabin that I had on Victory). Since we didn't have our luggage, it showed up somewhere between 7-8pm that night. We went for Lunch in the Windjammer. It was your usual standard buffet food, great selection but not real hot. Getting something to drink was a little different. They had a waiter filling up glasses then putting them on the counter, it made things a little slow if ya wanted something that he didn't have in glasses and they were in the middle of filling glasses with something you didn't want. No big deal however, you'd just have to ask for it and they were very quick to oblige :-)

After lunch we went to explore the ship. They don't have little pocket maps, but on every floor by the elevators they have these ship layouts (see my pictures). We found they were excellent for figuring out where you were. Now, a very IMPORTANT piece of info (from CM Kuki) always look for one of the floors that takes you from front to back when you're inside the ship. In Navigator's case (as well as Victory) the 5th floor is where you can go easily from front to back. On Navigators it's the Promenade. I found the ship in general to be like maybe one notch nicer than Victory (it was about the same age when I went on it).

They opened the Dining Room for a couple hours the first afternoon so you could check you seating arrangements. We wanted the late seating and a big table. Well, we got the late seating, but it was at a table for two :-( We then went to one of the Head Waiters, Joao, who took care of it right away. Lots of people were looking for tables of two. He put us at a Table of eight. This was the best thing we did the whole Cruise! Our Dinner mates were fantastic! Bill & Susan from Delaware, Mariana and Cheryl from Chicago, and Jeanne & Anthony from New York. Jeanne & Anthony we're honeymooning as well, they got married the day before us May 16/03. We got along great even ended up doing two full days a shore together. by coincidence they also had the Cabin next to us. So, on our Shore excursion days Anthony would bang on the wall to let us know they were ready ;-)) Who needs modern technology !!! ;-))

Day Two: Nassau, Bahamas

Now we had looked through the shore excursions and made a mutual decision, that if we could do it at home we wouldn't do it on the trip. So, where we only were in port from 10am-2pm (hey we're honeymooning no rush to get out of bed ;-)) We had no plans for Nassau. We ended up taking a Horse and buggy ride (45-50 minutes $10 each) with Mr. Fox. It was fun, he gave us a nice little tour of the downtown, stopped and picked a flower for Carol. Just as we finished the buggy ride the heavens opened up. So, we just went shopping and made our way back to the ship through the stores. They did have a shuttle bus to run you from the last shop to the pier.

We got back to the ship around 1pm had lunch then went Ice Skating. Hey, we're Canadian and just HAD to try it! Ice was actually pretty good. Would be the perfect size for a pickup hockey game. Got the chance to talk to a few of the Skaters in the show. These are very high caliber skaters! All have competed for National Championships in there respective Countries. Rest of day we just kinda lazed around.

Getting back to dinner, turns out our Assistant waiter, Mario, was new to the job, and this was only his second cruise. It was too funny when Cheryl was kind picking from the last of her meal, when Mario just reached in and grabbed her plate. Anthony, Carol and I just lost if with laughter, look on Cheryl's face was priceless!!! ;-)))))) Our waiter Jaafar was amusing as well, but he kinda turned us off by mentioning, a few times, that he was taking well care of us so that we would take care of him at the end of the week. We ended up taking better care of Mario at the end of the week. Mario even sang to our table one night in Spanish. He made little mistakes, but he was just a joy to have as our assistant waiter. The last morning of the trip he was making Toast in the Windjammer, so I went over for one last good bye and to wish him well. He was really glad to see me and told me that he will never forget us :-) We went to the show that night in the Metropolis, but left early cause Carol was falling asleep ;-(.

Day Three: Sea Day

Now, I'm not a big fan of sea days, which is the main reason why we picked RCCL over Carnival (Carnival only has 3 stops on 7 day cruise). Can't remember exactly what we did today. We did have Breakfast in the Dining room this am, we figured on Sea Days we would pamper ourselves with the wonderful service. The Shore Days we just wanted to get going so ate in the Windjammer.

I think this was the day we took the Couple Massage Class. It was very good, think the cost was like $50. But you learnt how to give your partner a proper back Massage. Even gave you a bottle of Oil to take home. We went to Johnny Rockets for lunch, it was great but we ate too much. For starters they put a plate of Fries and Onion rings in front of you before you even order anything. I did play Volleyball late in the afternoon. Court is excellent, but it's kinda different to try and jump up and hit the ball when your on a moving ship and it's windy, made it very interesting at times ;-))

Now before Dinner this Night, they had Big Band Dancing in the Ixtapa Lounge. Since Carol and I had taken Beginner Ballroom Dance lessons, we figured we'd go. It was a little intimidating at first cause we couldn't figure out the Dances, till they played a Cha Cha. Then we kinda gave each other a look to see if they wanted to go, but nobody else was going up so we stayed put. Till one other couple went up, Father & Daughter, and they messed it up, so we figured what the hell we'd go up know, pressure was off . We did an OK job of it and got a nice round of applause from everyone. We had a few more dances after that, my Waltzing is getting quite good if I do say so myself ;-)

Day Four: St.Thomas USVI

Well the night before at dinner, Jeanne and Anthony were undecided on what to do in St. Thomas. We told them we had rented a Jeep ($84. after taxes) and were welcome to come along with us. What a blast we had!!!! You pick up the jeep from Budget about a 5 minute walk from the ship. Our plan was to head to Megans Bay for snorkeling. I drove first, and it was little strange driving, because they drive on the left hand side of the rode (like England), but your in a North American vehicle, so I'm on the inside. They got a little anxious when I made a right hand turn and you go from outside lane to outside lane. We drove for 40 minutes looking for Megans Bay, Carol was navigating ;-). When we finally figured out where we were we had this great big Cruise Ship in front of us (yes the Navigator ;-(!!! We had gone in a complete circle. We then got some directions and got to Megans Bay in about 10 minutes ;-)), we had a good laugh over that!! Megans Bay is a gorgeous beach, $3. Per. person to get in. Snorkeling was great, we snorkeled for about 90 minutes, seen hundreds of fish, at one point I dove in and was right in the middle of this school of fish! We then rented Kayaks for an hour ($20 hour). Paddled up to this secluded beach, had a good laugh when Jeanne and Anthony's Kayak drifted out ;-), then made our way back to the beach went for a swim, then headed back to the ship for lunch. After lunch we went back into port and went shopping, Carol picked up this Saworski Crystal Butterfly at a fairly decent price. We could have gotten it back home for about the same price, but this is more of a momento :-) Jeanne and Anthony headed up the tramway on the way back, we went looking for a Gas station.

The whole day for the four of us cost around $140. $35 each.. That's way better than what the ship excursions cost, and we had a blast!!!!!

Now, I think we went to the Ice Show this night, and the Ice Show was the BEST show of the week!! They skate as if they are on an Olympic size rink. Even throw in Triple Jumps!! It's a must see!!!

We did go to the Love and Marriage Game Show this night which was a good laugh, but some of the contestants aren't the brightest people in the world ;-( We were exhausted after this so we turned in for the night, catching a little bit of the Mardi Gras Parade down the Promenade as we headed back to our Cabin.

Day 5: San Juan. Puerto Rico

Now, we were still both exhausted from the day before so just took our time and just started walking passing up the many offers of City tours as we got out of the Terminal. Now after walking for about 15-20 minutes and not really knowing where we were going, and it was really hot. We decided that those City tours sounded pretty good .. So back to the terminal we went. Cost was $12. Each, and you get about a 2 hour tour of Old and New San Juan. This was the perfect thing for us, got to see a lot of the City and didn't have to spend a lot of energy while doing so . We stopped at a few place along the way, last stop was the Fort San Miguel. Only had 30 minutes there, so we didn't tour the Fort. As we walked back to the Ship. they dropped us downtown in Old San Juan, we found an outdoor market where Carol picked up some souvenirs that were actually made in San Juan. Nearly all the souvenirs you see are made in China or Taiwan  After we got back to the ship we headed up to the Adult area of the Ship, not planning much for the afternoon. We got settled in Chairs (by the Pool even), Carol wants a drink, I decide to go in the Hot Tub. We are leaving Port at this time. The view of Fort San Miguel as you leave Port is Magnificent!!! As I'm soaking in the Hot Tub checking out the scenery, I couldn't believe I had left all the Cameras in the room!!!!

After Dinner this evening we went to the Production Show "Now and Forever" in the Metropolis. We both were falling asleep though it , so we headed back to the cabin after about 30 minutes of the show.

Day Six: Labadee, Haiti

Well, after going over the itenary 100's of times before we left I figured this stop would be the most boring. Was I WRONG! This stop turned out to be a BLAST! We spent the whole day with Jeanne and Anthony (started the day with the pounding on the walls ;-). We had breakfast together in the Windjammer, tehn headed for the Tenders to take us to the Beach. Well, this place is heaven! It kinda had that Gilligans Island feel to me ;-). We went to the Snorkeling Beach first and snorkled the better part of the morning. They hav a couple planes usnk in the Lagoon, We thought we had made this big discovery (Drug Deal or something ,-) but realized, they were put there for us to discover ;-( We then went over to the Waterpark and met up with Marina and Cherly, and we all played on the Water Trampolines, See Saws. Couple of us even managed to climb up these floating Iceburgs. I of course had to go up the biggest one, completelt exhausting myself on the way up, then realizing once I got up that this was fricking high! I couldn't climb down and risk soemone questioning my Manhood ;-) so I slid off, Forgetting of course to hold my nose;-( We then went for Lunch, the Ship has a big BBQ setup in a couple of places for us. After lunch we went Snorkeling again, the 6 of us. After a couple hours we decided to head back to the ship, we needed a Nap! Not use to playing like a Kid anymore.

I think we went to the Headliner show before Dinner this evening, It was El Gaucho, he did a Comedy routine but included a neat trick with the Rope/rock/thingy ;-) form South America. Very enjoyable show.

After Dinner we went to the Sock Hop in the Ice Dancing Studio, they cover the ice for this. It was fun, but was way too short. Which was probably a good thing cause were were exhausted from this Day.

Day Seven: Sea Day

Well, we didn't do a whole lot this Day. We did have Breakfast in the Dining Room. But the rest of the Day we just kinda lazed around. We did end up looking like Lobsters today, the one day we forgot suntan lotion in the cabin. Won't ever do that again. Glad I had saved the lightest shirt for the last night Dinner.

We went to the farewell Show in the Metropolis before Dinner, to the Farewell show. It was Good, but can't remember much of it :-( Couldn't of been that good then ;-)

Now, this was tip night. You do have the option of putting it right on your SeaPass Card, but we wanted to give it to the Staff that took care us personally. Room attendant we gave her the recommended amount, she did a good job, never really met her other than saying Hi in the Hallway. HeadWaiter, no recommended amount, but since he put us at such a great table we gave him something. Oh, almost forgot, Jeanne told him the first night that every night at the table we were celebrating either a birthday or a wedding anniversary, so we got a cake brought to us every night. The one Formal night Jeanne and Anthony didn't show for Dinner, we went right to there Cabin afterwards and dragged them out of bed to help eat this Cake! It was Jeanne's idea after all ;-) Now, our Waiter Jaafar, we tipped him less than recommended, cause his tipping hints were starting to piss us off. He even rambled one night about how everyone was equal, and how the cruise line didn't pay him, blah blah blah. He also miss treated Mario (our assistant waiter) a few too many time for our liking as well, so much for being equal :-( Yes Mario was new, but Jaafar didn't need to treat him the way he did. Now, Mario (or shall I say SUPER MARIO!), he was just so much fun and was trying so hard, and not once all week did he mention Tip, so we gave him more than recommended more than we gave Jaafar even .

After Dinner, Jeanne & Anthony, Cheryl & Marina, went down to the Ixtapa looking to Dance. We Danced about 3 songs and the Band turned in for the night, it was 12am. The ship was like a Ghost town at this time. We then all headed for the Internet Lounge to look at Carol and My Wedding pictures. The 6 of us got along really well, and it seemed like nobody wanted to say goodbye and turn in for the night. Around 1:30am we all said our goodbyes, Jeanne and Anthony we were going to have breakfast with in the morning, one last banging on the walls ;-))

Day 8: Disembark, Miami

Well we met Jeanne and Anthony for Breakfast, they had white tags so they would be the first off. We had turquiose, so we had no idea when we would get off. Had Breakfast one last time in the Windjammer, seen Mario one last time, he was still smiling. Then said our Goodbyes to Jeanne and Anthony, well I almost fricking Cryed ;-( We became such good friends this week. So as they headed to the gangway we headed to the Metropolis (they tell you to wait in one of the lounges till your colour is called). This was the one thing I had forgotten from my past cruise, that didn't pick up on this time. This wait is incredibly long!!!!!!!!!! We couldn't just sit, so we'd walk up and down the promenade, then go to one lounge, then go up the Promenade and sit in another lounge. It was 11:30 am before our colour was called. Since we weren;t in any real hurry, it didn't really bother us that much. We had booked a Post Cruise Night on South Beach before we flew home.

After getting off the ship and collecting our bags. (They have airport type carousels to collect your luggage, way better than Carnivals find your bag in a warehouse method). In no time we were in a Cab and headed to South Beach. We asked the Driver about getting to the Airport the next day, he said he would be there at whatever time we needed. (Sure enough he showed up! $24. In a Cab to the Airport from South Beach) Now the Hotel we stayed at was not your typical Holiday Inn/ Best Western. It was called the Penguin Hotel, and is right in the Heart of the Art Deco District and right on Ocean Drive. This is Good, the bad is they rent rooms by the Hour there and the Hotel was built in the 30's and has seen many changes in management. I found it ok, but it gave Carol the creeps. We went for a walk down Ocean Drive after checking in. It was ok for the first 5 minutes, but it was just way too hot and humid. We found a corner store to get some drinks. Then we made our way from (air conditioned) store to store back to the hotel. We both had showers to cool down, then went for Dinner. Hotel actually had a nice little restaurant right in front. So, you got to catch the sights as you ate. After Dinner we walked to Lincoln Mall (about a 10 minute walk). Only thins we bought howvere were souvenirs for our new Puppy, Kramer, who we would be adopting the day afeter we got home from the Honeymoon .

We then made our way back to the Hotel, went for a nice walk right on the beach then turned in for the night.

Day 9:

Got up Checked out, Cab showed up even a little ahead of schedule. We were more than ready to leave this Hotel. You know the feeling, your vacation is over and you just want to be home ASAP. We left the Hotel around 9:30am. Had a bit of a wait at the Airport checking in, oddest moment fo the whole week though, when we went to go through security, they were suggesting you take off your shoes. We were too tired and didn't care so off came the shoes . Waited a couple hours, flight left on time, flying to Montreal. Now on the way down we went through Toronto, which I like and I'm use too. Going through Montreal was awful, signage was terrible, but thankfully we had lots of time and eventually found our gate.

Got back into Halifax around 9:30pm.

Note: It is now almost 5 months since the Cruise (and the Wedding). We have kept in touch with Jeanne and Anthony, and are planning to visit them in New York this Spring . Carol's also chatted with Cheryl through email a few times. As for Married life, it's THE BEST!!!!!!!! Kramer our Puppy is doing well also.

Happy Cruising Ug

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: July 31, 2004

Based on our experience, we do not recommend Royal Caribbean as a family vacation. We completed a cruise from Saturday, July 31 to Saturday, August 7 on the Navigator of the Seas.

The first three nights we suffered distress due to loud and profane neighbors. We heard: Saturday night: repeated cursing about a storm at sea; Sunday night: cursing and an argument followed by obscene noises; Monday night: obscene noises, louder and more vulgar than the previous night. Normally we do not complain, but deciding the activity would not cease and concerned about the impression on our daughter, who had fortunately slept through most of the noise, we asked Guest Relations early Tuesday morning for a different room. Their response was inadequate and misleading. They said no rooms were available, not even a downgrade. We again requested a different room that afternoon and were told the ship was completely booked, and any room change was impossible.

A frequent cruiser intervened Tuesday evening on our behalf. With this help, a room suddenly became available. We are distressed that as average cruisers no help was available. Guest Relations had not been honest and was indifferent

to our child's welfare. My wife was actually in tears when we initially requested a new room. Without the intervention of a higher-status, frequent cruiser, we would have remained in an environment potentially emotionally unhealthy to our daughter. I urge all parents to think twice before considering a cruise with your children on Royal Caribbean.
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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: December 13, 2003

Voyage # 54 Labadee, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel Nautical miles sailed: 2,040 Ships Captain: Leif Otto Bang Cruise Director: Jeff Martin

See my pictures at:

We are a couple just turning 40, traveling with 19 family members and friends. This was our 3rd cruise, (second with RCI) and our children's 1st. (ages 21 & 18) We booked 13 months in advance through an Internet travel agent, and had great prices. The price of the cruise never dropped below our booking price. I booked our airfare direct with the airline, and bought travel insurance through CSA.

HOTEL We flew in 2 days prior, and stayed at Holiday Inn, South Beach. This is a decent hotel, with great prices and a nice beach/pool area. There are 2 restaurants in the hotel; one is OUTBACK, which was good. There is a SUBWAY right across the street. This is a nice area within walking distance of Lincoln Road Mall, which is full of outdoor cafes. (most are Italian) The boardwalk is right outside the hotel, and runs North. It doesn't connect to the South Boardwalk. You can catch the Electro wave shuttle outside the Jackie Gleason Theatre,

and ride around SoBe for 25 cents per ride. Driving and parking in SoBe is a nightmare. I suggest renting a bike over at Lincoln. You can even rent a Segway Human Transporter! There are many other choices for public transportation as well. You can also rent Yamaha Waverunners on the beach at $65 per half hour.

TIP # 1: Everyone in Miami wants your money. Everyone in Miami wants a tip. Even the "Sandwich Artist" at SUBWAY has a tip jar! The cabbies, the porters, the concierge, the guy in the bathroom, the bartenders, waitresses, bellhops.etc. Bring lots of small bills with you!

EMBARKATION We arranged 2 SUPER SHUTTLE'S to take us to the Port of Miami at 10am. They arrived on time, and the charge was $55 for each shuttle. (+ tip) They transported all 19 of us, and luggage with no problem. Upon arrival at the Port, the porters were fighting over us immediately. Our porter was very nice, and wanted $60 to toss our luggage in the bin, and get it to the ship safely. (that was just one shuttle with 9 people!) He was very helpful, and was tipped $40 from our shuttle, and more for the other shuttle. Not sure of his final take, but he got more than $2 per bag from us. One suitcase was damaged upon arrival as well. Not sure who did it. I don't like the porter situation in Miami. We entered the Port and waited in line to pass security. Have all your documentation & ID ready. They would not allow boarding until 11am. Check-in and security went fast and smooth. We boarded within minutes of checking in.

TIP # 2: If you are in a group, and your children are switching to other rooms, you must see the Pier Coordinator near check-in to have the rooms switched before boarding the ship. They will update which room # each person will actually be occupying. This is done after you set up the Sea Pass accounts. (they will print new cards)

BOARDING: You have to see it to believe it! OVERWHELMING is all I can say. Seeing Navigator and Explorer end to end is a real spectacle. WOW! This ship is gorgeous! Off to the Windjammer for a quick lunch. They buffet was great!

TIP # 3: Get onboard early, and tour the ship. You can get photos of the public spaces with no other people in them. You can take Spa tours and make appointments for things as well. Bring tip money for the porters, but don't pay what they ask! ($1-2 per bag) THE SHIP: The layout is nice, the décor is beautiful, and the public areas are plentiful. We always take a self-tour of the ship after our boarding lunch. There were many places I never made it back to during the week! You will find your way around pretty easily by day 2 or 3. This ship is in top-notch condition.and still looks brand new. There is a pool open 24 hrs a day. They are all salt-water pools. Hot tubs are fresh water. There is a mineral spa in the SPA / Gym. It is very hot and has different massage vents. You can use it free of charge. Also free, are most activities such as Rock Wall, In Line skating, ice-skating, and mini golf.

I thought a ship this large would be more stable than smaller isn't. I didn't see too many sick people, but the ship definitely moves around a lot. My wife took Bonine and had no problems. You will feel the movement though. Come prepared.

TIP # 4: The elevators are a busy place. Many times, when an elevator finally comes to get's already full! Learn to take the stairs more! You will get there quicker anyway. The glass elevators are much more scenic to ride. The view of the Royal Promenade is spectacular!

THE CABIN: We had aft cabin #7688. It faces the ships wake, and has the largest balcony. This cabin is GREAT! The balcony is it's best feature. It does take on a little soot from the stacks. Don't walk out there in your socks...they will be black! I found myself wiping the chairs off each morning. It has 2 lounge chairs, 2 chairs and a table. We ate many room service breakfasts here. Much easier than fighting the crowds at the Windjammer on port days. Nothing like a nice hot breakfast on the balcony as we pull into port each day! I laid on a lounge chair to watch the meteor shower and fell asleep under the stars listening to the sounds of the sea. The structure on the back of the ship doesn't obstruct the view much. The balcony is in shade most of the day. If you are looking for sun, it's better on the top decks. It is less windy back there, but there were mornings that were still too windy to eat out there.

I like the re-design of the shower stall. No more curtains, like on Vision Class ships. The room was large enough for 3 persons, and had a drop down bunk if needed. There is a sofa, safe, dressing table, coffee table, big closet, hair dryer, and plenty of storage space. The RCTV is wonderful. You can book excursions, check your Sea Pass account, order room service, movies, and many other things right on the TV.

TIP #5: If you don't like to won't like this cabin. It is a long way from stairs and elevators to the rear of the ship. (120 steps to be exact) I didn't mind it, but some might. Also, be careful walking down the halls. Cabin attendants and passengers put carts, trays, vacuums, and stuff all over the halls. I found myself navigating around, and tripping over stuff everyday.

TIP #6: There is a charge of $7.95 per minute for using your phone to call shore. Some teens in our party thought they could use a Phone Card, and did. They rang up hundreds of dollars in phone bills calling their boyfriends back home. They thought it would not apply if using a card. It did. Learned the hard way at the parents' expense. Educate your children before boarding.

STAFF: The staff was always friendly. I really liked our cabin steward, Renato, and some of our servers. Great dining room & bar staff. I had one problem with security holding onto one of my suitcases. It made me late for dinner on the first night. Security held it because they saw something suspicious inside. They called me to the GUEST RELATIONS and made me show them what I had. There were 2 little knives in the outside pocket of my checked bag. I needed them to cut the zip ties on the zippers. They needed to see them, and then they let me take them to my room. It was a real joke. The knives in the dining room are bigger! Each of my knife blades was less than 2 inches! I was also stopped by security coming back from snorkeling in Grand Cayman. I had a dive knife in my snorkeling gear. I forgot it was even there, but they picked it up on the x-ray. When showed them it, they let me back onboard with it. (which is weird, because it was much bigger than the knives they saw in my other checked bags being loaded on the ship)

TIP # 7: The GUEST RELATIONS desk (also known as the PURSER) is less busy in the middle of the night. Most of the day and evening, there is a line. Sometimes, a really BIG line. Get your business done early in the cruise. Late in the will wait forever! Use the casino as your personal bank to get money or break down bills. The line is shorter.

DINING & FOOD: We were in the very rear (near Port windows) of the SWAN LAKE DINING ROOM. (Top tier) I would have preferred the bottom level, but it wasn't a big deal. The Waiters still sing and dance on each tier. The windows were nice, but you can't see anything outside because at Second Seating it's already dark in DEC. Our waiter was Omar, and he was good, not great. Seemed quiet and shy. I didn't like our table assignments. We had a party of 19 at two tables. My children were split up at two different tables, which didn't please me, and we moved around a bit. The waiters were a little confused, but it worked out. I thought the food was FANTASTIC, and usually stayed with what was recommended by the staff. We had the best Head Waiter ever. She really took care of us.

TIP #8: I thought with the coming of Seattle's Best Coffee, that it would be better than before. It's not. Personally, I couldn't stand the coffee. Way too strong and bitter. Being a diehard coffee drinker.I made due with it, but you may want to think about an alternative way to make coffee.

ENTERTAINMENT: ~Royal Caribbean Singers & Dancers -Now & Forever -All Access ~Ice Dancers -Ice Dancin' ~The Original Drifters (Celebrity Entertainers) ~Miguel Washington (Comedy) ~John Joseph (Comedy) ~Duo Iouvilov ~James Stephens III (Comedy) The Broadway type shows are interesting, but not my favorite. The Drifters were great! Lot's of oldies, and the young singer is EXCELLENT! The Duo is really good, and the comedy of John Joseph is OUTSTANDING! I did not see the others. Ice Dancin'.just like everyone says.DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW! It is incredible what they can do on the small ice! This is by far.the best show on the ship. There are also singers, and musicians in the pubs and lounges each night. I enjoyed the guy in the Two Poets Club on the Royal Promenade. (He would play Jimmy Buffett for me) Another nice thing to see are the parades down there. They do a lot in the space given, and it is quite spectacular.

TIP # 9: Get tickets to ICE DANCIN' early for the seating you want. All of the shows SELL OUT. (even though tickets are free)

CRUISE CRITIC MEET & GREET: I met several of our group at the Pool Bar the night before. I spotted someone with a CC lanyard around her neck, and she knew someone who knew someone.and it went from there. We met for the party in the Cosmopolitan Club, and the Social Host was Mikiko. There was cookies and coffee, or you could use the cash bar. A free drawing was held and the prize was a computer mouse. Capt. Bang also came down to speak. He answered questions and even posed for pictures. He is the nicest guy. It was a really great group of people.

PORTS: MIAMI Pre-cruise- See above (hotel) Post-cruise- RCI Everglades tour. The bus picked us up right outside the ship. Our bus had a flat tire that they fixed in about 30 minutes, and we were on our way. We got on the airboat, and the weather was cold for Florida, so gators weren't too active. We did see a few. I liked the airboat trip, but it could have been longer. We were at the airport well before 2:00pm.

TIP # 10: If you have a lot of time to kill before your flight, there is a nice little 'park like' seating area outside, across from the main entrance. There are benches to sit on, and catch some sun, or read. Inside the terminal it's pretty hectic, and hard to find seating.

LABADEE A really nice place to spend the day. This is a tender port, but the tenders are huge. The line really does move quickly. We did the Waverunner tour here, and it was great! The water was pretty rough, so it was hard to go wide open. Lots of fun. The rest of the day was spent eating the BBQ, and swimming at Hideaway Beach. The Haitian Market here is IN YOUR FACE shopping at it's finest. There is loads of nice stuff to buy, but they will try everything to get you to buy something. Use your bargaining skills, and don't be afraid. They are nice people, but they REALLY want you to buy. If you like hand carved things.this is the place to buy.

TIP # 11: There is a little tram to take you around the peninsula, but it never seems to come by. You may end up walking everywhere, but the walk is not really as long as it looks. Bring lots of sun block.this place is HOT, HOT, HOT! You can use your soda sticker here too.

OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA: We booked a tour with Peat Taylor, but he was not our guide. I never saw him. Great tour...but we did not beat the crowds as promised. We waited for 20 minutes in a building outside the ship while they got the bus. Then waited in the bus for 45 minutes in the parking lot for 2 people that didn't show up. I think they went fishing for others to take their place...and found some. I felt a little deceived, and we did not beat the huge crowds of people. We also had to wait over 20 minutes in a downpour for the bus to pick us up at the falls when finished. The falls are very fun to climb. The rest of the tour was very nice. The fern gully was a nice drive, and we asked to go see the Fire Dept, as there were 3 U.S. Firefighters on the tour. (me included) His other tour bus made the falls before the crowds, and they were very happy with the tour. I was still very satisfied with the experience, although disappointed at what had happened. He dropped us off at Island Village for shopping, and MARGARITAVILLE! What a great place. Beach, bar, restaurant, water slide, pool, hot tub, dancing, gift shop, and a great party atmosphere. A perfect end to the day, at the swim-up bar!

TIP # 12: If you are paranoid about Jamaica, go to ISLAND VILLAGE. It is a gated area of shopping, where the sales are NOT AGGRESSIVE. You shop in stores like in the US. You may not get to bargain, but it is not IN YOUR FACE shopping. There are a couple stands in the center where you can bargain with the locals. You can get JABLUM BLUE MOUNTAIN COFFEE here for about $13 US per LB.

GRAND CAYMAN: Nativeway Watersports is a great tour company that takes you to STINGRAY CITY and CORAL GARDENS to snorkel. Excellent tour and crew. The interaction with the Stingrays is priceless. Coral Gardens is really beautiful. Very nice coral and fish everywhere. I took a different tour of STINGRAY CITY in 1999, but Nativeway was much better. I even bought the video they filmed for us! Everyone on this trip really thought Nativeway was GREAT! They took us to 7 Mile Beach, and dropped us off at Royal Palms Hotel. This is a nice section of beach, with café and bar, Waverunner rentals ($65 per half hour), or you can have your hair braided. Admission is $3 per head, and taxi fare to tender dock is $3 per person.

COZUMEL: We took a taxi to CHANKANAAB NATURE PARK. We got big van-taxis for our large group, and they charged us $13 US for the ride, which included the ($10) admission fee. The park is very nice, with an excellent beach. (look for iguanas all over the place) The restaurant food was great, and drinks are plentiful. (try the one in the pineapple!) The wind was VERY strong that day, and snorkeling wasn't allowed until the seas calmed down. Lots to see out there. They even put some statues and such out there to find. We taxied downtown for shopping, and then hit CARLOS & CHARLIES for some refreshments. This is a fun but WILD place! Kids are allowed in, but the behavior is a little wild and risqué, so be prepared. We had a great time, and taxied back to the shopping area near the ship. We hit ½ SENOR FROGS there. Another fun place. Be prepared to drink some shots! (like it or not!) Needless to say, we were feeling no pain when we got back on the Navigator for sail away!

TIP # 13: At C & C, (and FROGS) they will come around and blow a whistle behind you. Then they tilt your head back and pour a shot of (Sex on the Beach) down your throat, shake your head, and grab you where you don't expect it. It's pretty funny, so bring a camera! (and your wallet. Shots are $3 each!)

SEA DAYS: This is a great time to sun or go to the SPA. Relax away the hectic pace of the island stops, and listen to the Steel Drum band on deck. Yes.people still hog deck chairs, and block your view. Don't get discouraged.there's always somewhere to sit to enjoy.

TIP # 14: Go to the CORONA DECK PARTY! It's a lot of fun, drinking and dancing under the stars. There is also a big buffet on deck, CORONA beer, and drink specials. Let loose and DANCE!

DISEMBARKATION: Very smooth and easy. I love the baggage carousel! I really hated the old method, wading through a sea of suitcases. It helps to mark your cases distinctly.

TIP # 15: Regardless of what RCI tells you, there is currently an American Airlines bag check in at the pier. Each person over age 18 must fill out there own CUSTOMS FORM. Do it in the line, and they get mad! Have ALL forms, and ID ready!

HIGHLIGHTS: Sunsets Sky watching Sound of the sea from the balcony Steel Drum music on deck Walking around the ship the first time in awe Standing on the bow of the ship Sail away parties & the CORONA deck party!

LOWLIGHTS: The coffee Getting off the ship after a week!

CONCLUSION: I think the VOYAGER CLASS ships are great. They have something for everyone. There are a lot of people aboard, but it only feels crowded during meals, or getting off/on the ship. (same as any other ship) There is so much you can do; a week is not enough time. Don't try to do it all, just enjoy what you are doing! No Problem Mon!

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: December 13, 2003

The Navigator currently sails seven night voyages out of the Port of the Miami, alternating between Eastern and Western Caribbean routes. I embarked on our Western Caribbean voyage on Saturday, December 13, 2003. We experienced two days at sea and called upon Labadee, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. My husband and I were part of a 38 person competative volleyball group.


Our group arrived the evening before the cruise and spent the night at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Miami. This was an unremarkable hotel night stay; suffice it to say, the hotel was clean and convenient. The next day we arrived at the port around 10:30am. To our surprise, there already were LONG lines outside waiting to go into the terminal; not at all what I was expecting to see. Thinking we would be early, I learned that the check-in counters were already seeing passengers at 10am! By the time we were allowed inside the terminal (after waiting in line outside for 30 minutes), check-in took all of 5 minutes and we were all on the ship by 11:15am.

Once on board, we dumped our carry-on's in our room and began

to explore the ship; our staterooms were not quite ready. After 15 months of anticipation, everyone in our group couldn't believe we were finally aboard the Navigator!

First Impressions

What can I say...we were all very impressed with the Navigator the moment we set foot in her lobby. Even after one year, it still had that brand new shiny look to it! We were awestruck by it's size and it's beauty; none of us have ever seen a ship quite like the Navigator.

After having lunch in the Windjammer, we walked around the ship before heading back to our stateroom. Ours was ready at 1pm.

Our Cabin 8692

As our group booked this cruise 15 months ago, we knew early on that some of us wanted aft balconies. There were four couples (us among them) in our group lucky enough to get one on deck eight. Each cabin was a standard DA category cabin, identical for the most part to those on either side of the ship. But the balconies were twice the size of normal DA's, able to accommodate two lounge chairs, two regular chairs and a table with room to spare.

On deck eight, there were two types of DA balconies; ones with sliding glass doors (the ones in the middle - cabins 8692 and 8392) and ones with regular doors that had a window (the ones on the corner - cabins 8690 and 8390). Both rooms are very comfortable and configured the same. However, I prefer the large windows over the door. I imagine so do most people, as these rooms book up early I'm told.

Our stateroom had a very comfortable queen sized bed (basically two twins put together) and a small sitting area complete with a loveseat and coffee table. There was a standard sized closet with several racks, lots of hangers and plently of space to house your clothes for the week. There was a vanity in the bedroom and a medicine cabinet in the bathroom, so storage space was never an issue. There also were six small drawers in the vanity dresser. I would recommend you unpack your belongings, as suitcases take up lots of room which in a stateroom is at a minimum already. You can store your bags under the bed easily enough, and either fold or hang up your clothes.

As we were cruising with our friends, we had four parties in our stateroom - at one time we had close to 25 people in attendance both inside and on the balcony. We pretty much had the entire aft section of deck 8 to ourselves.

Each room came equipped with a hair dryer, shampoo and two bars of soap. The bathroom was small, but very well designed, complete with a sliding shower door, not often seen on cruise ships.

The Food

My overall impression of the food was right on with other comments made by past passengers in their reviews. Some items (like the fillet mignon, the souffle and the crem brule) were excellent, while others (like the ranch steak) were just plain bad. The service was adequate, but nothing to write home about. I have been on cruises where the wait staff bend over backwards to please you; not so here. Our waiter was competent, however, not too friendly. Our assistant waiter (who seemed to do most of the work) was a little better, but neither impressed us enough to tip beyond the recommended minimum. The head waiter, on the other hand, was very accommodating; we were never charged a corking fee on the three bottles of wine we brought from home, and my request for nightly shrimp cocktails and two fillet mignon orders were filled without complaint. My waiter, on the other hand, tried to discourage me from ordering an extra lobster.

Most in our group felt the same way - the menu items were hit or miss. But none of us went away hungry. If you cruise frequently, like we do, you too will notice that the food quality has declined - everywhere. You get what you pay for.

The Sushi at Jade's was good (mostly California Rolls and the like), and many of the items at the Windjammer Buffet were good as well. There was a lot of variety and I always found things I liked for both breakfast and lunch. We didn't have time to go to Chops or Portofinos this cruise, but have been to Portofinos on other ships. I have always had a problem with the $25 cover charge, however, the service and food quality is somewhat better than what you experience in the formal dining room.

Shows & Entertainment

We only went to a couple of variety shows and the ice show; we missed all the production shows. The Drifer's performed one evening, which I enjoyed, but by far, the best show of the cruise was the ice show. Considering how small the ice arena is, the performances were outstanding.

There were a host of nightly activities, including a piano bar in the Schooner Lounge that we enjoyed, a disco and other musical venues throughout the ship too numerous to list here. There was also karaoke, gameshows, bingo, the casino and dancing just about every night. There was so much to do, at times it got to be a little overwhelming.

Ports of Call

Our cruise called on Labadee, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Our group spent the day in Labadee playing volleyball. I checked out the snorkeling, and was disgusted that I had to pay $6 to go in the water (with an inflatable vest) in order to snorkel. I did so, but the day we were there, the visibility wasn't great. There might be a better location to snorkel, however the two I tried were quite poor.

In Ocho Rios, most of our group headed up to the falls. My husband and I took the liberty to sleep in and I went to the spa on the ship; we went to Margaritaville around noon. It rained on and off much of the morning, however, most of the rain stopped by the afternoon. I thought Margaritaville was somewhat overrated. We had fun on the beach (which no one else used) playing volleyball and the kids seemed to really enjoyed the water slide. On the way back to the ship, I walked around Island Village and did some shopping. This worked out well for us, as I'm not a big fan of Jamaica, and Island Village (where Margaritaville was located) insulates you somewhat.

In Gand Cayman, we went scuba diving. Also a little rainy, we did two dives from shore at SeaView (a total of four tanks between us) for $26US. The visibilty (considering the rain) was excellent - about 80 feet. Most of the group went to Stingray City and raved about their experience.

In Cozumel, our plans were to go scuba diving again, but due to high winds, the harbor master closed off the waters to all dive boats, so we were grounded. Several of us rented scooters and drove over to the other side of the island. As we have been to Cozumel on dive trips in the past, we knew our way around quite well, and lead the pack. It was a nice way to spend the day - it only cost us $30/scooter. I wouldn't recommend you rent scooters unless you are comfortable driving one (we had them in college). As long as you avoid congested areas in town, you will be fine. We knew what streets to take back to the pier that had less traffic in San Miguel. Once outside of the city, there was no traffic to speak of.

Days at Sea

Our two days at sea were spent exploring the ship and participating in the many activities the Navigator had to offer. Unlike other ships, the Voyager class ships like the Navigator have lots of "active" things to do, which was perfect for our group. There was an inline skating rink, the imfamous rock climbing wall and basketball/volleyball. Indoors, one could go to the spa, work out in the gym, or go ice skating, just to name a few of the activities.

As I said earlier, our group consisted of adult competative volleyball players, so on the two days at sea, we reserved the sports court exclusively for our use.

Final Thoughts

I'm sure I left out some aspects of our trip, so if you have any questions, please leave a comment. If you have an upcoming cruise aboard the Navigator coming up, I know you will enjoy yourself. When it comes to the food, go in with realistic expectations and you will be fine.

One of the biggest complaints people have concerning Voyager Class ships is the large numbers of people and the long lines associated with this. I have to say, although our December 13, 2003 sail date was NOT sold out, the captain had said there were 2900 out of a possible 3100 passengers aboard the Navigator including 300 children under 18. I never experienced long wait times anywhere nor did we see many obnoxious kids roaming the hallways. The children who were part of our group all said they enjoyed Adventure Ocean, the kid's program. Both pool areas were busy on days at sea, but empty lounge chairs were everywhere. If you hate lines, I would probably recommend NOT booking your cruise during school holiday periods, when these ships traditionally sail at full capacity.

Our Group's Message Board

For the past 15 months, our group kept in touch through a message board, which we no longer will be using. We have compiled over 300 messages, including ship reviews, port information and helpful hints regarding the Navigator which are archived. I will eventually delete the board, but until then, you are welcome to check it out. You must be a member to gain access to our archived messages, but once you do, you can access a wealth of information. It's located at:

Good luck.


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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: November 15, 2003

The Navigator of the Seas is one 'BBC!' While a BBC is synonymous with one of Royal Caribbean's signature cocktails, I use it in this context: "Big Beautiful Cruiseship." Although not perfect, it's as close to perfection as one can get.

As mentioned in other reviews on Voyager-class ships, it is a floating city. And, as with cities, it can be a bit crowded at times. This was most noticeable when events were scheduled in the Royal Promenade (downtown), such as the Captain's Welcome Reception, street entertainment and parades. The Promenade is a larger version of a main atrium on smaller class ships - with an assortment of the typical shops found on board most, with the addition of a champagne bar, coffee bar, snack bar, and maybe one or two others I missed. You may purchase alcohol for cabin consumption in the Gift Shop, but there is a $9 per bottle upcharge, which basically means it'll cost about what you pay for it at home. Traffic flow seemed to be very good, even with 3000 people on board, but I was able to get lost/turned around at least several times a

day; the children on board did a better job of finding their way.

STATEROOM: (category D2 - was a D8 when I booked it). This is a balcony cabin on Deck 8. With every new ship, improvements are made. There is more than ample storage for 2 people for a 7-day, or even a back-to-back cruise. Lots of nooks and crannies. Closets are roomy, with shelving on one side, a bar for hanging, and two fold down bars for added hanging space, if desired. The bathroom shower appears to have more space than most ships, due to the rounded-out sliding shower doors - no more curtain that sticks to the body! There is a shampoos dispenser in the shower. The only disappointment is that RCI has done away with one amenity - lotion - unless you are a 'Diamond Member.' The cabin decor was a combination of soft but bright (if that makes sense) colors and wood. A hair dryer is proved in the top desk drawer. All cabins have safes (you program the code) and mini refrigerators, which is stocked with beverages and snacks. These aren't free! I've heard from various sources, that you should not remove or move these items or you will be charged. Ask your room steward to do it. Stateroom rating: A.

FOOD - MAIN DINING ROOM (there are 3 - Swan Lake, Coppelia, Nut Cracker): Again, this is a matter of personal taste (no pun intended). I found the quality better than I expected. Having read others commenting on how RCI has gone downhill in this department, I was pleasantly surprised. There were 4 or 5 entrees offered every evening that included beef, poultry, fish, lamb/pork, vegetarian and pasta. If none of these were to your liking, they also had a steak, chicken breast, salmon and Fetticini Alfredo every night. Live, soft dinner music, either piano or strings, played throughout. Our dining room was Swan Lake, which is the uppermost tier and the brightest. The Nut Cracker was on the first level and was much larger and also had the Captain's Table. We had all of our dinners in the dining room, so I can not comment on the Portofino Restaurant or Chops Grille. Rate it as excellent (A).

FOOD - WINDJAMMER AND JADE CAFES: Buffet style, and visited several times for breakfast (opens earlier than the dining room) and lunch. And again, I think for buffet food, it was very good. They had some basics every day but also had many new additions mixed in. One of the better buffets I've had on board a ship in awhile. Rate it as Very Good to Almost Excellent (A-).

FOOD - JOHNNY ROCKETS: This is a "must do," "do not miss." It takes all of us older folks back to the 50's and 60's, and shows the younger folks what they missed. Food is free, drinks, except for water, are extra, and you can get the largest glass of beer on the ship - 20 oz - for $3.50. There are booths with nickel jukeboxes and a soda fountain type counter with swivel bar stools (all plastic covered of course), with more juke boxes; lots of chrome, old style napkin dispensers, salt and pepper shakers - the works. It's a step back in time. Oh, yes, the food! The best burgers and (Nathans) hot dogs served on the ocean! You begin with (what else), 'Starters.' which is a platter of french fries and onion rings, with two dipping bowls - ketchup and ranch dressing. Yes, ranch dressing - I never realized how good fries are with it. There are 5 or 6 variations of hamburgers. Also on the one page menu (plastic coated, of course), are a selection of club sandwiches and chili. Oh, and when there's a real beat tune on the jukebox ("YMCA", "Stayin' Alive," etc.), the waiters and waitresses stop what they're doing and dance to the music. WARNING: The burgers and dogs are very messy - wear something already stained. I had lunch/late lunch here 5 days. Rate it as Acceptional (A+).

POOL AREA AND SUN DECK: Wow! More cruise lines should follow RCI's lead. You are issued two pool towels in your stateroom, for which you are responsible. Once used, you can exchange them for clean ones poolside, or your cabin steward will replace them that evening. This cut down considerably on 'Lounge Hogs.' The 2 pools seemed small for this size ship, as well as the Solarium pool, but they were never overly crowded and there was always an ample amount of lounges available. Now, if they could only enforce the policy of children not swimming in the hot tubs, I'd probably rate this experience an A. The Solarium pool is for adults only.

ENTERTAINMENT: I walked into the first main show, just as it was beginning, and there was not a seat to be had, so I missed it. I went back to drown my sorrow (money) in the casino, which I might add, didn't take too much away over the entire week. Actually, come to think about it, it treated me kindly. The other productions I saw, which was most of them, were very, very good. The Ice Show is another 'Must See.' It's free, but you have to get tickets the day before, because it only seats so many. I didn't catch any of the lounge acts, but what I did see, I'd say was excellent (A).

SERVICE: Both the room steward and dining staff were very efficient and pleasant. It was one of the few times we saw our assistant maitre d' every day. The shops' personnel was a little standoffish, but that wasn't a big deal. Rate the service an A-.

EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION: Again, RCI has this down to a science. Arrived at the cruise terminal at 11:00am. went to the special check-in for Platinum and Diamond members, on the ship and in my cabin by 11:30am. Was one of the first to be called for debarkation at a little after 7:00am, spent a half hour at the baggage carousal for my luggage, hopped in a cab, and was sitting at my airway gate at Miami International by 8:30am. Initially, I was worried - I had an 11:30am flight. Rate this as superb (A+).

ITINERARY: LABADEE, HAITI: One of RCI's private oasises. Probably as close to a total paradise beach experience as one can get. Royal Caribbean keeps updating and improving here, with 4 beach areas, more outbuildings, water toys and activities. It just keeps getting better and better with each visit. OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA: Used this as a 'Sea Day' the past several times, having ported in Jamaica numerous times, both here and Montego Bay, with unpleasant experiences. This time was different - found it to be VERY clean, and the local people friendly and non-aggressive; totally different from the past. James Bond Beach was a recommended beach, but that was a $120 round trip cab ride. We hung out in town and at the Village Island complex - $3.00 admission to their beach. A surprisingly very pleasant experience. GRAND CAYMAN: Another beach day. The cruise line recommended the Beach Club Colony ($3.00pp cab fare) but the taxi driver talked us into going a little further ($4.00pp) to the beach across the street from the Holiday Inn. I'm glad we did. We saw the beach at the Beach Club, and the one near the Holiday Inn was far superior, wider and less crowded. Well worth the extra buck each way. COZUMEL: Was going to be another beach day at Playa Azul, but ended up a light shopping day. Got hung up with an Independence (Revolution) Day Parade, but that was kind of fun. Then headed to our favorite store - Los Cinco Soles. Good quality cotton wear and the least expensive vanilla anywhere, and in lightweight plastic bottles - good gift idea and stocking stuffers. Then down to bye-bye - more cotton wear. Between Los Cinco Soles and bye-bye, there is a great leather goods shop (quality - brand names) where prices are VERY negotiable.

Since I've been to these ports before, I've done the adventuring thing and tours. This cruise was meant to be, and was, total relaxation, from start to finish! I know I skipped a lot of information in this report, and it wasn't intentional. There were just so many things to see and do on the ship that time, and in some cases, space here, does not allow. Overall experience - Excellent (A).

If I can be of any help with Information about the Navigator of the Sea, or the ports of call, please feel free to contact me. "The next best thing to cruising is talking about it."

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: October 4, 2003

First things first. After almost two years of reading cruise reviews and looking at photographs, I have decided that it is time to return the favor. This is my third cruise and very first review so please be kind. *smile* I should also make it known that I'm about as far from an English major as one can be. I consider my writing to be in the Classical E-mail style mainly. I will do my best to make this easy for you all to follow, but my thoughts change as often as gas prices. With that said.

Call me Scott. Some days ago, never mind how long precisely, having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.(1) My partner and I departed from Seattle after a busy day of packing. Not packing for the cruise mind you, but packing to move. After dropping off the last load of boxes on the living room floor of the new apartment, it was finally time to pack for the cruise.

Exactly thirty minutes later we left for the airport. If that doesn't convey the amount of stress we were feeling, I don't know what else will. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale with little sleep after a long night of red-eye flights. We collected our luggage and grabbed a cab for the trip to Miami (approx $65.00 including tip). Driving into town was truly a treat. I can't explain the feeling we had as we saw the two massive ships (Navigator and Explorer) docked right in front of each other appearing on the horizon (well, as much horizon as you can have in downtown Miami).

Ok folks, I know that we all have this little itch inside. We love to read about everyone's complaints in these reviews. It's almost like driving by an accident on the highway. No matter how much your aggravated by everyone slowing down to look, you can't help but look yourself. Well, no matter how wonderful this cruise was, I do have complaints. Here's the first one. PORTERS. I don't know what got up this guys rear end that morning but he was about to get my left foot as well. After having to unload our own luggage with help from the cab driver and drag it to the curb, our porter picked it up and moved it the last 1 ½ feet to the cart and stuck his hand out. Lack of sleep was getting to me and I was still trying to mentally prepare myself for the lines that were ahead of us in the terminal. I gave him $6.00 for the four bags he put on the cart (his job). Had he actually done more than talk to the cab driver and helped us with our luggage (his job), I would have been happy to tip him more. As it was, he got more than $1.00 a bag for his lack of service. Mainly because that's what was in my pocket at the time and I just wanted to get inside to the AC as fast as possible. Apparently this was not acceptable for him and he put his hand out to my partner for more money. Confused, we just said that was all the bags we had. He insisted we give him more money. Bewildered, we just walked away hoping we would one day see our luggage again. After sharing this story onboard, we were shocked to hear others similar. Even going as far as porters who were flat out "charging" $10.00 per couple to handle their luggage. This is the first time I have encountered something like this. It was quite a put off esp. since we had still to set foot on the boat.

Once inside we made our way upstairs and through the lines. To our pleasant surprise, we were registered and in line to board the ship within fifteen minutes. Kudos Royal Caribbean! We made our way to cabin 8516 (balcony) to change and freshen up a bit before heading to the Windjammer for lunch at noon. Our cabin attendant was a very pleasant gentleman who was a little confused when we kept pushing the beds together at night after he made them separate. He finally caught on and after that point we really didn't see him much. No complaints though. Our luggage came after lunch (thank God). While Scott was taking a nap (his name also), I unpacked. With the rush that we were in to get out of town, neither of us were really careful about how we packed. We decided to get all the shirts and pants pressed once onboard. This was a HUGE convenience for us. 2 suits, 11 shirts, and 7 pair of slacks came to just under $40.00. We'll do this from now on. We ate lunch and toured the ship.

The ship is very easy to get around. Although, you will realize the shear size of her once you find out that your cabin is on one end and the dining room is on the other. Too far from the food, our first booking mistake. Our experience on the Adventure of the Seas proved to be an advantage on this cruise. The layout and ship schedule is basically the same. The biggest difference we noted was in the balcony. Gone are the steel boxes that once comprised the voyager class balcony. A nice touch. It makes the ship much more pleasant to look at (and we all know that we want the other cruise ships looking at us while we're in port). You can now sit on the balcony and see the ocean without having to stand up and lean over the rail. With much of the external support removed, they did have to install support columns in the hallways outside the cabin doors. Not a huge eyesore, but I did notice them right away. It's worth it for the views from the balcony though, not to mention the columns help keep you upright on your way to the room when you've had one too many coco loco's.

We mustered at 4:30ish and to our relief our muster station was in the Ixtapa lounge. The last thing we wanted was to stand in the Miami heat and humidity with a hundred other people around us all wearing life vests. Huge difference this made. Our muster drill was almost enjoyable. At 5:00 pm, we made our way to the pool deck to meet our fellow Cruise Critic passengers for sail away. What a difference these people made in our cruise. I have sailed with other cruise critics prior to this cruise and based on my experience, I wasn't expecting much. Just a few weeks into chatting on the boards, I knew this group was going to be different...AND DIFFERENT WE ARE! We had been talking multiple times daily for months and basically knew each others inseams by the time we boarded. The best I can remember, there was over 86 of us onboard. 30+ of us were members of the core group (The Purple Ribbon Cruise Critics). Like that guys? I took the liberty of naming us. =) I can't say enough about how wonderful these people are. As the Explorer of the Seas sailed by us, the two ships took part in a sort of mimic game of blowing horns. It was cute. We ended up cutting the party short so that folks could get ready for dinner.

It was at this time that I went to the spa for my scheduled facial. Wonderful as always. The Spa is one of my favorite parts of the ship. I had an hour long oxygen and galvanic stimuli facial and it cost $100.00 plus tip. Note, you receive a $20.00 discount for booking services the first day following the spa tour. The young lady was very polite and not pushy about pushing her products. Although she did make it sound like space would collapse in on itself if I didn't purchase what she recommended. Well, that's the last thing I wanted! This was the first day of the cruise, not the best time for space to collapse on itself. I ended up with a total bill including tip over $400.00.

O wata goo siam, O wata goo siam.

Also, I wanted to make a note here for you all. On previous cruises I noticed the spa hosting discounted specials towards the end of the cruise. They would be listed in the Compass. This time there were spa specials, but not really discounted. Just different packages that weren't advertised in the spa service menu. Whatever..It's time for dinner.

The food on this, my third Royal Caribbean cruise, was good. Not great, but good. I've noticed a definite attempt at cost cutting. I'm not saying the food was awful as others have portrayed it. Just lacking what it used to. The dining room was fabulous as was the service. Brent was one of the, THE BEST waiter I have ever had. However, there was a definite exception to Chops. The food was incredible! The service on the other hand was lousy. I don't expect that to be the norm. There ended up being a party of 18 that was consuming every available resource the staff had. Including patients. Chops was definitely well worth the $20.00 charge. Shoots, there were people in our party that ate more than $20.00 in appetizers! *wink wink* I can't leave this topic without bringing up the infamous Ranch Steak or Surf and Turf. It was great! In fact, I didn't hear anyone in our group think otherwise. We were all surprised. I ordered it only for the kitsch value. I wanted the t-shirt that says "I had the Ranch Steak and survived!". I have included a picture in the photo album.

The production shows were very good. The Voyager class ships have HUGE theatres and are able to do so much more than the Vegas style review (although, there were a few headdresses on the stage). The 4 main singers have voices that could blow you out of the water. The only problem I have with these shows are the fact that they give psudo rolls to the dancers. I know I of all people don't need to tell you this. You can't make a male dancer act like a straight man no matter how hard you try. Just give up! The ice dancing show was pretty good. It seemed to me that the Adventure of the Seas show was better by far, but still, you can't believe what they can do on ice in the middle of the ocean. And that girl and the hula-hoops! My gosh! Will the carnage ever end??? Entertainment throughout the ship was very good. The guy playing requests every night in the Two Poets Pub was awesome and a lot of fun! (FYI, this pub is the only place onboard where you can get Newcastle Brown Ale). The hired entertainers where in my opinion, fare to partly cloudy. The ones I saw were quite enjoyable, others I didn't even want to see. And I can't leave out our Cruise Director, Jeff Arpin. He was the best I have ever seen. Very funny, although I get the feeling his routine never changes. His punch lines were very well rehearsed. But still, he was able to make me laugh every night.

On our first day at sea, the pool deck was as expected. Crowded. However, I didn't see any chair saving and if you looked, you could always find two, three, or even four deck chairs together. We were never without a chair. Our favorite spot to sit and read or people watch was the Solarium. This is the "adult" area of this ship. It contains 1 fair sized salt water pool and 2 fresh water hot tubs. There were often times when Scott and I were the only ones in the pool or the tub (a huge benefit to having second seating at dinner). That area was never crowded and you could easily find sun or shade. It was fairly quiet and had great sea views. There was always bar service around if you wanted a drink. I never had to get up and go to the bar myself. I did tip for the service if they brought me a drink (above and beyond the gratuity added to the check). But here his complaint number two. Since my last cruise, Royal Caribbean has taken it upon themselves to add a gratuity line to every receipt you will see. Prior to this you would just have a printed total and signature line. Not a huge deal, but it leads me to believe that they are grubbing for more tips. If a gratuity is added to the check automatically and there is no service (you get it yourself), then no additional tip is needed. I realize this is petty of me, but many people who didn't know better were tipping every time they signed they're name. That adds up fast!

Our first port of call was Labadee, the private island. It was very beautiful. Although, there were a LOT of jelly fish in the water. If you are going to swim, I suggest staying in the area protected by a net. The only problem we heard was if you wanted to snorkel. The net kept out the jellies but also kept out all the tropical fish. Not to mention the water was a bit churned up. What would you expect from a 140,000 ton ship pulling in and dropping of thousands of people. The island was clean, well maintained, and people were friendly. No locals pushing crafts right of the boat. I guess this is a change from prior. All the vendors are stationed in an out of the way location and it's up to you to go to them. My tip to you, if there is anything you think you may need or want, take it with you. Labadee is a tender port so going back to the ship for something you forgot will be more pain than it's worth.

Ocho Rios was as expected. Jamaica, not my favorite island in the Caribbean. We booked the Pete Taylor tour. He picked us up at the pier, took us to Fern Gully, the falls, and drove us around the outskirts of the city for some history. It was fun, and a lot cheaper than booking through the ship. I, however, was not overly impressed with Pete Taylor. People on the Cruise Critic boards speak of him and his tour very highly. I felt he was just like any other tour operator. He had a job, and he did it..End of story. The falls themselves are BEAUTIFUL! It was a bit more work than I expected, but just about anyone can make it up. The water was a little chilly at first but felt good in the heat of the day. We got there later in the afternoon so there were already tons of people making their way up the falls. The guides were very rude and pushy. If you slowed down to help someone or take a picture, they splashed us with water to make us hurry up. Also, don't bother with taking a camera unless it's waterproof. If you climb the falls, you have to release your camera to one of the guides who climb with you. They say they will take pictures for you and return the camera to you once you dry off. We got 1 picture and he lost our lens cap. After being pushed, pulled, yelled at, and splashed, loosing the lens cap was just about all we could take. He put his hand out for a tip and we politely informed him that his tip was paying for a new cap. Leaving the falls was a whole new adventure. I have heard about shopping in Jamaica, now I have seen it first hand. Just trying to get out of the falls and into the parking lot was a nightmare. You can say no, you can keep walking, or you can do as I did and just flat out run. Either way, you will still be grabbed by your arm and literally dragged to see their crafts. If you don't know what shopping is like in Jamaica, I strongly suggest you read up before going. Don't touch, even if it's handed to you. Free means free with a 15 dollar tip. Don't give your name or birthday/anniversary dates. You'd be surprised how quickly you will own something. People got back to our bus with stuff they didn't even know they purchased. =) This was more then enough fun in Jamaica for us so we went right back to the ship for some food at Johnny Rockets and a nap by the pool.

The following day brought us to Grand Cayman. Personally, I feel this is one of the friendliest and cleanest islands in the Caribbean. I've seen just about all of them (southern, eastern, western) and besides St. Thomas, this is by far one of my favorites. We booked the NativeWay tour with a few other cruise critics. Again, this tour offered more than the ships and was much cheaper. We went to Stingray City and the Coral Gardens. The water was warm and clear. The boat ride was smooth and very enjoyable. The guides were fun and had lots of information. Lots of fish and stingrays including the very rare Caribbean Red Stingray (see photo in album). Fellow cruise critic, Captain Becky, took us back to the docks and we boarded the bus back to the ship. You had the option of stopping at 7 mile beach and catching a cab to the pier if you wanted. We went to Hard Rock for some drinks and munchies before a 1 hour of crash shopping. Grand Cayman is a short day and the tenders don't help any. The last tender was at 3:30 and we soon set sail for Cozumel.

We didn't end up seeing much of Cozumel. Once we docked, we went right to our ferry for the trip to Playa del Carmen. We booked the Tulum tour through the ship, mainly for the insurance in case a ferry was late leaving the mainland. Once on the mainland, we boarded a bus for Tulum. The tour was put together very well and the driver and guide were great. We were very tired though. Most of the info went in one ear and out the other. I fell asleep on the bus more than once. They made a stop at a crafts market for a pit stop and then continued to the ruins. Please keep in mind that most of this tour is spent getting there and getting back. Almost 7 hours and only 2 of them are actually spent at the ruins. That was fine with us though. The Mayan ruins were quite a sight to see. So much history. The views are breathtaking. The only bad part was the heat. I think I lost 3 pounds that afternoon. There is a lunch served on the bus, but if your not a fan of fishy tuna, then I suggest you stop at Subway before boarding the bus. Just watch out for the dive bombing dead birds! Inside story, but very funny. Only in Mexico! Why didn't we take a picture???

Our ferry back to the island of Cozumel was quite a ride. I suggest anyone with even the slightest twinge of motion sickness medicate themselves ahead of time. Both ferries cross open ocean and rock and roll the whole way. Once on the island, we only had an hour to shop. We picked up a few things and headed over to Carlos and Charlie's to see if anyone was left standing. Apparently not! We got back to the ship and took a seat on our balcony to watch everyone stumble back up the pier. Glad we did too! We got to see quite a show. Quite a few of our friends were doing the best they could to get back onboard.but not without offering the entire port side of the ship a show. (Keep your shirts on ladies!)

Another restful day at sea followed. This is always the saddest day of the cruise. Getting ready to say goodbye and packing is such a hard thing to do. We weren't going to go out easy though. At least not without leaving our mark on the ship. =) During the passenger vs. staff volleyball game (passengers won!), everyone started noticing the large amount of water gathering on deck and the sudden lack of water in the pool. What we thought was a lot of water on deck apparently didn't even compare to the amount of water flooding into the 10th deck cabins! I have to congratulate RCI on dealing with this! I'm not sure if the folks in the effected cabins got any kind of compensation, but they did have new carpet down on most of the 10th deck by midnight.

Here's one last complaint I have to add before closing up here. During the cruise critic party I won a diamond crown and anchor coupon booklet in the raffle. I was happy! Little did I know how hard it was going to be to use this booklet. We ended up being denied for various purchases and discounts using the diamond coupons. Since Scott and I are only Gold members, any transaction we wanted to use a coupon for that required a purchase, they would point out the fact that this wasn't our coupon due to the fact that it states GOLD MEMBER on the bottom of your seapass card. We explained more than once that RCI raffled us this coupon booklet at the cruise critic party. We were told both times that they have never heard of a "cruise critic party" and the coupon could not be honored. I wasn't in the mood to put up a fight or take this issue any further. I'm not one to complain to someone about service so I just let it go. My only question is why on earth would they give these things out and then not allow you to use them?

Our wake-up call came way too early. Depression had set in and all I wanted to do was get home so we could finish moving in to the new apartment. There were lots of available places to sit in the public spaces. Our color was called about an hour early and we said goodbye to the Navigator of the Seas. Luggage was easy to pick up. Unlike in San Juan, there is a baggage claim so you don't have to walk up and down endless rows of bags. We cleared customs, collected out bags and got a cab to the Miami airport. Our flight departed on time at 12:30 pm and we returned to everyday life here in the pacific northwest. This was the best of my three cruises and the ship was beautiful. I can't wait for our next Royal Caribbean cruise.

I hope this little review had some info you could use. I tried to touch on a little bit of everything but have left lots out. Please feel free to email me with any specific questions you may have about Royal Caribbean or the Navigator, Adventure, or Monarch of the Seas. I have no life so you will get a quick response. =) I also have a sample of photo's from this cruise online for you to review. Please note that a lot of them were taken with a brand new digital camera which I never read the owners manual for prior to leaving for the cruise. It was a learning experience. I will also be scanning all 7 days of the Cruise Compass and adding it to the gallery sometime in the next week. I will make a separate post on Cruise Critic when I get the scans uploaded.

Again, that you to all our wonderful Cruise Critic friends for making this such an enjoyable cruise. We have never been so welcomed by such a large group of people before. We sincerely love you all, miss you all, and will cherish our new friendships forever. Here's to the Mariner next year!

(1) Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: June 7, 2003

Great Cruise! Well worth the money. If you like to snorkel, you MUST try the Sail and Snorkle in St. Thomas. Make sure you take the DUCHESS sail boat. It is the best and fastest boat available. Dick and Duchess were great hosts. They let the kids and myself drive the sailboat! What a great time we had.

Dick was very informative about all of the different kinds of fish that we saw while snorkeling and he even searched his heart out to find us sea turtles. This was one of the best experiences of my life! And on the return trip Duchess makes the best tropical rum drink! And a bottomless bowl! You must sign up for this excursion, Don't miss out!

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: May 31, 2003

My wife and I cruised on Royal Caribbean (RCCL)'s newest ship, the Navigator of the Seas from May 31 - June 7, 2003 on the Western Caribbean itinerary (Labadee (Haiti), Ocho Rios (Jamaica), Grand Cayman, and Cozumel (Mexico). I will give some info & tips about the ship first and then some info & tips about each of the ports.

My goal in writing this is to give an overview of what I would have found helpful prior to cruising on this ship. If this is your first cruise and you do not understand how the tipping works or what a shore excursion is, or how you can order multiple entrees if you like, then please read some of the other postings concerning this cruise ship as well as the travel forums.

This review will not focus on detailing every nook and cranny of the ship, as plenty of other reviews have accomplished that feat.

Embarkation: We arrived at 9:45 a.m. and knew that we would have to wait to board the ship. By 11:45 we were on the ship. Although the embarkation was fairly smooth, it could have been better organized and

many people were confused at different parts of the embarkation process. Having been on 14 other cruises, I feel that RCCL has some room for improvement in the embarkation and disembarkation process.

Info / tips about the Ship:

Since this is the first year that this ship has sailed, it should be no surprise that it is in excellent condition. Unlike older ships that have worn carpet or visible rust, there are no such things on the Navigator.

Cabin The TV in the cabin has a channel which shows a camera view of the front of the ship (too bad they don't show any other views). This is a camera which is mounted high on the ship that show the front of the ship. So, if you get a cabin without a view, you can always turn on your TV and see what the weather is like. Also, the same TV channel shows the ship's position and speed.

There was enough room under the beds to place our 4 suitcases.

The rooms were equipped with 2 beds that were pushed together.

All cabins are equipped with a refrigerator in the cabin (it is a mini fridge and is stocked with soda, nuts, M&M's). We informed our cabin steward that we would not use any of the things in the fridge and instead we would keep our own Pepsi in the fridge. He said no problem and he even took the stuff out of the fridge and took it away for us. However, on the last day we noticed a $5.75 charge to our bill and when I called to have it removed, I was told that it was not the cabin attendant's fault because the fridge has an automatic eye and if anything inside is moved, it automatically charges the $5.75. This seemed like B.S. to me, since they had no way to know what could have been used, since every item in the fridge was removed. Anyway, keep a careful eye on RCCL since this might be an easy way for them to make money if people don't complain about the automatic charge.

On past cruises we have been given both an ice bucket and a pitcher of water. There was no water pitcher on the Navigator, just a small ice bucket, which is stored inside the fridge. However, this was never a problem because you can always keep some water chilled in the fridge.

The air conditioning knob in the cabin is more like a standard thermostat in a house (mounted on the wall) than the older type that we have experienced on past cruises (which usually are mounted in the ceiling).

The shower is slightly smaller than standard cruise size showers that we have experienced in the past. The comedian had a great bit of fun with the small size of the shower and if you are obese, then I suppose that you might curse RCCL for their shower design. If you are obese, you can always go up to the gym and use the showers up there (they are large). The nice part of the shower is that they have plastic doors rather than a shower curtain.

The first 2 hours were wasted because the door keys did not work properly. We had a difficult time and located the cabin steward and even his master key did not work the first 8 times. We were told that the battery was dead and we could return in 30 minutes and the door would work. However, 30 minutes later the door did not work, so we braved the line at the guest relations desk and were told that they replaced the battery and maybe the whole electronics in the door were broken, so another hour and 4 visits later the door was finally reprogrammed 3 times and our cards eventually worked. We were told that several other passengers had similar problems. Later that evening we received a voice mail from the guy at the guest relations desk making sure our door worked. Too bad RCCL didn't send us an arrangement of flowers or the standard bottle of wine for our inconvenience. I guess when the ship has 3200 passengers, they kind of lose track of the little things that cruiselines used to do.

Pools Although the daily newspaper (the Compass) has bold print about not reserving lounge chairs by the pool accompanied by a threat that the pool police have been instructed to remove articles that have been left unattended for more than 30 minutes, this is nothing but an empty threat, with absolutely no enforcement. I saw a pool police man shooting the breeze with a co-worker and never once did he remove towels from "saved" chairs. There are plenty of chairs on the ship, but if you want to lie on the same deck as the band/pools, then you will NOT find a seat unless you arrive early.

There is one pool and one hot tub that are for adults only. These are located in a section called the Solarium and they have the softest cushions. Although I never saw the pool police venture into this area, there were never any kids there because of the strict enforcement of the rules by the grumpy child-hating passengers who frequented the solarium. Although my wife and I enjoyed this quiet area of the ship on occasion, the average age in this section was definitely above 50.

Being the largest passenger ship in the world, it did not surprise me that there was hardly any movement at all on this ship - even when we passed through a storm.

I only had a few minor complaints. Take these as they are intended (information for future cruisers). One gripe that I had was that if you were by the pool and wanted anything to drink (for free) then you have to put of a shirt and shoes to get that drink. This is because the only drinks that are available are at the bar (for a charge) or inside the Windjammer (which will not let you inside without proper attire). I have been on past cruises where they had drink machines outside near the pool so that it was easy to get lemonade - not so on the Navigator. The same is true for food by the pool. If you want lunch, get your clothes on and go inside. They only exception is if you go up to Johnny Rockets and eat outside. Too bad the Navigator doesn't offer a grill (for hot dogs, burgers and chicken) outside by the pool.

Food As this was my first cruise on RCCL I had heard that I would receive food which was better than that on Carnival. I did not find this to be accurate. I think that the food choices and quality were quite similar to those on Carnival and my wife strongly believes that Carnival had better quality food than RCCL. We both think that the desserts on RCCL were sub par. Then again, we did not care for the desserts too much on Carnival. If you are going on a cruise solely for the food, I suggest another cruise line (such as Celebrity or Princess).

Unlike past cruises where we experienced cantaloupe that was semi-frozen, RCCL had excellent cantaloupe.

The Navigator has food available at several different locations in the Windjammer. Technically the Jade is not part of the Windjammer, but you can't tell the difference because Jade is right next to it. Anyway, there are always 3 lines that served exactly the same food. I suggest skipping the first line (Jade) and going to the second and third line. The first line is always the longest and I never understood why, because all of the food that was offered at the first line (Jade) is also offered in the third line.

I guess with 3200 people on the ship, it is not surprising that feeding time might cause some problems. We never had much of a wait in line for food, but getting drinks (water, lemonade, or ice tea) almost always involved a wait. Rather than a self-serve machine, RCCL has a worker manning the drink stations and they could rarely keep up with demand.

In general the seafood offered at dinner was pretty good (I always had seafood for dinner). I enjoyed the lobster (I got 3 lobster tails that evening). However, my wife does not eat seafood and she felt that there was never enough steak options. Although RCCL offers something called a "ranch steak" every night, it is hardly a quality steak. We did not eat at Chops or Portofino's (which charged extra) and we did not talk with anyone else who ate there.

There was singing after dinner on 3 evenings and RCCL really pushes the image of being an international community. Since the dining room has 3 levels, our entire level had a matre d' which they referred to as the head waiter. He came to our table, about 4 nights, telling us the same jokes over and over, and always seemed distracted. All of the people at our table gave him the standard tip, but there was a lot of discussion as to whether he deserved anything at all.

There are a few different locations where you can get frozen yogurt (either chocolate, strawberry, vanilla or a mix of vanilla and one of the other two flavors. They even have sprinkles at one of the yogurt machines (I don't understand why the Navigator doesn't offer sprinkles at all of the machines).

We had the late seating, which was great for us. Although we were told that second seating meant 8:00 p.m., I am sure that some people did not appreciate the fact that the second seating dinner did not actually begin until 8:30 (except for the first night, which didn't begin until 9:00 p.m. Clearly those with young children should keep this in mind when selecting which dinner option to select.)

One area that we were disappointed with was that there were rarely any fruit carvings. Even for the midnight buffet (grand buffet) there were only a few fruit carvings. They have some Styrofoam carvings which have a thin layer of chocolate on them during the grand buffet and most people thought that they were actually carved from solid chocolate. I think that there were only 3 ice carvings the entire cruise.

We visited Johnny Rockets 3 times and enjoyed shakes (their menu advertised malts as well as shakes, but when I asked about malts, I was informed that they have no such thing (I wonder why it's even on the menu then). Anyway, the chicken sandwich, hot dog, and chili-cheese fries were all great, and when you sit down they automatically bring you a plate of fries and rings before you even order. By the way, all of the food at Johnny Rockets is free. But all drinks other than water cost you money (the shakes cost just over $4.00 and when you sign for them the 15% tip is included, but the receipt has a line for "additional tip." I suppose that some people must feel that more than 15% is warranted.

Crew The cruise director was very active and actually told some pretty good jokes during the cruise. There were 3 comedians on the ship. The black guy (Carl Strong) was hilarious at the first show (the clean show) but his midnight show was lack-luster and recycled some of the same jokes. The second comedian was a guy named Gary Muledeer and he had a 5-minute piece of video self-promotion at the beginning of his show explaining how he used to be a popular comedian in the 1970's. I have never seen a show where the comedian had to convince the crowd that he was someone famous. Anyway, he did comedy and singing. I hate country music, and that was the type of music that he performed, so I did not care for the music, but his comedy was funny.

The last comedian we missed, but he had a Hispanic name (Pancho or something like that). There was a Juggler from Hungary who went by the title "the Gentleman Juggler." He was okay, but not as good as the jugglers that I have seen on Carnival.

This ship has Kareoke and takes it very seriously. Of course the drunks perform during the week, but they select the best person each night and on the last night of the cruise they have a Kareoke final and all of the best people compete. They take it so seriously that they even have mandatory rehearsals. I suppose that it worked because the guy who won was excellent. He was from Spain and spoke no English but sang a wonderful rendition of Unchained Melodies.

RCCL should take a tip from Carnival and do the towel creations every night. We received only 3 towel creations, and two of them were unrecognizable. I later found out that something was supposed to be a stingray. RCCL does this thing where they arrange the pillows into some weird designs, but the first two nights I didn't even notice and only realized it when our tablemates talked about it. Some of the pillow arrangements were symmetrical, but nothing like having a cute towel creation.

As is to be expected, the pool decking gets very hot. There are pool games such as group volleyball, men's sexy legs contest, and a belly flop contest.

As to be expected from a brand new ship, the Navigator has talking elevators. This is a nice feature (especially for the drunks). Right before the elevator opens its doors, it verbally announces which floor you are on. There is a female voice that says "deck three" or whatever deck you are on. RCCL also has floor mats inside the elevators that announce the day of the week (yes they change them daily).

Rockwall - I climbed the rockwall and had a blast. When I went it was the first sea day and they make you sign-up on the hour and you spend 20 minutes signing a waiver and then waiting around. Then since the line was so long, they said that we only got one shot that hour. That means if you slipped or fell, you were done and you had to sign up later on to try again. Fortunately I was able to climb all the way up and I even ended up on the ship's video.

In-line skating. I own my own rollerblades, so I wanted to give the in-line skating a try. I walked right up, signed a waiver, and checked out some in-line skates. When I skated I was all alone for a while and eventually two other people arrived. I initially thought that the in-line skating area was too small, but after a few laps I changed my mind and I now believe that it is sufficient size for a cruise ship.

Shows - we felt that the shows were so-so and were typical of cruise shows. Don't expect too much from the Broadway-style shows and you will be happy. For some reason all 4 of the main singers are 20-50 pounds overweight. Maybe that is because they eat the ship food all the time.

The ice show was outstanding and by far the best show that we have ever seen on a cruise ship. If you can only go to one show on the cruise, make sure to go see the ice show. They do the same show on the ice 3 days during the week and they offer tickets on the first or second day of the cruise at two times. I skipped the morning time (because I figured that the lines for tickets would be too long so I went down for tickets at 2 pm and I discovered that the tickets for the first day of the ice show was sold out, but there were plenty left for the second and third days of shows. Half of the performers (ice-skating) were from Russia and I wondered if they were the Olympic rejects.

Tips/ gratuities - you can automatically add the suggested tips to your card (sail pass account) but you have to request for that to be done. I missed the noon deadline on Thursday so I just went down to the purser's desk (they refer to it as Guest relations desk) and they billed my card. However, I was surprised to receive print-outs vouchers and envelopes and instructions to hand the crew the envelopes with vouchers. That is just ridiculous. If I wanted the awkwardness associated with handing an envelope, I would just put cash inside it. To me, the whole point of putting the tip on my card, is so that I can cruise without having to worry about remembering to hand over an envelope and figuring out when is the best time to do the hand-over. Hopefully RCCL will revise this method of tipping, or better explain that the sole purpose is to save you from getting the exact change the night before tips.

Casino - the Casino was very nice and several people claimed to have won a few hundred dollars.

Bingo - My wife and I never played bingo for money before, so we were surprised when we won $270. We had seen on previous cruises that they have a jackpot bingo (for which tickets usually cost $10). I decided to buy a $10 ticket, but when I got to the front of the line and asked for the lest expensive ticket for the jackpot bingo, I was told that there is a $25 ticket but for an extra $10 I would get twice as many cards. I decided to buy the $35 card, and I would have felt tricked if I had not won. I later found out that they do see $15 ticket for the jackpot bingo. The extra cash gets you some tickets to play the 3 or 4 games that they do just before the jackpot game. By the by, since nobody won the jackpot in the morning (with an estimated pay-out of $3600, it rolled over and by the afternoon the jackpot was $6000 which some lady won.

Ports and Shore Excursions We did some research before we cruised and we did some of the exact same excursions offered by RCCL, but at a reduced price, because we did them on our own.

Labadee - In port 8 a.m. -4 p.m. Okay, this is the only port where you cannot do your own excursion. We paid the $10 per person and rode the banana boat and had a blast. They just charge your card for the cost so you don't need to even bring cash ashore unless you want to buy something from the locals (crappy art and the typical wood carvings and hair braids).

My wife and I love to snorkel, but the snorkeling in Labadee pretty much sucks. If you have your own gear then you can still bring your gear ashore and see the airplane wreck. It is easy to find. Labadee has 3 beaches to your left (when you get off the tender). Just go to the second beach (Barefoot beach) and look in the water and you will see an orange buoy floating. That is where the plan wreck is. It is maybe 100 yards from the shore, and an easy swim. Don't expect to see many fish, but if you swim along the rocks (at the second beach) you will see the best that they have to offer. There were a bunch of small jelly fish in the water, but they didn't have any stingers so they did not bother anyone.

Although we had our own snorkel gear, when we attempted to get in the water, several guards told us that we had to wear a life vest. I declined, telling one that I prefer to dive down and a life vest hinders that. They were adamant and pointed to a large rock on which were several extra life vests. I grabbed one for my wife and I and we snorkeled for a while. When we were done, we threw them back on the rock and laid out in the sun. We saw hundreds of others renting snorkel gear and I discovered that they also had to rent the vest. I don't know if people with their own snorkel gear were forced to rent a vest or not, but if they were, it is a big scam.

The locals have a scam going that is as follows. When you get off the tender, you walk to whichever beach you desire. There are thousands of lounge chairs and they are all stacked up in the shade. The locals have tossed a handful of sand on the bottom of the chair and they offer to carry it over from the shade into the sun for you. When they set it down, they make a big show of brushing off the sand. Then they hover around hoping for a tip. The Ship's newspaper specifically states that the chairs are free and to report anyone who charges you money. The locals do not come out and ask you for money but it is clear that they expect some. Many people felt intimidated and "tipped" the chair man a few bucks.

Finally, I had read all about the market on Labadee and how pushy the locals are. Let's just say this. Unless you want to buy some wood carvings or local art, then there is no need to even visit the market. It is pretty much a non-air-conditioned building with about 50 booths that resembled a flea market. The funny part is that every single person is selling the same crap. As you walk past each vendor, they try to lure you into their booth. Nothing has any price marked on it. Therefore, if you have any desire to shop at the local market, I suggest doing the following. When you go towards the market, walk to the left and you will pass a building filled with locals selling stuff. You will come to a second building and there is a lot less stuff inside of it and it resembles a store. Everything inside that building has prices marked on it and you can get a feel for what things should cost. THEN go back to the other building and use your knowledge to help you negotiate.

When we had lunch on Labadee we were very hot and were quite excited when we saw all of the food and drinks being set up by RCCL employees. Everything was fresh and excellent. They had a bar-b-que and even the potato salad was good (that is a dish that I would never eat if I wasn't sure of the sanitation conditions). RCCL allows some locals to sit nearby and play some music and push the sale of their compact disks and local wood carvings (Flutes and other toys/souvenirs). Everything that they had for sale (except for their music) was available cheaper at the shop.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica - In port 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Since we had never been to Jamaica before, I researched what there was to do in Ocho Rios and it seemed that most people visit the Dunn's River Falls. The more that I read, the more I saw that everyone was recommending a local tour guide named Peat Taylor. I checked out his website and saw that his tour went to the Dunn's River falls and Fern Gully and also would take us back to the ship for lunch and pick us up after lunch for some shopping. All of this ended up being more inclusive than the ship-offered excursions and it was cheaper than the ship's tours (Peat only charged $30 per person, which included entrance to the falls). The main reason that I chose Peat was because everyone said that he would get us to the falls before they got crowded, but that fell threw. One of the people who booked with him did not show up, and Peat was a nice guy and waited around a bit and then took us threw fern gully, hoping that the no-show would be at the port when Peat drove the van past it (to the falls). Anyway, we ended up getting to the falls late and there were hundreds of people already at the falls and the lockers were full and we had to leave out bags on a table, hoping that the local who ran the lockers would watch our bags. We then walked down the steps to the bottom of the falls and got in a huge line and held hands and began the climb up the falls. This was an amazing experience, but if the falls were not crowded then I think it probably would have been easy to navigate the climb alone, without the help of guides. There certainly were some dangerous areas, but as long as you are careful, you should do just fine.

Oh yea, buy some cheap water shoes at Wal-Mart for $5 before you leave home, because it is next to impossible to do the falls without them and they rent such shoes at the falls for $6, so you may as well buy them, and then you can use them on the other islands as well (and by the pool where the deck is very hot).

When Peat drops you off at the falls, he will leave you in the custody of two guides who will occasionally help you up the steep sections of the falls, and who expect a tip for their services. Peat gave excellent advice about the local scams. He said that the locals will hand you something and once it is in your hands, they will not take it back and then they will try and talk you into buying whatever is in your hand (so never take anything that they hand you). At dinner that night our table mates confirmed that this happened to them and they felt pressured into buying whatever it was. Another scam is that the locals ask you what your name is and when you tell them, they immediately carve it into some wooden piece of crap that they are selling and then tell you that you HAVE to buy it because it is now ruined and they cannot sell it to anyone else.

As we were exiting the falls (they make you walk through a market in order to exit the falls) and I observed both of the above scams in action. I also observed a third scam, where the local tells you that something is free (in order for you to take that object into your hands).

When Peat drops you back at the ship he reminds you that he supplied the tickets into the falls (which have the admission price of $10 marked on the ticket), hoping that you will give him a $10 per person tip. Everyone gave him some amount of a tip because he was an excellent guide.

Peat dropped some people off at Margaritaville (which is just a 5-minute walk from the ship) and when he took us shopping we had about an hour. My wife saw a pink sapphire ring (c2k) which started at $1800 and the guy went down to $780. We decided to not buy and only found one store later in Cozumel which sold C2K pink Sapphires and they started at $1800 and only went down $100, claiming that the ring in Jamaica had to be fake because there was no way that an authorized dealer could go so low. We never bought that piece of jewelry, but we had been warned before our cruise as to the questionable authenticity of jewelry in Jamaica, so be careful.

We ended up buying Blue Mountain coffee for $14 a pound. I saw it as high as $20 a pound (right near the ship). Peat warned us to only buy the Blue Mountain coffee with one of two brand names because all others were probably fake. I bought one of the brands that he recommended (Jablum). Others in our group bought some other name (not recommended) and only saved $1 per pound.

Oh yea, on Peat's tour he showed us some James Bond stuff, including Ian Flemming's house. FYI, when you pull into port you will see this huge rusty building on the right side of the ship. It looks like it holds grain. Well, Peat told us that it was the location where the filmed Dr. No and it was Dr. No's laboratory.

Georgetown, Grand Cayman. In port 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. My wife and I decided to go to sting ray city and when we did our research it seemed that three places kept popping up. Captain Marvin's, Captain Bryan's and Nativeway (catamaran). We chose Captain Marvin's because it had the highest number of positive reviews and it visited three locations (as opposed to two locations). Captain Marvin's visited Coral Gardens, the barrier reef and sting ray city. FYI - coral Gardens was nice, but the Barrier reef was much better. Also, the barrier reef is only 100 yards from Stingray City. RCCL's excursion with the closest times and locations cost $58 per person, which is $18 more than what it costs with Captain Marvin (also the ship's excursions pack more people on the boats).

At the barrier reef the guide told us that there might be an eel and maybe a nurse shark nearby and he would try to find them. So I stuck next to him and as soon as we hit the water some people said they saw the shark, but they scared him away. So the guide, the videographer and I located the eel and the guide lured it out with some food. After he fed it, it moved towards me and I scooted out of the way (later on I saw myself on the video).

Then we moved the boat the 100 yards and joined the hundreds of people at sting ray city. My wife and I had swam with stingrays in Belize but this was different because here we were in waist-chest deep water and could easily stand. We were able to feed the stingrays and hold them for photos.

The video was pretty good, but expect to pay $55 for a VHS tape or $65 for a dvd, both of which will be mailed to you in a week.

Captain Marvin's offers ice-cold water or fruit punch on the boat ride and it didn't run out. Oh yea, all of the Navigator-run excursions required you to wear a life vest, but Captain Marvin's did not. Although he had plenty of vests, I never need one, but I don't think that many people wore them. My wife and I know how to snorkel, so we didn't need lessons, but I was one of the first off the boat so I have no clue if they even offered lessons.

They had a tip jar on the boat but they don't even mention tips. So if you want to tip, make sure to do so while you are on the boat so they guys get the money. When they brought us back to town, we all got a free rum cake and they did some kind of drawing and one person from our tour got a free T-shirt. Pretty cool.

We didn't get back into town until about 2:15 ship time and we had only about an hour to shop. My wife wanted a gold charm of a stingray and we found plenty and the prices ranged from $45-$110. However, the place that we bought it from would not negotiate at all. Not even $5. Very different from other Caribbean ports that we have visited.

Keep in mind that Grand Cayman is an hour different from the ships time, so if you are told to meet at Captain Marvin's shop at a certain time (we were told 9:15, which was 10:15 ships time) keep that in mind, so you don't sit around waiting for things to open, like a fool. Even if you get off the first tender, there are a few shops open (not many).

Cozumel - In port 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. My wife wanted to shop and I wanted to snorkel while in Cozumel. Since the ship is in port 9 hours, there is plenty of time to do both. The ship docks at the pier which is right next to the popular bar known as Senor Frogs. At the end of the pier there are tons of shops which actually have prices that are better than many stores in town (especially on booze and embroidered shirts).

I read many posts that suggested that we do our own snorkeling at the Chankanob National Park, and I almost went there but I had read several posts telling me how the snorkeling was even better at a place near Chankanaab Park which is called Dzul Ha, and it is much less crowded than Chankanaab Park. So I took a gamble and took a taxi to Dzul Ha.

We were very happy. First off, I never received any great descriptions about the beach description at Dzul Ha, so I will describe this. You take a taxi ($7 each way) and the taxi drops you off on the side of the road. The water is 50 feet away. Between the road and the water is a small area of sand. The sand is 95 percent covered in plastic beach chairs and there are a few covered benches. The benches have a sign warning you that you cannot bring your own food and you must spend $15 per bench. We did not sit at a bench, but opted for the lounge chairs instead. Almost immediately a waiter came up to us and asked us if we wanted and food or drink. I told him later and we went into the water. There was a pretty good current moving from the left to the right (as you stand on the land looking at the water. Thus the best plan is to enter the water as far to the left as you can (and swim even further to the left. Then swim out about 100 feet and let the current take you down a ways. There is a stairway that goes right into the water and there are no sea urchins in this area. Most other areas have sea urchins. We saw a large barracuda and a spotted eagle ray and several large (3 feet long parrot fish. We also saw a ton of trigger fish and blue tangs (about a foot long).

While we were at Dzul Ha, we saw several tour boats arrive and I could tell that at least one was the excursion from our ship. Yes, they went to the exact same place that we did for snorkeling. However, we only paid $14 (taxi to and from the beach) and we spent 3 hours snorkeling. The RCCL excursion costs $34 and would be an okay deal if you don't own your own snorkel gear and are not brave enough to take a taxi and rent it at Dzul Ha.

When we got back to the shore, we were ready for a drink and we paid $2.00 each for a 20 ounce plastic bottle of Pepsi. They also sold food and other drinks, but we didn't want to get sick eating the food, so we went back to the ship for lunch and then split another cab into town (San Miguel) (cab each way is $6).

Taxis arrive every several minutes to take you back to the ship. Just head back to the ship, hop in the mineral bath (by the gym), eat lunch and head back out for shopping!

The taxi stand at the end of the pier has fixed rates and they are painted on a large board (where the taxi stand is located). It costs $6 per cab to go each way into town (regardless of how many people are in the taxi).

The Navigator suggests to get dropped off at the store called Diamond International, so it is easy to find people to split a cab to that location. I prefer to take the cab a few blocks farther to Los Cinqo Sols as that is pretty much the farthest end of the shopping, and then I just walk in the direction of the ship until I come to Carlos and Charlies (and then take a taxi back to the ship from there). Most stores open at 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. local time. By far the best prices for Mexican blankets is at Cinco del Sol. We paid $11.95 for 3 blankets. (That is $3.98 each) We saw blankets range from $5 - $30 depending on where you bought them. You can get blankets on the pier (in the shops located ON the pier) for $5 each.

We were shopping for a few specific items. One was a gold sombrero charm for my wife's charm bracelet. We saw prices range from $20 - $120 depending on the store. Touch of Gold had the second cheapest price ($29.00).

Also we were shopping for large masks made from stone (obsidian, quartz, etc) which ranged from $25 - $75 depending on the store. In general, the ship recommended stores were the most expensive.

We noticed that some people were walking from the ship into town. This is really not a good idea. It is a 3 mile walk and you have to be pretty cheap to not be able to split a cab (if you split it between 2 couples it only costs $3 per couple each way).

We spoke to some people that took the ship's tour to the Tulum ruins and they said that there is now a subway nearby and that is where they ate lunch because they did not like what food was provided on the tour. Also, when they went in the water at Xel-Ha they were told that they could not wear sun screen because it hurt the fish.

I hope that this review gives you some insights into what to expect.

Dave a.k.a. snorkelman
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