Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Navigator of the Seas Review 12.14.2014


Navigator of the Seas Review 

December 14,  2014

Just The Facts
Ship:  Navigator of the Seas
Sailing:  December 14-December 20, 2014
Captain: Frank Martinsen
Cruise Director:John Perry
Ports: Galveston-Roatan-Belize-Cozumel-Galveston
Weather:  Mixed

I am cruising as a solo and this is my 18th Royal Caribbean cruise and second on the beautiful Navigator of the Seas although this is my 5th cruise with Captain Frank.  I had booked this cruise very early in order to get our favorite aft cabin on deck seven, but when DW decided not to sail I changed the booking to a solo with a category J interior cabin with the new virtual balcony display.

Day One--Sunday—Embarkation
Navigator's 2014 Christmas Tree
There were warnings online from cruisers already in Galveston for the cruise that road construction was very bad on I-45 so to allow for that I left the Ranch about 5:00 a.m. an hour earlier than my usual time.  I made very good time that early and Hwy 290 was diverted into I-10 so I went through downtown Houston which ended up being faster on a Sunday as it is a more direct route.  There was really no construction to speak of on I-45 on this Sunday so I ended up arriving at EZ Cruise parking a full hour before I would normally.  A shuttle was leaving for the Navigator so I went over strait away and was in the priority line outside The Port of Galveston's Terminal Two about 10:00 am.  I usually take my bag on with me, but since I was early I didn’t want to have to take it everywhere so I did check it with the porters. They opened priority boarding soon and I was checked in and boarding the ship at 10:42 am.  As it turned out I was the first of the new passengers and in fact passed half of the B2B cruisers who were taking casual boarding photos.  I was actually at the Windjammer buffet before the 11:00 am opening, but it was only a short wait until I was enjoying an early lunch.  I had fried chicken, potatoes (both mashed & wedges), and corn on the cob.  It was a nice lunch as was the bread pudding at the dessert station.  Cabins open at 1:00 pm so I sat on deck and watched NFL football on the big screen until time to check the cabin.  I’m on deck ten near the stairwell just below the Windjammer, a good location.  Obviously the first thing I see when entering the cabin is check out the virtual balcony (VB).  It’s amazing…I’m looking at the pier in Galveston.  It’s floor to ceiling about the size of a large window.  You even have a remote control so you can adjust the outside sound, I can’t wait to use the sound when we are at sea at night.  I can see where for some this could be better than an actual balcony, certainly better than a regular interior.  I was able to take a much needed wee nap.  My bag was delivered before the 4:00 pm safety drill and I met my cabin Steward Michael.  I was tempted to stay in the cabin and watch sail away on the virtual balcony since I have never done that, but I did go on deck and watch our sail away along with the Carnival Magic a little after 5:00 pm.  They pre-load your complementary Diamond guest cocktails on your sail and sign card so I had cocktails from the Sky Bar for sail away and it was fun, I enjoy watching newbie cruisers.  I went to cabin to prepare for dinner and noticed the Carnival Magic sailing ahead of us on the Virtual Balcony, a really amazing thing. I had time for one cocktail in the Diamond Lounge, then it was off to the Sapphire Dining room for dinner.  My table is located at the rear of level 4, nice guests, but I don’t care for the location.  Dinner was good, I ordered:  Shrimp Cocktail, Escargot, and the Prime Rib with Baked Potato entree.   The Welcome show was this evening, but I retired to the cabin.  When the steward does your evening  turn-down service they close the drapes on the virtual balcony just as they do for a regular balcony so the light won’t wake you in the morning…still amazing to me.

Day Two—Monday—at Sea
Navigator's resdient Dog
A very restful night and beautiful weather today.  I slept late, it was after 9:00 am when I opened up my virtual balcony window.  That amazing me.  I purchase an unlimited internet package this morning, the cost will be my excursion and entertainment cost for the cruise.  I considered a drink package, but with the drinks provided to Diamond guests there is really no need for one (for me anyway).  I didn’t leave the cabin until after 10:00 so I went up to the Diamond lounge and had some fruit for breakfast in their outdoor section.  It was a great private location so I got my laptop and spent a lot of the day there.  I did go to the MDR for lunch, the salads there are excellent.  In the afternoon I walked around the ship and had some cabin time.  At 4:30 I went back to the outdoor deck to use the internet and enjoyed some Heineken beers from the Diamond Lounge.  At 6:30 I went to the Metropolis Theater for the production show: Now and Forever featuring a selection of contemporary Broadway Show Tunes.  The Navigator Singers and Dancers were very good as well as the nine member live Orchestra.  After the show I had cocktails in the R7 Bar on deck 5 using the Diamond credits on my Sail card (what a brilliant program) until time for dinner.  Earlier today I had changed table assignments in the MDR as I preferred a better location so I am now on deck 3 closer to the center, nice people here too. The Captains Gala Dinner was a wonderful meal, I ordered: the wonderful Bay Scallop Gratin appetizer, the Artichoke-filled Crepe au Gratin, and the Carved Fillet of Beef Tenderloin  entree.  For dessert I had the BBB Creme Brulee.  All very good.  I did go to the Theater for the 10:30 Adult Comedy show featuring Jim McDonald.  I’ve seen him before and he is very funny.  They had a full house, as a frequent Carnival passenger it makes me wonder why Carnival doesn’t do their Punchliner shows in the main theater, it would be much more comfortable for all.  After a great long sea day I retired.

Day Three—Tuesday—at Sea
Ship Guide
I slept very well overnight and the weather was warmer and again beautiful.  I went to breakfast in the Sapphire dining room about 9:30 am and ordered mixed fruit, Eggs Benedict, and a side of Bacon.  It was excellent.  After breakfast I went up to the Diamond open area on deck 14 off the Diamond club, a great area with tables and chairs and shaded in the mornings.  The cookies from the Diamond Club are a bonus.  You also get better wifi speeds from up there too.  I had a nice late lunch in the Windjammer, they had roast pork at the carving station and the mashed potatoes are excellent.  I just a relaxed the rest of the afternoon. I went up to Diamond Lounge for a cocktail then to the R7 Bar for another while waiting for the 6:30 production show: The Edge Effect.  I had never seen this five person a capella group and they did a very good and entertaining show.  Time for a visit to the Diamond Lounge while waiting for dinner.  Tonight I ordered a Shrimp Cocktail, Eggplant Parmigiana, the Pork Tenderloin entree (not fond of it), and luckily the Chicken Marsala entree, with Tiramisu for dessert.  A very good meal.  It was 1970’s night with special music around the ship this evening, but I retired early.

Day Four—Wednesday—Roatan
Roatan Pier from Navigator
A good nights sleep overnight and I again slept well.  I opened my VB and saw that we are docked and that there was a light rain falling.  Certainly no reason to get about early so I relaxed and went upstairs about 10:00 am to the Windjammer for a made-to-order omelette with some nice ham from the carving station and bacon and extras from the buffet.  I will stay on board ship since it’s a questionable day, we would get a little sun and a little shower most of the day. I took a walk down to the Promenade deck and took photos while most pax where away, but most of the day I played on the internet taking a break for lunch in the Windjammer.  They have nice steaks that I enjoyed along with the mashed potatoes. We sailed away a bit after 4:30 and I missed it on the VB, but a plane flew by landing on the island that was certainly interesting to see.  I dressed for dinner an went up to the Diamond Club for some cocktails and nice Horderves/Appetizers (the chicken wings were great).  The Crown & Anchor past guest party was this evening @ 7:15, but it was really much better just staying in the Diamond Club.  It has been very convenient for me this cruise especially since I’m cruising as a solo.  I really like the Cosmopolitans they prepare on the Voyager, only a ‘touch’ of cranberry.  Dinner was very good this evening.  I ordered  Crab Cake, Shrimp Cocktail, an excellent Chicken Cordon Bleu, and a NY Strip Steak.  After dinner was the Love & Marriage Show in the Metropolis Theater, but I watched it later on cabin TV.

Day Five—Thursday--Belize
Cruise itinerary
A nice nights sleep as the ship was rolling a bit more…I like it.  I went up to the Windjammer for a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, ham, bacon, corned beef hash, and toast.  I walked about the deck enjoying the wonderful weather today, it was near perfect.  I had a nice lunch in the Windjammer then some cabin time until sail away.  I watched two TV show of two different shows I really had not been a fan of previously, Bones and Castle, but enjoyed them. I even ordered room service as to not miss any.  The production show this evening was: Donovan & Rebecca with the late seating guests at 6:30 and main seating dinners at the later show as usual.  Dinner was very good this evening, I ordered the NY Strip Steak as my primary entree.  There was a variety of activities this evening including: Gambling with the Ships’s officers in the Casino, Battle of the Sexes in the Star Lounge, and Ice Skating Shows in Studio B.

Day Six--Friday—Cozumel
Navigator and Allure in Cozumel
A bit of a restless night, but I slept rather late this morning. My VB did not not wake me as it is overcast so somewhat dark outside.  We are docked next to the Allure of the Seas at the International pier.  I went up to the Windjammer for fresh fried eggs, ham from the carving station, bacon, & hash browns about 10:30 am this morning.  More people there than I expected since this is a popular port, but perhaps the overcast skies has some wary of going ashore.  Since I was just here earlier in the month I really didn’t need to do my usual Cozumel ‘chores/activities’ I only have to get some Tequila & other alcohol for Christmas gifts.  I just went to the International Pier shops and looked around and did my shopping.  I was back on the ship in just a few hours.  I enjoyed reading, relaxing, and internet time most of the day.  The Production Show this evening was James Stephens III in the Metropolis Theater. I visited and stayed in the Diamond Lounge for a while this evening enjoying a few cocktails.  This was the second scheduled formal night and dinner was again very good,  I had a Royal Seafood salad, the Royal Shrimp Cocktail, Snow Crab Salad, the Slow Roasted Prime Rib, and dessert was Baked Alaska.  After dinner the primary event was the adult Quest game in Studio B.  Other entertainment included the usual ship performers including the 'Salsa Band', the ‘Rock’ band, and the Piano Bar.

Day Seven--Saturday--at Sea
Sunny beginning that became a cloudy day today.  I slept very well almost to 11:00 am so I knew I was beyond breakfast time.  I actually ended up with an ice creme for breakfast.  I had an early lunch in the Windjammer when it opened at noon then got a Self Assist pass from Guest services for tomorrows debarkation.  I split my time between the open decks and the cabin today.  A nice relaxing sea day.  The production show this evening was Ballroom Fever in the Metropolis Theater.  I visited the Diamond Lounge for a a cocktail about 7:30 and I again went with the NY Strip Steak for dinner and this one (my third of the cruise) was the best of the week.  After dinner the late show was comedian Billy Prudhomme.  I did some preliminary packing before turning-in this evening.


We were docked by 7:00 am and it was a beautiful day in Galveston.  I was up earlier and packed. No room service on debarkation morning, but a full breakfast menu is served in the dining room.  I actually went up to the Windjammer for a nice early breakfast. I have a 7:15 - 8:00 am meet time for our self-debark group B. You have to request self-debark on the Navigator and get a ticket at Guest Services the day prior.  Since we docked a bit early I suspected the debark would as well and it did with self assist guests going off about 7:30.  I was off about then and customs went smooth.  They did have a TABC booth set up to collect taxes on liquor and cigarettes as I left the terminal.  I was off  the island by 8:15.  I stopped at the new Buc*ees in Waller for gas ($1.91) and reached the ranch by 1:00 pm.  A nice debark and travel day.

Virtual Balcony
The Navigator of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s ‘Texas’ ship being the first to berth in Galveston year round since the Rhapsody of the Seas.  After Navigator it is to be the Freedom of the Seas and following that is supposed to be an Oasis class in Galveston.  With a large ship there are a lot of people and the pools can be very crowded during peak times and the elevators are always full, but the additional size also means that there is room for an ice skating arena, the photo gallery, casino, bars, etc. without any one of them dominating an entire deck.  The Grand Promenade is very impressive indeed and must be experienced.  The theme of the ship seems to be Hollywood Movies with movie posters decorating the passageways and stairwells. They have added a Flow Rider, the Sabor restaurant, Diamond Lounge, Digital photo displays on deck three, of course the virtual balconies on deck ten, and more during the dry dock retrofit at the beginning of the year.  I really like the new interactive touchscreen information centers located near all the elevators and other locations.  They have the daily Cruise Compass, guides, maps, and more.  They also have interactive menus at the Windjammer and on all entry floors of the Sapphire Dining room.

I had cabin 1639 an interior port side near the aft elevators.  Of course the unique feature that I have mentioned several times is the Virtual Balcony, I really liked it.  The room is a standard size interior with: key pad safe, hair dryer, refrigerator, lounge chair & ottoman, full chair at vanity/desk, nice sliding shower door, and great lighting. The second great feature was the flat screen TV that could be adjusted to view from anywhere in the room.  Very well designed.  The air conditioning & water pressure worked well, but I’m glad I brought my personal cabin fan for circulation.

Overall very good and my individual crew contacts such as cabin steward and waiters were better than my cruise in March.  I enjoyed the Cruise Director and the Activity Director’s morning show. I was very pleased with my cabin steward and dining room team.

My dining room (after 1st night) was the Sapphire Dining Room, deck three the lower level of the 3 level restaurant. The waiters were nice and service was good.  The bread and appetizers were very good, and you can order the Escargot, Cesar Salad, Shrimp Cocktail, or NY Strip Steak every night.  The Windjammer is also a very good to eat, the quality of food was excellent.  It’s the best food buffet at sea IMHO.  Room service was always good and prompt averaging 30 minutes for delivery.  Johnny Rockets was a good alternative for lunch or afternoon snack.  Lunch in the Sapphire Dining Room has the same menu each day with one special item that does change daily. There are several ice crème and yogurt machines.

Cruise Highlights
Diamond Club
Complementary cocktails loaded on Sail Card
Virtual Balcony

No comments: