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Navigator of the Seas - My Thoughts



 
 
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Old December 9th, 2003, 04:10 AM
Tom & Linda
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Navigator of the Seas - My Thoughts


I was part of Sue W's Viking Group on Navigator of the Seas. We sailed
November 29, 2003, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We were a group of
(I believe) 189 people.

My initial thoughts and observations follow. Remember, I'm an
Engineer. I'm analytical. I look at how things work. The concept of
"go with an open mind" is meaningless to me. I don't even understand
the concept.

Also, recognize that I'm a Celebrity and Princess fan. This cruise
reminded me of many of the reasons that we stopped sailing on RCI a good
5 years ago.

This collection of thoughts (it's not really a review) is about 90%
complete. I got tired of typing, and I didn't do a careful proofread.
So this is it. Any typos? Oh well. I focus mostly on the ship and
cruise experience, not our group, since most of the people here don't
know most of the people in the group.

--Tom


Flight Down
-----------

Effortless. Had a connecting flight through Atlanta. Pretty much all
on time. I flew down on Friday for our sailing on Saturday. I took a
taxi to the hotel.


Overnight in Miami
------------------

We stayed at the Radisson on Biscayne Blvd. Nothing to write home
about… but the group rate price was very reasonable. It was convenient
to the cruise docks.

After flying down, I decided to take a nap around 5:00 pm. We were
going to go to Bayside later that evening. I woke up at 7:00. Not pm.
7:00 am… the following morning. Talk about being exhausted.


Embarkation
-----------

Since we were part of a big group and had spent the previous night in
Miami, we had a bus pick us up at 10:00 am at the hotel. We were at the
dock by 10:30, after all the luggage was loaded on, and then unloaded
off the bus. With Crown & Anchor Platinum status, I was shown to a side
room adjacent to the big area where everyone stands in line, where my
paperwork was processed. I was on the ship within 5-10 minutes.


The Ship

--------

Since it's not a new class of ship, there's not much to tell that hasn't
been told before, but it was my first time on a Voyager class ship. So
I'll offer my impressions of the class of ship.

The Royal Promenade. OK, I'm probably the exception. I don't really
care for the Royal Promenade. I do like the 15 story atriums on most
ships. They are unique. You really mostly find them on ships. But a 3
story mall, we've got them all over the place. No Big deal. The Royal
Promenade might be unique on a ship, but there was nothing fundamentally
unique about it when we have malls that look like that every few miles
around here.

One thing I found interesting is that they have 2 sets of stairways,
port and starboard, at each end of the promenade. The ship is so wide
that you can do all kinds of different things like that. So instead of
one set of stairs, port and starboard each have their own set of stairs.

Much of the ship is smoke free. The restrict smokers to bars and other
places on the ship like that. I think that even outside, one side is
smoke free.

Where the Promenade ended in the aft, you have to walk around the stairs
that go to the lower level. You walk through a narrow area by the
champagne bar. That's one of the few places that allows smoking so you
either hold your breath or get a lung full of ciggy smoke as you walk
past.

Having only 2 elevator and stairway banks (at each end of the Royal
Promenade) for a ship that long meant a LOT of walking.

Bars are everywhere. Many are on the smaller side, like on Grand
Princess. Lots of different options, but also I got the feeling that
there were so many places to go that you never really developed any
"chemistry" with any one place on the ship. There was no "the place to
hang out" kind of place on the ship, like you get on many ships. Many
of the bars are very smoky.

The Dungeon - strange. Never went there other than looking around the
first day. Looks like something Farcus would design. Not my thing at
all.

The Dining Room - Very Attractive… if it wasn't for the food… more on
that later. Lots of dark colored wood like on Century.

The Windjammer. Best RCI Windjammer I've seen yet. Probably best
overall on all the ships I've seen in fact. LOTS of buffet station and
LOTS of tables and chairs. There are even Asian buffet stations on each
side of the ship before you even get to the Windjammer stations.

Casino - Gaudy. Tacky. Any Farcus sightings? Never spent any time
there other than as a walk through, to get to other areas.

Library - almost no books. Very small.

On-Line Internet Café - very nice, with all computers working.

Rock Climbing Wall - it was there but I never saw anyone anywhere near
it.

Hoops - there were always guys shooting hoops.

Solarium Pool - by definition isn't it supposed to have a cover? Well
it doesn't. What's the point of having a solarium pool without a
cover? There was almost no one ever there. To me, the best solariums
are ones like on Grandeur and Galaxy where the roof can be opened or
closed.

Ice Skating Rink - we had our group photo taken there. No signs of
Gretzky or Lafleur.

All the different places - I think it fragmented our group having that
many different places to go.


My Cabin
--------
I had one of the aft balcony cabins. The plus: the balcony was larger
than most. The minus: they are tiered and there is no privacy from
above. The person above you can see your entire balcony. There is a
unique characteristic on the Voyager class ships for these cabins, they
are not at the very back of the ship. Some circular metal structures
actually extend out past the balconies. What I did like was that these
structures formed a partial covering of my balcony which gave me some
nice shading - I have a very light complexion and skin cancer is always
a major concern for me. The inside of the cabin was pretty much
identical to the cabin on Constellation. Cookie cutter, with some minor
changes like the design of the closet area. The cabin had a mini
refrig.


Stability of the Ship
---------------------
Two words - Not Good. We were doing the Western Caribbean. The calmest
of all itineraries. The ship bounced all over the place, with the same
noticeable herky jerky back and forth motion as Ocean Princess. I give
her a Poor rating for stability.


Cleanliness
-----------
They're doing a nice job maintaining the ship so far. They're already
re-varnishing railings. For RCI they've gotten rid of much of the
Astroturf and are using the Celebrity type decking instead. Big
improvement. Hallway carpets are light colored and are showing stains
where people walk out of their cabins… so in front of every door is a
dark blotch in the carpeting. They really should use darker carpeting
on the ships. I give RCI good marks for cleanliness of the ship.

The one exception… the day we were anchored in Labadee, there was a
large collection of black greasy soot all over the back of the ship. It
was on the decking, the railings, the chairs, tables, even all over any
clothes or towels left out. I'm not sure if it came from the ship or
from the Haitians burning something on land. But it was pretty
disgusting. There were small particles (black on one side and brown on
the other side) and larger ones up to 1 inch in diameter. It would fall
apart when you picked it up, and leave a greasy black film on your
skin. They didn't do much of a job of cleaning it up - they just
eventually let it blow away. It kind of stays on the ship permanently
where ever it ends up once the wind blows it around. I saw remnants of
it from the previous cruise when I boarded the ship. It looks like
something that happens repeatedly, though that was the only time it
happened during our cruise.


Food
----

Buffet Food - TOP notch for RCI. I was very impressed. They had almost
everything that Celebrity and Princess have except for the
crepes/blintzes and orange slices… they even had smoked salmon though it
basically had no taste. There wasn't a good selection of pastries, but
they did have fresh made omelets. I rated the buffet among the better
ones I've seen. On the 1-10 scale… I give it a good honest 8.

Johnny Rockets - Lots of Fun. I had lunch there 3 afternoons. One of
my favorite places on the ship. On the 1-10 scale… a good honest 9.
LOVE the onion rings. And they give you a LARGE size beer or soda
there. For dessert they have wonderful apple pie and ice cream. Really
good pie. Light flaky crust. The real stuff. The burgers there are an
afterthought. One afternoon all I got was a big batch of onion rings
that I scoffed down on my balcony.

Dinner in Dining Room - here's where we do a quick change of direction.
Only one way to describe the dining room food: Atrocious. I had one
excellent meal during the week - the fillet mignon the second night.
Other than that, the food was a waste. Poor quality ingredients, steaks
that were blood red and still tough as leather, fish that was horrible
(I went against one of my cardinal rules… eat no seafood on RCI, NCL or
Carnival), pasta that was terrible, mushy shrimp that I had to
discretely "spit" out. Desserts were terrible. The tiramisu was
basically rubbery tasting. There was nothing real about it. It was
like plastic. "Vinyl". The one good dessert was the soufflé with Grand
Marnier sauce. One night I had the apple pie and ice cream… it was NO
WHERE near as good as the apple pie and ice cream at Johnny Rockets. On
a 1-10 scale… I'd be hard pressed to give dining room food any more than
a 2.

For what it's worth though… at Miami airport I talked with someone else
who was on the ship. You'd think we were on different ships. He said
it was the best dining room food he's had on over 50 Royal Caribbean
cruises. Different strokes. Maybe I'm just a lot more fussy than he
was.

Café promenade - had desserts and mini sandwiches 24x7. It replaces the
buffet for mini sandwiches in the afternoon.


Service
-------
Actually top notch. RCI is so well orchestrated that it's hard for them
to NOT give you good service.

Our Maitre d' was a waste though. He only visited once during the
week. I'd leave 80% of my dinner un-eaten and he never even bothered to
find out why. I gave the pre-paid voucher for his tip to the waiter
instead. I hope he can cash it in instead.

Our waiter always asked if he could get me something else instead, when
I didn't eat my dinner. But after a few days I think he just kind of
accepted that I wasn't going like the poor quality of food that they
were serving.

My cabin steward did a decent job.

In the Windjammer, they had lots of extra help. There are stations
where there are at least 50 glasses of orange juice, lemonade or water
lined up all the time. You never have to get your own juice like on
just about every other ship I've been on.

Cruise Director. I never met him until the last day (since I don't go
to shows), at a C&A Platinum meeting. His name is Jeff and he asked
where I was from. I said "Jersey". He said "Where?". I said "Central
Jersey". He asked what town and when I replied, he said that he grew up
the next town over. Small world.


The Shows
---------

Fred Travolina was the guest comedian. I watched about 5 minutes of his
show. He did a few California Gov. Aaahnold jokes and a few Michael
Jackson "oops I dropped a baby" jokes.

I also saw a few minutes of one of the ice shows - a guy took a tumble
doing a triple (at least I think it was a triple). I love hockey, but
not figure skating - just not my thing.


Caribbean Pool Party
--------------------
Held during the middle of the cruise (I'm too lazy now to look up the
exact night) but it wasn't well attended. Nothing like on Ocean
Princess when the whole deck was totally packed with people.


Captain's Reception
-------------------
It was held in the Royal Promenade. The Royal Promenade doesn't handle
2000 people well.


Ports
-----

Labadee - I took an early tender and took lots of pictures of the ship.
It was a cool day, so after an hour or so, I wasn't totally drained in
the heat like the last time we were there. I grabbed a lounge chair on
the ocean side of the peninsula and sat there for a while. I talked
with a couple, who I later had lunch with, and several days later
arranged to go to Chankanaab with. RCI has done a great job of stopping
the locals from hassling you all over the area. Two thumbs up for
that. The water did appear to be a little cleaner than the last time we
were there, but it still didn't have much visibility and I didn't see
any fish. Like a lot of people have said, it's a beach place not a
snorkeling place. I still have no reason to want to go back, but I
didn't hate it like I did last time I was there. CocoCay and Great
Stirrup Cay are still my favorites by far, for private islands.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica - I found a snorkeling excursion. We were taken by
boat to a reef that is actually only a few hundred yards from the ship.
The snorkeling wasn't great, but it was better than sitting on the ship,
or sitting on one of the beaches that don't have any reefs or fish. One
of the Fantasy class ships was in port with us.

Cayman - I booked Stingray City the "deep water" site. There are
actually 2 Stingray Cities, the original deep water site, and the newer
sand bar. Since I had alrady gone to the sand bar once before, I wanted
to try the other one. As I awoke, we heard announcements that all
Stingray City excursions were canceled due to the weather. It was windy
and a little on the rough side. I later heard that we came "that close"
to having Cayman canceled for all ships that day. Luckily it improved
in the afternoon, rather than getting worse. I packed my snorkel gear
and walked to Eden Rock. I got in the water and saw 4 huge tarpon
patrolling the area around the rock/coral steps into the water. Each
was 4-5 feet long. They would swim at you and if you didn't feed them
they'd just veer off to the side. Lots of smaller fish there as well.
I missed seeing the stingrays, but it was still a wonderful day, seeing
the tarpon.

We were in port with Grand Princess, Norwegian Sun and Carnival
Triumph. We didn't have an anchor chain that I could see from the
tender, so we might have been using the dynamic stabilization system to
keep us in place instead.

Cozumel - I went to Chankanaab with my friends from Labadee, some of
their friends, and a couple from our Viking group. Lots of fish
everywhere. We all had a great time. We walked around the lagoon to
see the iguanas. Some of the Viking group were going to one of the
other beaches but I wanted a place that I knew had reefs and lots of
fish.

In port with us were the Voyager (first time Navigator and Voyager were
in port together), Nordic Empress and Norwegian Wind at the Downtown
pier, and us, Veendam and one of the Fantasy ships at the International
Pier. Mickey needs to buy HAL some buckets of black and white paint.
Veendam looked very shabby. Flaking paint all over. We grabbed a XX
beer at the Sr. Frogs at the dock area.

Days at Sea - quiet for me. I read my book, a re-read of JRRT's Two
Towers/Lord of the Ring. I'm getting ready for the December release of
Return of the King. I tried to get a cell phone signal off the coast of
Key West (to check in with Linda and the kids) but had no luck.


Crown & Anchor Platinum/Diamond Lunch Get Together
--------------------------------------------------
On Friday, there was a lunch meeting of the C&A Platinum and Diamond
members in the Viking Crown Lounge. I met some guy who was Director of
Revenue and Marketing. We talked for a while. I told him how I was
extremely pleased with breakfast and lunch, but very disappointed with
dinner. He took a lot of notes. As I said before, that's also where I
met Jeff, the Cruise Director. The Captain spoke for a short while and
answered some questions.


Debarkation
-----------
I set my phone for a 7:30 wake up. They had already cleared everything
with the port and had begun calling color tags. I had the white color
tags (first off) for C&A Platinum, but waited until after I had
breakfast. By then they were to the red color tags. There was about a
10-15 minute to get off the ship, but about a 30 minute wait to clear
customs. After that it was a quick taxi ride ($20) to the airport.


Going Home
----------
Here's where it gets interesting.

During dinner the last evening we heard that New York / New Jersey were
getting hit with snow. I had flights that connected through Atlanta (I
was using an old ticket on Delta and there are no Miami to Newark
non-stop flights).

I got as far as Atlanta on Saturday, but all the flights to Newark had
already been canceled by the time I got to Atlanta. I spent the night
near the airport at the Marriott Courtyard for $55 per night, distressed
passenger rate. Not too bad. I was booked on a 2:30 flight from
Atlanta to Newark on Sunday. There were several earlier flights, but
rather than go standby and worry about luggage, the agent put me on the
2:30 flight with a reservation and seat assignment. Since I had
toiletries and my evening clothes from the last night in my carry on, I
opted to let them keep my 2 large bags. I washed the few pieces of
clothing I needed on Sunday at the hotel.

When I got to Newark my luggage had already arrived. Linda picked me up
at the airport and we were on the road within about 5 minutes after
arrival.


What I liked:
-------------
The buffet dining room - lots of dark wood for accent
Buffet food
Smoking restricted to certain areas - not simply all over the ship, or
limited to only one side of the ship. The ship is very smoke free.
Johnny Rockets
My aft facing balcony with the shade
The dining room interior design
2 Paintings (still lifes, with large blue backgrounds, starboard side,
aft staircase, about deck 8 or so IIRC)
Ice Cream self serve all over the ship
The promenade deck outside


What I didn't like:
-------------------
Royal Promenade
Dining Room food
Desserts
Long walks with the 2 "double" elevator/stairway banks at each end of
the Royal Promenade.
Light hallway carpeting showing dirty areas outside cabin doors.
Poor stability of the ship.
No "one place" which is "the place to hang out" like the Fleet Bar on
the Zenith.
With smoking restricted over much of the ship, places that do allow
smoking had a LOT of smoking going on. You couldn't even think of going
to those places if you didn't like smoking.
  #2  
Old December 9th, 2003, 05:26 AM
D Ball
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Navigator of the Seas - My Thoughts


Tom & Linda wrote:

I was part of Sue W's Viking Group on Navigator of the Seas. We sailed
November 29, 2003, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We were a group of
(I believe) 189 people.

Engineer. I'm analytical. I look at how things work. The concept of
"go with an open mind" is meaningless to me. I don't even understand
the concept.

Also, recognize that I'm a Celebrity and Princess fan. This cruise
reminded me of many of the reasons that we stopped sailing on RCI a good
5 years ago.

This collection of thoughts (it's not really a review) is about 90%
complete. I got tired of typing, and I didn't do a careful proofread.
So this is it. Any typos? Oh well. I focus mostly on the ship and
cruise experience, not our group, since most of the people here don't
know most of the people in the group.

--Tom


Flight Down
-----------

Effortless. Had a connecting flight through Atlanta. Pretty much all
on time. I flew down on Friday for our sailing on Saturday. I took a
taxi to the hotel.


Overnight in Miami
------------------

We stayed at the Radisson on Biscayne Blvd. Nothing to write home
about… but the group rate price was very reasonable. It was convenient
to the cruise docks.

After flying down, I decided to take a nap around 5:00 pm. We were
going to go to Bayside later that evening. I woke up at 7:00. Not pm.


7:00 am… the following morning. Talk about being exhausted.


Embarkation
-----------

Since we were part of a big group and had spent the previous night in
Miami, we had a bus pick us up at 10:00 am at the hotel. We were at the
dock by 10:30, after all the luggage was loaded on, and then unloaded
off the bus. With Crown & Anchor Platinum status, I was shown to a side
room adjacent to the big area where everyone stands in line, where my
paperwork was processed. I was on the ship within 5-10 minutes.


The Ship

--------

Since it's not a new class of ship, there's not much to tell that hasn't
been told before, but it was my first time on a Voyager class ship. So
I'll offer my impressions of the class of ship.

The Royal Promenade. OK, I'm probably the exception. I don't really
care for the Royal Promenade. I do like the 15 story atriums on most
ships. They are unique. You really mostly find them on ships. But a 3
story mall, we've got them all over the place. No Big deal. The Royal
Promenade might be unique on a ship, but there was nothing fundamentally
unique about it when we have malls that look like that every few miles
around here.

One thing I found interesting is that they have 2 sets of stairways,
port and starboard, at each end of the promenade. The ship is so wide
that you can do all kinds of different things like that. So instead of
one set of stairs, port and starboard each have their own set of stairs.

Much of the ship is smoke free. The restrict smokers to bars and other
places on the ship like that. I think that even outside, one side is
smoke free.

Where the Promenade ended in the aft, you have to walk around the stairs
that go to the lower level. You walk through a narrow area by the
champagne bar. That's one of the few places that allows smoking so you
either hold your breath or get a lung full of ciggy smoke as you walk
past.

Having only 2 elevator and stairway banks (at each end of the Royal
Promenade) for a ship that long meant a LOT of walking.

Bars are everywhere. Many are on the smaller side, like on Grand
Princess. Lots of different options, but also I got the feeling that
there were so many places to go that you never really developed any
"chemistry" with any one place on the ship. There was no "the place to
hang out" kind of place on the ship, like you get on many ships. Many
of the bars are very smoky.

The Dungeon - strange. Never went there other than looking around the
first day. Looks like something Farcus would design. Not my thing at
all.

The Dining Room - Very Attractive… if it wasn't for the food… more on
that later. Lots of dark colored wood like on Century.

The Windjammer. Best RCI Windjammer I've seen yet. Probably best
overall on all the ships I've seen in fact. LOTS of buffet station and
LOTS of tables and chairs. There are even Asian buffet stations on each
side of the ship before you even get to the Windjammer stations.

Casino - Gaudy. Tacky. Any Farcus sightings? Never spent any time
there other than as a walk through, to get to other areas.

Library - almost no books. Very small.

On-Line Internet Café - very nice, with all computers working.

Rock Climbing Wall - it was there but I never saw anyone anywhere near
it.

Hoops - there were always guys shooting hoops.

Solarium Pool - by definition isn't it supposed to have a cover? Well
it doesn't. What's the point of having a solarium pool without a
cover? There was almost no one ever there. To me, the best solariums
are ones like on Grandeur and Galaxy where the roof can be opened or
closed.

Ice Skating Rink - we had our group photo taken there. No signs of
Gretzky or Lafleur.

All the different places - I think it fragmented our group having that
many different places to go.


My Cabin
--------
I had one of the aft balcony cabins. The plus: the balcony was larger
than most. The minus: they are tiered and there is no privacy from
above. The person above you can see your entire balcony. There is a
unique characteristic on the Voyager class ships for these cabins, they
are not at the very back of the ship. Some circular metal structures
actually extend out past the balconies. What I did like was that these
structures formed a partial covering of my balcony which gave me some
nice shading - I have a very light complexion and skin cancer is always
a major concern for me. The inside of the cabin was pretty much
identical to the cabin on Constellation. Cookie cutter, with some minor
changes like the design of the closet area. The cabin had a mini
refrig.


Stability of the Ship
---------------------
Two words - Not Good. We were doing the Western Caribbean. The calmest
of all itineraries. The ship bounced all over the place, with the same
noticeable herky jerky back and forth motion as Ocean Princess. I give
her a Poor rating for stability.


Cleanliness
-----------
They're doing a nice job maintaining the ship so far. They're already
re-varnishing railings. For RCI they've gotten rid of much of the
Astroturf and are using the Celebrity type decking instead. Big
improvement. Hallway carpets are light colored and are showing stains
where people walk out of their cabins… so in front of every door is a
dark blotch in the carpeting. They really should use darker carpeting
on the ships. I give RCI good marks for cleanliness of the ship.

The one exception… the day we were anchored in Labadee, there was a
large collection of black greasy soot all over the back of the ship. It
was on the decking, the railings, the chairs, tables, even all over any
clothes or towels left out. I'm not sure if it came from the ship or
from the Haitians burning something on land. But it was pretty
disgusting. There were small particles (black on one side and brown on
the other side) and larger ones up to 1 inch in diameter. It would fall
apart when you picked it up, and leave a greasy black film on your
skin. They didn't do much of a job of cleaning it up - they just
eventually let it blow away. It kind of stays on the ship permanently
where ever it ends up once the wind blows it around. I saw remnants of
it from the previous cruise when I boarded the ship. It looks like
something that happens repeatedly, though that was the only time it
happened during our cruise.


Food
----

Buffet Food - TOP notch for RCI. I was very impressed. They had almost
everything that Celebrity and Princess have except for the
crepes/blintzes and orange slices… they even had smoked salmon though it
basically had no taste. There wasn't a good selection of pastries, but
they did have fresh made omelets. I rated the buffet among the better
ones I've seen. On the 1-10 scale… I give it a good honest 8.

Johnny Rockets - Lots of Fun. I had lunch there 3 afternoons. One of
my favorite places on the ship. On the 1-10 scale… a good honest 9.
LOVE the onion rings. And they give you a LARGE size beer or soda
there. For dessert they have wonderful apple pie and ice cream. Really
good pie. Light flaky crust. The real stuff. The burgers there are an
afterthought. One afternoon all I got was a big batch of onion rings
that I scoffed down on my balcony.

Dinner in Dining Room - here's where we do a quick change of direction.


Only one way to describe the dining room food: Atrocious. I had one
excellent meal during the week - the fillet mignon the second night.
Other than that, the food was a waste. Poor quality ingredients, steaks
that were blood red and still tough as leather, fish that was horrible
(I went against one of my cardinal rules… eat no seafood on RCI, NCL or
Carnival), pasta that was terrible, mushy shrimp that I had to
discretely "spit" out. Desserts were terrible. The tiramisu was
basically rubbery tasting. There was nothing real about it. It was
like plastic. "Vinyl". The one good dessert was the soufflé with Grand
Marnier sauce. One night I had the apple pie and ice cream… it was NO
WHERE near as good as the apple pie and ice cream at Johnny Rockets. On
a 1-10 scale… I'd be hard pressed to give dining room food any more than
a 2.

For what it's worth though… at Miami airport I talked with someone else
who was on the ship. You'd think we were on different ships. He said
it was the best dining room food he's had on over 50 Royal Caribbean
cruises. Different strokes. Maybe I'm just a lot more fussy than he
was.

Café promenade - had desserts and mini sandwiches 24x7. It replaces the
buffet for mini sandwiches in the afternoon.


Service
-------
Actually top notch. RCI is so well orchestrated that it's hard for them
to NOT give you good service.

Our Maitre d' was a waste though. He only visited once during the
week. I'd leave 80% of my dinner un-eaten and he never even bothered to
find out why. I gave the pre-paid voucher for his tip to the waiter
instead. I hope he can cash it in instead.

Our waiter always asked if he could get me something else instead, when
I didn't eat my dinner. But after a few days I think he just kind of
accepted that I wasn't going like the poor quality of food that they
were serving.

My cabin steward did a decent job.

In the Windjammer, they had lots of extra help. There are stations
where there are at least 50 glasses of orange juice, lemonade or water
lined up all the time. You never have to get your own juice like on
just about every other ship I've been on.

Cruise Director. I never met him until the last day (since I don't go
to shows), at a C&A Platinum meeting. His name is Jeff and he asked
where I was from. I said "Jersey". He said "Where?". I said "Central
Jersey". He asked what town and when I replied, he said that he grew up
the next town over. Small world.


The Shows
---------

Fred Travolina was the guest comedian. I watched about 5 minutes of his
show. He did a few California Gov. Aaahnold jokes and a few Michael
Jackson "oops I dropped a baby" jokes.

I also saw a few minutes of one of the ice shows - a guy took a tumble
doing a triple (at least I think it was a triple). I love hockey, but
not figure skating - just not my thing.


Caribbean Pool Party
--------------------
Held during the middle of the cruise (I'm too lazy now to look up the
exact night) but it wasn't well attended. Nothing like on Ocean
Princess when the whole deck was totally packed with people.


Captain's Reception
-------------------
It was held in the Royal Promenade. The Royal Promenade doesn't handle
2000 people well.


Ports
-----

Labadee - I took an early tender and took lots of pictures of the ship.


It was a cool day, so after an hour or so, I wasn't totally drained in
the heat like the last time we were there. I grabbed a lounge chair on
the ocean side of the peninsula and sat there for a while. I talked
with a couple, who I later had lunch with, and several days later
arranged to go to Chankanaab with. RCI has done a great job of stopping
the locals from hassling you all over the area. Two thumbs up for
that. The water did appear to be a little cleaner than the last time we
were there, but it still didn't have much visibility and I didn't see
any fish. Like a lot of people have said, it's a beach place not a
snorkeling place. I still have no reason to want to go back, but I
didn't hate it like I did last time I was there. CocoCay and Great
Stirrup Cay are still my favorites by far, for private islands.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica - I found a snorkeling excursion. We were taken by
boat to a reef that is actually only a few hundred yards from the ship.


The snorkeling wasn't great, but it was better than sitting on the ship,
or sitting on one of the beaches that don't have any reefs or fish. One
of the Fantasy class ships was in port with us.

Cayman - I booked Stingray City the "deep water" site. There are
actually 2 Stingray Cities, the original deep water site, and the newer
sand bar. Since I had alrady gone to the sand bar once before, I wanted
to try the other one. As I awoke, we heard announcements that all
Stingray City excursions were canceled due to the weather. It was windy
and a little on the rough side. I later heard that we came "that close"
to having Cayman canceled for all ships that day. Luckily it improved
in the afternoon, rather than getting worse. I packed my snorkel gear
and walked to Eden Rock. I got in the water and saw 4 huge tarpon
patrolling the area around the rock/coral steps into the water. Each
was 4-5 feet long. They would swim at you and if you didn't feed them
they'd just veer off to the side. Lots of smaller fish there as well.
I missed seeing the stingrays, but it was still a wonderful day, seeing
the tarpon.

We were in port with Grand Princess, Norwegian Sun and Carnival
Triumph. We didn't have an anchor chain that I could see from the
tender, so we might have been using the dynamic stabilization system to
keep us in place instead.

Cozumel - I went to Chankanaab with my friends from Labadee, some of
their friends, and a couple from our Viking group. Lots of fish
everywhere. We all had a great time. We walked around the lagoon to
see the iguanas. Some of the Viking group were going to one of the
other beaches but I wanted a place that I knew had reefs and lots of
fish.

In port with us were the Voyager (first time Navigator and Voyager were
in port together), Nordic Empress and Norwegian Wind at the Downtown
pier, and us, Veendam and one of the Fantasy ships at the International
Pier. Mickey needs to buy HAL some buckets of black and white paint.
Veendam looked very shabby. Flaking paint all over. We grabbed a XX
beer at the Sr. Frogs at the dock area.

Days at Sea - quiet for me. I read my book, a re-read of JRRT's Two
Towers/Lord of the Ring. I'm getting ready for the December release of
Return of the King. I tried to get a cell phone signal off the coast of
Key West (to check in with Linda and the kids) but had no luck.


Crown & Anchor Platinum/Diamond Lunch Get Together
--------------------------------------------------
On Friday, there was a lunch meeting of the C&A Platinum and Diamond
members in the Viking Crown Lounge. I met some guy who was Director of
Revenue and Marketing. We talked for a while. I told him how I was
extremely pleased with breakfast and lunch, but very disappointed with
dinner. He took a lot of notes. As I said before, that's also where I
met Jeff, the Cruise Director. The Captain spoke for a short while and
answered some questions.


Debarkation
-----------
I set my phone for a 7:30 wake up. They had already cleared everything
with the port and had begun calling color tags. I had the white color
tags (first off) for C&A Platinum, but waited until after I had
breakfast. By then they were to the red color tags. There was about a
10-15 minute to get off the ship, but about a 30 minute wait to clear
customs. After that it was a quick taxi ride ($20) to the airport.


Going Home
----------
Here's where it gets interesting.

During dinner the last evening we heard that New York / New Jersey were
getting hit with snow. I had flights that connected through Atlanta (I
was using an old ticket on Delta and there are no Miami to Newark
non-stop flights).

I got as far as Atlanta on Saturday, but all the flights to Newark had
already been canceled by the time I got to Atlanta. I spent the night
near the airport at the Marriott Courtyard for $55 per night, distressed
passenger rate. Not too bad. I was booked on a 2:30 flight from
Atlanta to Newark on Sunday. There were several earlier flights, but
rather than go standby and worry about luggage, the agent put me on the
2:30 flight with a reservation and seat assignment. Since I had
toiletries and my evening clothes from the last night in my carry on, I
opted to let them keep my 2 large bags. I washed the few pieces of
clothing I needed on Sunday at the hotel.

When I got to Newark my luggage had already arrived. Linda picked me up
at the airport and we were on the road within about 5 minutes after
arrival.


What I liked:
-------------
The buffet dining room - lots of dark wood for accent
Buffet food
Smoking restricted to certain areas - not simply all over the ship, or
limited to only one side of the ship. The ship is very smoke free.
Johnny Rockets
My aft facing balcony with the shade
The dining room interior design
2 Paintings (still lifes, with large blue backgrounds, starboard side,
aft staircase, about deck 8 or so IIRC)
Ice Cream self serve all over the ship
The promenade deck outside


What I didn't like:
-------------------
Royal Promenade
Dining Room food
Desserts
Long walks with the 2 "double" elevator/stairway banks at each end of
the Royal Promenade.
Light hallway carpeting showing dirty areas outside cabin doors.
Poor stability of the ship.
No "one place" which is "the place to hang out" like the Fleet Bar on
the Zenith.
With smoking restricted over much of the ship, places that do allow
smoking had a LOT of smoking going on. You couldn't even think of going
to those places if you didn't like smoking.


  #3  
Old December 9th, 2003, 05:58 AM
D Ball
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Posts: n/a
Default Navigator of the Seas - My Thoughts


(Oops. The prior post was a boo boo. I'm sitting in bed w/ my laptop & usually
just surf with it because when I type, I "smoosh" the keyboard and hit all
of the wrong buttons.)

Tom, enjoyed your "review" a lot. Sounds like you got in some good snorkeling
and fun times! I was bummed to hear you got weathered out of doing the "deep"
Stingray City--I wanted to hear about it. We had the best moray eel adventure
ever along the reef there....

I share many of your thoughts about RCI. Food is a big thing with us, and
yes, the dining room food is only so-so (although I've never felt it was
so bad as you experienced), but the buffet food is suprisingly good. And
you must be onto something stability. I am reminded of thinking the Explorer
was an unusually rough ride, and I hear people complaining that the new Mariner
(which we board for Christms week) is a "rock 'n roller." I agree, a solarium
should have a retractable roof. I am thinking it did have the roof on the
Explorer? I know the Mariner tracks the Navigator in most ways and doesn't
have the roof. Pity.

But, no surprise, we differ about a few things. We think RCI has the best
entertainment of the lines we've tried so far. I think the Schooner bar is
always "the" place to hang out--we like singing along at the piano bar and
never fail to make friends among the "regulars" who hang out there throughout
the cruise. I love the Voyager-class discos and the Promenade. We always
climb the rock wall...and always have to wait in line!

To each his/her own.

Say, we're trying our first aft-facing balcony this trip. We're on deck nine
(this is the Mariner), one over from the starboard corner. I'm pretty psyched
to hear your "thumbs up" report, except that I'm fair, too, so may have to
devise some shade avoidance. Have you ever brought--or seen anyone else bring--your
own sunbrella?

Glad you made it home safely. We were all concerned.

Best regards,

Diana Ball
near Houston, TX
--- not even ready, but celebrating Christmas on the Mariner eff. 12/19
flight out of Texas!


Sorry, I can't figure out how to snip all of this except manually....I didn't
think I was so laptop-challenged, LOL

turday after Thanksgiving. We were a group of
(I believe) 189 people.

Engineer. I'm analytical. I look at how things work. The concept of
"go with an open mind" is meaningless to me. I don't even understand
the concept.

Also, recognize that I'm a Celebrity and Princess fan. This cruise
reminded me of many of the reasons that we stopped sailing on RCI a good
5 years ago.

This collection of thoughts (it's not really a review) is about 90%
complete. I got tired of typing, and I didn't do a careful proofread.
So this is it. Any typos? Oh well. I focus mostly on the ship and
cruise experience, not our group, since most of the people here don't
know most of the people in the group.

--Tom


Flight Down
-----------

Effortless. Had a connecting flight through Atlanta. Pretty much all
on time. I flew down on Friday for our sailing on Saturday. I took a
taxi to the hotel.


Overnight in Miami
------------------

We stayed at the Radisson on Biscayne Blvd. Nothing to write home
about… but the group rate price was very reasonable. It was convenient
to the cruise docks.

After flying down, I decided to take a nap around 5:00 pm. We were
going to go to Bayside later that evening. I woke up at 7:00. Not pm.


7:00 am… the following morning. Talk about being exhausted.


Embarkation
-----------

Since we were part of a big group and had spent the previous night in
Miami, we had a bus pick us up at 10:00 am at the hotel. We were at the
dock by 10:30, after all the luggage was loaded on, and then unloaded
off the bus. With Crown & Anchor Platinum status, I was shown to a side
room adjacent to the big area where everyone stands in line, where my
paperwork was processed. I was on the ship within 5-10 minutes.


The Ship

--------

Since it's not a new class of ship, there's not much to tell that hasn't
been told before, but it was my first time on a Voyager class ship. So
I'll offer my impressions of the class of ship.

The Royal Promenade. OK, I'm probably the exception. I don't really
care for the Royal Promenade. I do like the 15 story atriums on most
ships. They are unique. You really mostly find them on ships. But a 3
story mall, we've got them all over the place. No Big deal. The Royal
Promenade might be unique on a ship, but there was nothing fundamentally
unique about it when we have malls that look like that every few miles
around here.

One thing I found interesting is that they have 2 sets of stairways,
port and starboard, at each end of the promenade. The ship is so wide
that you can do all kinds of different things like that. So instead of
one set of stairs, port and starboard each have their own set of stairs.

Much of the ship is smoke free. The restrict smokers to bars and other
places on the ship like that. I think that even outside, one side is
smoke free.

Where the Promenade ended in the aft, you have to walk around the stairs
that go to the lower level. You walk through a narrow area by the
champagne bar. That's one of the few places that allows smoking so you
either hold your breath or get a lung full of ciggy smoke as you walk
past.

Having only 2 elevator and stairway banks (at each end of the Royal
Promenade) for a ship that long meant a LOT of walking.

Bars are everywhere. Many are on the smaller side, like on Grand
Princess. Lots of different options, but also I got the feeling that
there were so many places to go that you never really developed any
"chemistry" with any one place on the ship. There was no "the place to
hang out" kind of place on the ship, like you get on many ships. Many
of the bars are very smoky.

The Dungeon - strange. Never went there other than looking around the
first day. Looks like something Farcus would design. Not my thing at
all.

The Dining Room - Very Attractive… if it wasn't for the food… more on
that later. Lots of dark colored wood like on Century.

The Windjammer. Best RCI Windjammer I've seen yet. Probably best
overall on all the ships I've seen in fact. LOTS of buffet station and
LOTS of tables and chairs. There are even Asian buffet stations on each
side of the ship before you even get to the Windjammer stations.

Casino - Gaudy. Tacky. Any Farcus sightings? Never spent any time
there other than as a walk through, to get to other areas.

Library - almost no books. Very small.

On-Line Internet Café - very nice, with all computers working.

Rock Climbing Wall - it was there but I never saw anyone anywhere near
it.

Hoops - there were always guys shooting hoops.

Solarium Pool - by definition isn't it supposed to have a cover? Well
it doesn't. What's the point of having a solarium pool without a
cover? There was almost no one ever there. To me, the best solariums
are ones like on Grandeur and Galaxy where the roof can be opened or
closed.

Ice Skating Rink - we had our group photo taken there. No signs of
Gretzky or Lafleur.

All the different places - I think it fragmented our group having that
many different places to go.


My Cabin
--------
I had one of the aft balcony cabins. The plus: the balcony was larger
than most. The minus: they are tiered and there is no privacy from
above. The person above you can see your entire balcony. There is a
unique characteristic on the Voyager class ships for these cabins, they
are not at the very back of the ship. Some circular metal structures
actually extend out past the balconies. What I did like was that these
structures formed a partial covering of my balcony which gave me some
nice shading - I have a very light complexion and skin cancer is always
a major concern for me. The inside of the cabin was pretty much
identical to the cabin on Constellation. Cookie cutter, with some minor
changes like the design of the closet area. The cabin had a mini
refrig.


Stability of the Ship
---------------------
Two words - Not Good. We were doing the Western Caribbean. The calmest
of all itineraries. The ship bounced all over the place, with the same
noticeable herky jerky back and forth motion as Ocean Princess. I give
her a Poor rating for stability.


Cleanliness
-----------
They're doing a nice job maintaining the ship so far. They're already
re-varnishing railings. For RCI they've gotten rid of much of the
Astroturf and are using the Celebrity type decking instead. Big
improvement. Hallway carpets are light colored and are showing stains
where people walk out of their cabins… so in front of every door is a
dark blotch in the carpeting. They really should use darker carpeting
on the ships. I give RCI good marks for cleanliness of the ship.

The one exception… the day we were anchored in Labadee, there was a
large collection of black greasy soot all over the back of the ship. It
was on the decking, the railings, the chairs, tables, even all over any
clothes or towels left out. I'm not sure if it came from the ship or
from the Haitians burning something on land. But it was pretty
disgusting. There were small particles (black on one side and brown on
the other side) and larger ones up to 1 inch in diameter. It would fall
apart when you picked it up, and leave a greasy black film on your
skin. They didn't do much of a job of cleaning it up - they just
eventually let it blow away. It kind of stays on the ship permanently
where ever it ends up once the wind blows it around. I saw remnants of
it from the previous cruise when I boarded the ship. It looks like
something that happens repeatedly, though that was the only time it
happened during our cruise.


Food
----

Buffet Food - TOP notch for RCI. I was very impressed. They had almost
everything that Celebrity and Princess have except for the
crepes/blintzes and orange slices… they even had smoked salmon though it
basically had no taste. There wasn't a good selection of pastries, but
they did have fresh made omelets. I rated the buffet among the better
ones I've seen. On the 1-10 scale… I give it a good honest 8.

Johnny Rockets - Lots of Fun. I had lunch there 3 afternoons. One of
my favorite places on the ship. On the 1-10 scale… a good honest 9.
LOVE the onion rings. And they give you a LARGE size beer or soda
there. For dessert they have wonderful apple pie and ice cream. Really
good pie. Light flaky crust. The real stuff. The burgers there are an
afterthought. One afternoon all I got was a big batch of onion rings
that I scoffed down on my balcony.

Dinner in Dining Room - here's where we do a quick change of direction.


Only one way to describe the dining room food: Atrocious. I had one
excellent meal during the week - the fillet mignon the second night.
Other than that, the food was a waste. Poor quality ingredients, steaks
that were blood red and still tough as leather, fish that was horrible
(I went against one of my cardinal rules… eat no seafood on RCI, NCL or
Carnival), pasta that was terrible, mushy shrimp that I had to
discretely "spit" out. Desserts were terrible. The tiramisu was
basically rubbery tasting. There was nothing real about it. It was
like plastic. "Vinyl". The one good dessert was the soufflé with Grand
Marnier sauce. One night I had the apple pie and ice cream… it was NO
WHERE near as good as the apple pie and ice cream at Johnny Rockets. On
a 1-10 scale… I'd be hard pressed to give dining room food any more than
a 2.

For what it's worth though… at Miami airport I talked with someone else
who was on the ship. You'd think we were on different ships. He said
it was the best dining room food he's had on over 50 Royal Caribbean
cruises. Different strokes. Maybe I'm just a lot more fussy than he
was.

Café promenade - had desserts and mini sandwiches 24x7. It replaces the
buffet for mini sandwiches in the afternoon.


Service
-------
Actually top notch. RCI is so well orchestrated that it's hard for them
to NOT give you good service.

Our Maitre d' was a waste though. He only visited once during the
week. I'd leave 80% of my dinner un-eaten and he never even bothered to
find out why. I gave the pre-paid voucher for his tip to the waiter
instead. I hope he can cash it in instead.

Our waiter always asked if he could get me something else instead, when
I didn't eat my dinner. But after a few days I think he just kind of
accepted that I wasn't going like the poor quality of food that they
were serving.

My cabin steward did a decent job.

In the Windjammer, they had lots of extra help. There are stations
where there are at least 50 glasses of orange juice, lemonade or water
lined up all the time. You never have to get your own juice like on
just about every other ship I've been on.

Cruise Director. I never met him until the last day (since I don't go
to shows), at a C&A Platinum meeting. His name is Jeff and he asked
where I was from. I said "Jersey". He said "Where?". I said "Central
Jersey". He asked what town and when I replied, he said that he grew up
the next town over. Small world.


The Shows
---------

Fred Travolina was the guest comedian. I watched about 5 minutes of his
show. He did a few California Gov. Aaahnold jokes and a few Michael
Jackson "oops I dropped a baby" jokes.

I also saw a few minutes of one of the ice shows - a guy took a tumble
doing a triple (at least I think it was a triple). I love hockey, but
not figure skating - just not my thing.


Caribbean Pool Party
--------------------
Held during the middle of the cruise (I'm too lazy now to look up the
exact night) but it wasn't well attended. Nothing like on Ocean
Princess when the whole deck was totally packed with people.


Captain's Reception
-------------------
It was held in the Royal Promenade. The Royal Promenade doesn't handle
2000 people well.


Ports
-----

Labadee - I took an early tender and took lots of pictures of the ship.


It was a cool day, so after an hour or so, I wasn't totally drained in
the heat like the last time we were there. I grabbed a lounge chair on
the ocean side of the peninsula and sat there for a while. I talked
with a couple, who I later had lunch with, and several days later
arranged to go to Chankanaab with. RCI has done a great job of stopping
the locals from hassling you all over the area. Two thumbs up for
that. The water did appear to be a little cleaner than the last time we
were there, but it still didn't have much visibility and I didn't see
any fish. Like a lot of people have said, it's a beach place not a
snorkeling place. I still have no reason to want to go back, but I
didn't hate it like I did last time I was there. CocoCay and Great
Stirrup Cay are still my favorites by far, for private islands.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica - I found a snorkeling excursion. We were taken by
boat to a reef that is actually only a few hundred yards from the ship.


The snorkeling wasn't great, but it was better than sitting on the ship,
or sitting on one of the beaches that don't have any reefs or fish. One
of the Fantasy class ships was in port with us.

Cayman - I booked Stingray City the "deep water" site. There are
actually 2 Stingray Cities, the original deep water site, and the newer
sand bar. Since I had alrady gone to the sand bar once before, I wanted
to try the other one. As I awoke, we heard announcements that all
Stingray City excursions were canceled due to the weather. It was windy
and a little on the rough side. I later heard that we came "that close"
to having Cayman canceled for all ships that day. Luckily it improved
in the afternoon, rather than getting worse. I packed my snorkel gear
and walked to Eden Rock. I got in the water and saw 4 huge tarpon
patrolling the area around the rock/coral steps into the water. Each
was 4-5 feet long. They would swim at you and if you didn't feed them
they'd just veer off to the side. Lots of smaller fish there as well.
I missed seeing the stingrays, but it was still a wonderful day, seeing
the tarpon.

We were in port with Grand Princess, Norwegian Sun and Carnival
Triumph. We didn't have an anchor chain that I could see from the
tender, so we might have been using the dynamic stabilization system to
keep us in place instead.

Cozumel - I went to Chankanaab with my friends from Labadee, some of
their friends, and a couple from our Viking group. Lots of fish
everywhere. We all had a great time. We walked around the lagoon to
see the iguanas. Some of the Viking group were going to one of the
other beaches but I wanted a place that I knew had reefs and lots of
fish.

In port with us were the Voyager (first time Navigator and Voyager were
in port together), Nordic Empress and Norwegian Wind at the Downtown
pier, and us, Veendam and one of the Fantasy ships at the International
Pier. Mickey needs to buy HAL some buckets of black and white paint.
Veendam looked very shabby. Flaking paint all over. We grabbed a XX
beer at the Sr. Frogs at the dock area.

Days at Sea - quiet for me. I read my book, a re-read of JRRT's Two
Towers/Lord of the Ring. I'm getting ready for the December release of
Return of the King. I tried to get a cell phone signal off the coast of
Key West (to check in with Linda and the kids) but had no luck.


Crown & Anchor Platinum/Diamond Lunch Get Together
--------------------------------------------------
On Friday, there was a lunch meeting of the C&A Platinum and Diamond
members in the Viking Crown Lounge. I met some guy who was Director of
Revenue and Marketing. We talked for a while. I told him how I was
extremely pleased with breakfast and lunch, but very disappointed with
dinner. He took a lot of notes. As I said before, that's also where I
met Jeff, the Cruise Director. The Captain spoke for a short while and
answered some questions.


Debarkation
-----------
I set my phone for a 7:30 wake up. They had already cleared everything
with the port and had begun calling color tags. I had the white color
tags (first off) for C&A Platinum, but waited until after I had
breakfast. By then they were to the red color tags. There was about a
10-15 minute to get off the ship, but about a 30 minute wait to clear
customs. After that it was a quick taxi ride ($20) to the airport.


Going Home
----------
Here's where it gets interesting.

During dinner the last evening we heard that New York / New Jersey were
getting hit with snow. I had flights that connected through Atlanta (I
was using an old ticket on Delta and there are no Miami to Newark
non-stop flights).

I got as far as Atlanta on Saturday, but all the flights to Newark had
already been canceled by the time I got to Atlanta. I spent the night
near the airport at the Marriott Courtyard for $55 per night, distressed
passenger rate. Not too bad. I was booked on a 2:30 flight from
Atlanta to Newark on Sunday. There were several earlier flights, but
rather than go standby and worry about luggage, the agent put me on the
2:30 flight with a reservation and seat assignment. Since I had
toiletries and my evening clothes from the last night in my carry on, I
opted to let them keep my 2 large bags. I washed the few pieces of
clothing I needed on Sunday at the hotel.

When I got to Newark my luggage had already arrived. Linda picked me up
at the airport and we were on the road within about 5 minutes after
arrival.


What I liked:
-------------
The buffet dining room - lots of dark wood for accent
Buffet food
Smoking restricted to certain areas - not simply all over the ship, or
limited to only one side of the ship. The ship is very smoke free.
Johnny Rockets
My aft facing balcony with the shade
The dining room interior design
2 Paintings (still lifes, with large blue backgrounds, starboard side,
aft staircase, about deck 8 or so IIRC)
Ice Cream self serve all over the ship
The promenade deck outside


What I didn't like:
-------------------
Royal Promenade
Dining Room food
Desserts
Long walks with the 2 "double" elevator/stairway banks at each end of
the Royal Promenade.
Light hallway carpeting showing dirty areas outside cabin doors.
Poor stability of the ship.
No "one place" which is "the place to hang out" like the Fleet Bar on
the Zenith.
With smoking restricted over much of the ship, places that do allow
smoking had a LOT of smoking going on. You couldn't even think of going
to those places if you didn't like smoking.


  #4  
Old December 9th, 2003, 10:25 AM
Charles
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Default Navigator of the Seas - My Thoughts

In article , Tom & Linda
wrote:

No "one place" which is "the place to hang out" like the Fleet Bar on
the Zenith.


On the two Voyager class ships I was on there were hang out places. I
can think of the Schooner Bar, the sports type bar in the Viking
lounge, and the jazz area in the Viking lounge, plus the disco.

--
Charles
  #5  
Old December 9th, 2003, 11:59 AM
Benjamin Smith
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Default Navigator of the Seas - My Thoughts

Interesting perspective, Tom. I, also, don't think the Royal Promenade
is a big deal and looks mall like (I think it is more the novelty of it
than the design that had so many impressed with it). I also don't find
that the rock climbing wall is anything other than just part of the deck
sports activity. Regarding cabins, Connie has more storage area and
larger showers.

Thanks for review.

Ben


Tom & Linda wrote:
I was part of Sue W's Viking Group on Navigator of the Seas. We sailed
November 29, 2003, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We were a group of
(I believe) 189 people.

My initial thoughts and observations follow. Remember, I'm an
Engineer. I'm analytical. I look at how things work. The concept of
"go with an open mind" is meaningless to me. I don't even understand
the concept.

Also, recognize that I'm a Celebrity and Princess fan. This cruise
reminded me of many of the reasons that we stopped sailing on RCI a good
5 years ago.

This collection of thoughts (it's not really a review) is about 90%
complete. I got tired of typing, and I didn't do a careful proofread.
So this is it. Any typos? Oh well. I focus mostly on the ship and
cruise experience, not our group, since most of the people here don't
know most of the people in the group.

--Tom


Flight Down
-----------

Effortless. Had a connecting flight through Atlanta. Pretty much all
on time. I flew down on Friday for our sailing on Saturday. I took a
taxi to the hotel.


Overnight in Miami
------------------

We stayed at the Radisson on Biscayne Blvd. Nothing to write home
about… but the group rate price was very reasonable. It was convenient
to the cruise docks.

After flying down, I decided to take a nap around 5:00 pm. We were
going to go to Bayside later that evening. I woke up at 7:00. Not pm.
7:00 am… the following morning. Talk about being exhausted.


Embarkation
-----------

Since we were part of a big group and had spent the previous night in
Miami, we had a bus pick us up at 10:00 am at the hotel. We were at the
dock by 10:30, after all the luggage was loaded on, and then unloaded
off the bus. With Crown & Anchor Platinum status, I was shown to a side
room adjacent to the big area where everyone stands in line, where my
paperwork was processed. I was on the ship within 5-10 minutes.


The Ship

--------

Since it's not a new class of ship, there's not much to tell that hasn't
been told before, but it was my first time on a Voyager class ship. So
I'll offer my impressions of the class of ship.

The Royal Promenade. OK, I'm probably the exception. I don't really
care for the Royal Promenade. I do like the 15 story atriums on most
ships. They are unique. You really mostly find them on ships. But a 3
story mall, we've got them all over the place. No Big deal. The Royal
Promenade might be unique on a ship, but there was nothing fundamentally
unique about it when we have malls that look like that every few miles
around here.

One thing I found interesting is that they have 2 sets of stairways,
port and starboard, at each end of the promenade. The ship is so wide
that you can do all kinds of different things like that. So instead of
one set of stairs, port and starboard each have their own set of stairs.

Much of the ship is smoke free. The restrict smokers to bars and other
places on the ship like that. I think that even outside, one side is
smoke free.

Where the Promenade ended in the aft, you have to walk around the stairs
that go to the lower level. You walk through a narrow area by the
champagne bar. That's one of the few places that allows smoking so you
either hold your breath or get a lung full of ciggy smoke as you walk
past.

Having only 2 elevator and stairway banks (at each end of the Royal
Promenade) for a ship that long meant a LOT of walking.

Bars are everywhere. Many are on the smaller side, like on Grand
Princess. Lots of different options, but also I got the feeling that
there were so many places to go that you never really developed any
"chemistry" with any one place on the ship. There was no "the place to
hang out" kind of place on the ship, like you get on many ships. Many
of the bars are very smoky.

The Dungeon - strange. Never went there other than looking around the
first day. Looks like something Farcus would design. Not my thing at
all.

The Dining Room - Very Attractive… if it wasn't for the food… more on
that later. Lots of dark colored wood like on Century.

The Windjammer. Best RCI Windjammer I've seen yet. Probably best
overall on all the ships I've seen in fact. LOTS of buffet station and
LOTS of tables and chairs. There are even Asian buffet stations on each
side of the ship before you even get to the Windjammer stations.

Casino - Gaudy. Tacky. Any Farcus sightings? Never spent any time
there other than as a walk through, to get to other areas.

Library - almost no books. Very small.

On-Line Internet Café - very nice, with all computers working.

Rock Climbing Wall - it was there but I never saw anyone anywhere near
it.

Hoops - there were always guys shooting hoops.

Solarium Pool - by definition isn't it supposed to have a cover? Well
it doesn't. What's the point of having a solarium pool without a
cover? There was almost no one ever there. To me, the best solariums
are ones like on Grandeur and Galaxy where the roof can be opened or
closed.

Ice Skating Rink - we had our group photo taken there. No signs of
Gretzky or Lafleur.

All the different places - I think it fragmented our group having that
many different places to go.


My Cabin
--------
I had one of the aft balcony cabins. The plus: the balcony was larger
than most. The minus: they are tiered and there is no privacy from
above. The person above you can see your entire balcony. There is a
unique characteristic on the Voyager class ships for these cabins, they
are not at the very back of the ship. Some circular metal structures
actually extend out past the balconies. What I did like was that these
structures formed a partial covering of my balcony which gave me some
nice shading - I have a very light complexion and skin cancer is always
a major concern for me. The inside of the cabin was pretty much
identical to the cabin on Constellation. Cookie cutter, with some minor
changes like the design of the closet area. The cabin had a mini
refrig.


Stability of the Ship
---------------------
Two words - Not Good. We were doing the Western Caribbean. The calmest
of all itineraries. The ship bounced all over the place, with the same
noticeable herky jerky back and forth motion as Ocean Princess. I give
her a Poor rating for stability.


Cleanliness
-----------
They're doing a nice job maintaining the ship so far. They're already
re-varnishing railings. For RCI they've gotten rid of much of the
Astroturf and are using the Celebrity type decking instead. Big
improvement. Hallway carpets are light colored and are showing stains
where people walk out of their cabins… so in front of every door is a
dark blotch in the carpeting. They really should use darker carpeting
on the ships. I give RCI good marks for cleanliness of the ship.

The one exception… the day we were anchored in Labadee, there was a
large collection of black greasy soot all over the back of the ship. It
was on the decking, the railings, the chairs, tables, even all over any
clothes or towels left out. I'm not sure if it came from the ship or
from the Haitians burning something on land. But it was pretty
disgusting. There were small particles (black on one side and brown on
the other side) and larger ones up to 1 inch in diameter. It would fall
apart when you picked it up, and leave a greasy black film on your
skin. They didn't do much of a job of cleaning it up - they just
eventually let it blow away. It kind of stays on the ship permanently
where ever it ends up once the wind blows it around. I saw remnants of
it from the previous cruise when I boarded the ship. It looks like
something that happens repeatedly, though that was the only time it
happened during our cruise.


Food
----

Buffet Food - TOP notch for RCI. I was very impressed. They had almost
everything that Celebrity and Princess have except for the
crepes/blintzes and orange slices… they even had smoked salmon though it
basically had no taste. There wasn't a good selection of pastries, but
they did have fresh made omelets. I rated the buffet among the better
ones I've seen. On the 1-10 scale… I give it a good honest 8.

Johnny Rockets - Lots of Fun. I had lunch there 3 afternoons. One of
my favorite places on the ship. On the 1-10 scale… a good honest 9.
LOVE the onion rings. And they give you a LARGE size beer or soda
there. For dessert they have wonderful apple pie and ice cream. Really
good pie. Light flaky crust. The real stuff. The burgers there are an
afterthought. One afternoon all I got was a big batch of onion rings
that I scoffed down on my balcony.

Dinner in Dining Room - here's where we do a quick change of direction.
Only one way to describe the dining room food: Atrocious. I had one
excellent meal during the week - the fillet mignon the second night.
Other than that, the food was a waste. Poor quality ingredients, steaks
that were blood red and still tough as leather, fish that was horrible
(I went against one of my cardinal rules… eat no seafood on RCI, NCL or
Carnival), pasta that was terrible, mushy shrimp that I had to
discretely "spit" out. Desserts were terrible. The tiramisu was
basically rubbery tasting. There was nothing real about it. It was
like plastic. "Vinyl". The one good dessert was the soufflé with Grand
Marnier sauce. One night I had the apple pie and ice cream… it was NO
WHERE near as good as the apple pie and ice cream at Johnny Rockets. On
a 1-10 scale… I'd be hard pressed to give dining room food any more than
a 2.

For what it's worth though… at Miami airport I talked with someone else
who was on the ship. You'd think we were on different ships. He said
it was the best dining room food he's had on over 50 Royal Caribbean
cruises. Different strokes. Maybe I'm just a lot more fussy than he
was.

Café promenade - had desserts and mini sandwiches 24x7. It replaces the
buffet for mini sandwiches in the afternoon.


Service
-------
Actually top notch. RCI is so well orchestrated that it's hard for them
to NOT give you good service.

Our Maitre d' was a waste though. He only visited once during the
week. I'd leave 80% of my dinner un-eaten and he never even bothered to
find out why. I gave the pre-paid voucher for his tip to the waiter
instead. I hope he can cash it in instead.

Our waiter always asked if he could get me something else instead, when
I didn't eat my dinner. But after a few days I think he just kind of
accepted that I wasn't going like the poor quality of food that they
were serving.

My cabin steward did a decent job.

In the Windjammer, they had lots of extra help. There are stations
where there are at least 50 glasses of orange juice, lemonade or water
lined up all the time. You never have to get your own juice like on
just about every other ship I've been on.

Cruise Director. I never met him until the last day (since I don't go
to shows), at a C&A Platinum meeting. His name is Jeff and he asked
where I was from. I said "Jersey". He said "Where?". I said "Central
Jersey". He asked what town and when I replied, he said that he grew up
the next town over. Small world.


The Shows
---------

Fred Travolina was the guest comedian. I watched about 5 minutes of his
show. He did a few California Gov. Aaahnold jokes and a few Michael
Jackson "oops I dropped a baby" jokes.

I also saw a few minutes of one of the ice shows - a guy took a tumble
doing a triple (at least I think it was a triple). I love hockey, but
not figure skating - just not my thing.


Caribbean Pool Party
--------------------
Held during the middle of the cruise (I'm too lazy now to look up the
exact night) but it wasn't well attended. Nothing like on Ocean
Princess when the whole deck was totally packed with people.


Captain's Reception
-------------------
It was held in the Royal Promenade. The Royal Promenade doesn't handle
2000 people well.


Ports
-----

Labadee - I took an early tender and took lots of pictures of the ship.
It was a cool day, so after an hour or so, I wasn't totally drained in
the heat like the last time we were there. I grabbed a lounge chair on
the ocean side of the peninsula and sat there for a while. I talked
with a couple, who I later had lunch with, and several days later
arranged to go to Chankanaab with. RCI has done a great job of stopping
the locals from hassling you all over the area. Two thumbs up for
that. The water did appear to be a little cleaner than the last time we
were there, but it still didn't have much visibility and I didn't see
any fish. Like a lot of people have said, it's a beach place not a
snorkeling place. I still have no reason to want to go back, but I
didn't hate it like I did last time I was there. CocoCay and Great
Stirrup Cay are still my favorites by far, for private islands.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica - I found a snorkeling excursion. We were taken by
boat to a reef that is actually only a few hundred yards from the ship.
The snorkeling wasn't great, but it was better than sitting on the ship,
or sitting on one of the beaches that don't have any reefs or fish. One
of the Fantasy class ships was in port with us.

Cayman - I booked Stingray City the "deep water" site. There are
actually 2 Stingray Cities, the original deep water site, and the newer
sand bar. Since I had alrady gone to the sand bar once before, I wanted
to try the other one. As I awoke, we heard announcements that all
Stingray City excursions were canceled due to the weather. It was windy
and a little on the rough side. I later heard that we came "that close"
to having Cayman canceled for all ships that day. Luckily it improved
in the afternoon, rather than getting worse. I packed my snorkel gear
and walked to Eden Rock. I got in the water and saw 4 huge tarpon
patrolling the area around the rock/coral steps into the water. Each
was 4-5 feet long. They would swim at you and if you didn't feed them
they'd just veer off to the side. Lots of smaller fish there as well.
I missed seeing the stingrays, but it was still a wonderful day, seeing
the tarpon.

We were in port with Grand Princess, Norwegian Sun and Carnival
Triumph. We didn't have an anchor chain that I could see from the
tender, so we might have been using the dynamic stabilization system to
keep us in place instead.

Cozumel - I went to Chankanaab with my friends from Labadee, some of
their friends, and a couple from our Viking group. Lots of fish
everywhere. We all had a great time. We walked around the lagoon to
see the iguanas. Some of the Viking group were going to one of the
other beaches but I wanted a place that I knew had reefs and lots of
fish.

In port with us were the Voyager (first time Navigator and Voyager were
in port together), Nordic Empress and Norwegian Wind at the Downtown
pier, and us, Veendam and one of the Fantasy ships at the International
Pier. Mickey needs to buy HAL some buckets of black and white paint.
Veendam looked very shabby. Flaking paint all over. We grabbed a XX
beer at the Sr. Frogs at the dock area.

Days at Sea - quiet for me. I read my book, a re-read of JRRT's Two
Towers/Lord of the Ring. I'm getting ready for the December release of
Return of the King. I tried to get a cell phone signal off the coast of
Key West (to check in with Linda and the kids) but had no luck.


Crown & Anchor Platinum/Diamond Lunch Get Together
--------------------------------------------------
On Friday, there was a lunch meeting of the C&A Platinum and Diamond
members in the Viking Crown Lounge. I met some guy who was Director of
Revenue and Marketing. We talked for a while. I told him how I was
extremely pleased with breakfast and lunch, but very disappointed with
dinner. He took a lot of notes. As I said before, that's also where I
met Jeff, the Cruise Director. The Captain spoke for a short while and
answered some questions.


Debarkation
-----------
I set my phone for a 7:30 wake up. They had already cleared everything
with the port and had begun calling color tags. I had the white color
tags (first off) for C&A Platinum, but waited until after I had
breakfast. By then they were to the red color tags. There was about a
10-15 minute to get off the ship, but about a 30 minute wait to clear
customs. After that it was a quick taxi ride ($20) to the airport.


Going Home
----------
Here's where it gets interesting.

During dinner the last evening we heard that New York / New Jersey were
getting hit with snow. I had flights that connected through Atlanta (I
was using an old ticket on Delta and there are no Miami to Newark
non-stop flights).

I got as far as Atlanta on Saturday, but all the flights to Newark had
already been canceled by the time I got to Atlanta. I spent the night
near the airport at the Marriott Courtyard for $55 per night, distressed
passenger rate. Not too bad. I was booked on a 2:30 flight from
Atlanta to Newark on Sunday. There were several earlier flights, but
rather than go standby and worry about luggage, the agent put me on the
2:30 flight with a reservation and seat assignment. Since I had
toiletries and my evening clothes from the last night in my carry on, I
opted to let them keep my 2 large bags. I washed the few pieces of
clothing I needed on Sunday at the hotel.

When I got to Newark my luggage had already arrived. Linda picked me up
at the airport and we were on the road within about 5 minutes after
arrival.


What I liked:
-------------
The buffet dining room - lots of dark wood for accent
Buffet food
Smoking restricted to certain areas - not simply all over the ship, or
limited to only one side of the ship. The ship is very smoke free.
Johnny Rockets
My aft facing balcony with the shade
The dining room interior design
2 Paintings (still lifes, with large blue backgrounds, starboard side,
aft staircase, about deck 8 or so IIRC)
Ice Cream self serve all over the ship
The promenade deck outside


What I didn't like:
-------------------
Royal Promenade
Dining Room food
Desserts
Long walks with the 2 "double" elevator/stairway banks at each end of
the Royal Promenade.
Light hallway carpeting showing dirty areas outside cabin doors.
Poor stability of the ship.
No "one place" which is "the place to hang out" like the Fleet Bar on
the Zenith.
With smoking restricted over much of the ship, places that do allow
smoking had a LOT of smoking going on. You couldn't even think of going
to those places if you didn't like smoking.


  #6  
Old December 9th, 2003, 01:00 PM
sheree
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Navigator of the Seas - My Thoughts

sounds like RCI improved in some areas but really went downhill on the
dining!

I loved Johnny Rockets, their black and white shakes were awesome. we had a
corner aft balcony on the voyager which was huge!

the promendade seemed dark, I prefer an atrium as well although I had liked
the cafe for noshes.

glad you had a nice trip, and that you made it home safely.

--
Sheree

"Tom & Linda" wrote in message
...

I was part of Sue W's Viking Group on Navigator of the Seas. We sailed
November 29, 2003, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We were a group of
(I believe) 189 people.

My initial thoughts and observations follow. Remember, I'm an
Engineer. I'm analytical. I look at how things work. The concept of
"go with an open mind" is meaningless to me. I don't even understand
the concept.

Also, recognize that I'm a Celebrity and Princess fan. This cruise
reminded me of many of the reasons that we stopped sailing on RCI a good
5 years ago.

This collection of thoughts (it's not really a review) is about 90%
complete. I got tired of typing, and I didn't do a careful proofread.
So this is it. Any typos? Oh well. I focus mostly on the ship and
cruise experience, not our group, since most of the people here don't
know most of the people in the group.

--Tom


Flight Down
-----------

Effortless. Had a connecting flight through Atlanta. Pretty much all
on time. I flew down on Friday for our sailing on Saturday. I took a
taxi to the hotel.


Overnight in Miami
------------------

We stayed at the Radisson on Biscayne Blvd. Nothing to write home
about. but the group rate price was very reasonable. It was convenient
to the cruise docks.

After flying down, I decided to take a nap around 5:00 pm. We were
going to go to Bayside later that evening. I woke up at 7:00. Not pm.
7:00 am. the following morning. Talk about being exhausted.


Embarkation
-----------

Since we were part of a big group and had spent the previous night in
Miami, we had a bus pick us up at 10:00 am at the hotel. We were at the
dock by 10:30, after all the luggage was loaded on, and then unloaded
off the bus. With Crown & Anchor Platinum status, I was shown to a side
room adjacent to the big area where everyone stands in line, where my
paperwork was processed. I was on the ship within 5-10 minutes.


The Ship

--------

Since it's not a new class of ship, there's not much to tell that hasn't
been told before, but it was my first time on a Voyager class ship. So
I'll offer my impressions of the class of ship.

The Royal Promenade. OK, I'm probably the exception. I don't really
care for the Royal Promenade. I do like the 15 story atriums on most
ships. They are unique. You really mostly find them on ships. But a 3
story mall, we've got them all over the place. No Big deal. The Royal
Promenade might be unique on a ship, but there was nothing fundamentally
unique about it when we have malls that look like that every few miles
around here.

One thing I found interesting is that they have 2 sets of stairways,
port and starboard, at each end of the promenade. The ship is so wide
that you can do all kinds of different things like that. So instead of
one set of stairs, port and starboard each have their own set of stairs.

Much of the ship is smoke free. The restrict smokers to bars and other
places on the ship like that. I think that even outside, one side is
smoke free.

Where the Promenade ended in the aft, you have to walk around the stairs
that go to the lower level. You walk through a narrow area by the
champagne bar. That's one of the few places that allows smoking so you
either hold your breath or get a lung full of ciggy smoke as you walk
past.

Having only 2 elevator and stairway banks (at each end of the Royal
Promenade) for a ship that long meant a LOT of walking.

Bars are everywhere. Many are on the smaller side, like on Grand
Princess. Lots of different options, but also I got the feeling that
there were so many places to go that you never really developed any
"chemistry" with any one place on the ship. There was no "the place to
hang out" kind of place on the ship, like you get on many ships. Many
of the bars are very smoky.

The Dungeon - strange. Never went there other than looking around the
first day. Looks like something Farcus would design. Not my thing at
all.

The Dining Room - Very Attractive. if it wasn't for the food. more on
that later. Lots of dark colored wood like on Century.

The Windjammer. Best RCI Windjammer I've seen yet. Probably best
overall on all the ships I've seen in fact. LOTS of buffet station and
LOTS of tables and chairs. There are even Asian buffet stations on each
side of the ship before you even get to the Windjammer stations.

Casino - Gaudy. Tacky. Any Farcus sightings? Never spent any time
there other than as a walk through, to get to other areas.

Library - almost no books. Very small.

On-Line Internet Café - very nice, with all computers working.

Rock Climbing Wall - it was there but I never saw anyone anywhere near
it.

Hoops - there were always guys shooting hoops.

Solarium Pool - by definition isn't it supposed to have a cover? Well
it doesn't. What's the point of having a solarium pool without a
cover? There was almost no one ever there. To me, the best solariums
are ones like on Grandeur and Galaxy where the roof can be opened or
closed.

Ice Skating Rink - we had our group photo taken there. No signs of
Gretzky or Lafleur.

All the different places - I think it fragmented our group having that
many different places to go.


My Cabin
--------
I had one of the aft balcony cabins. The plus: the balcony was larger
than most. The minus: they are tiered and there is no privacy from
above. The person above you can see your entire balcony. There is a
unique characteristic on the Voyager class ships for these cabins, they
are not at the very back of the ship. Some circular metal structures
actually extend out past the balconies. What I did like was that these
structures formed a partial covering of my balcony which gave me some
nice shading - I have a very light complexion and skin cancer is always
a major concern for me. The inside of the cabin was pretty much
identical to the cabin on Constellation. Cookie cutter, with some minor
changes like the design of the closet area. The cabin had a mini
refrig.


Stability of the Ship
---------------------
Two words - Not Good. We were doing the Western Caribbean. The calmest
of all itineraries. The ship bounced all over the place, with the same
noticeable herky jerky back and forth motion as Ocean Princess. I give
her a Poor rating for stability.


Cleanliness
-----------
They're doing a nice job maintaining the ship so far. They're already
re-varnishing railings. For RCI they've gotten rid of much of the
Astroturf and are using the Celebrity type decking instead. Big
improvement. Hallway carpets are light colored and are showing stains
where people walk out of their cabins. so in front of every door is a
dark blotch in the carpeting. They really should use darker carpeting
on the ships. I give RCI good marks for cleanliness of the ship.

The one exception. the day we were anchored in Labadee, there was a
large collection of black greasy soot all over the back of the ship. It
was on the decking, the railings, the chairs, tables, even all over any
clothes or towels left out. I'm not sure if it came from the ship or
from the Haitians burning something on land. But it was pretty
disgusting. There were small particles (black on one side and brown on
the other side) and larger ones up to 1 inch in diameter. It would fall
apart when you picked it up, and leave a greasy black film on your
skin. They didn't do much of a job of cleaning it up - they just
eventually let it blow away. It kind of stays on the ship permanently
where ever it ends up once the wind blows it around. I saw remnants of
it from the previous cruise when I boarded the ship. It looks like
something that happens repeatedly, though that was the only time it
happened during our cruise.


Food
----

Buffet Food - TOP notch for RCI. I was very impressed. They had almost
everything that Celebrity and Princess have except for the
crepes/blintzes and orange slices. they even had smoked salmon though it
basically had no taste. There wasn't a good selection of pastries, but
they did have fresh made omelets. I rated the buffet among the better
ones I've seen. On the 1-10 scale. I give it a good honest 8.

Johnny Rockets - Lots of Fun. I had lunch there 3 afternoons. One of
my favorite places on the ship. On the 1-10 scale. a good honest 9.
LOVE the onion rings. And they give you a LARGE size beer or soda
there. For dessert they have wonderful apple pie and ice cream. Really
good pie. Light flaky crust. The real stuff. The burgers there are an
afterthought. One afternoon all I got was a big batch of onion rings
that I scoffed down on my balcony.

Dinner in Dining Room - here's where we do a quick change of direction.
Only one way to describe the dining room food: Atrocious. I had one
excellent meal during the week - the fillet mignon the second night.
Other than that, the food was a waste. Poor quality ingredients, steaks
that were blood red and still tough as leather, fish that was horrible
(I went against one of my cardinal rules. eat no seafood on RCI, NCL or
Carnival), pasta that was terrible, mushy shrimp that I had to
discretely "spit" out. Desserts were terrible. The tiramisu was
basically rubbery tasting. There was nothing real about it. It was
like plastic. "Vinyl". The one good dessert was the soufflé with Grand
Marnier sauce. One night I had the apple pie and ice cream. it was NO
WHERE near as good as the apple pie and ice cream at Johnny Rockets. On
a 1-10 scale. I'd be hard pressed to give dining room food any more than
a 2.

For what it's worth though. at Miami airport I talked with someone else
who was on the ship. You'd think we were on different ships. He said
it was the best dining room food he's had on over 50 Royal Caribbean
cruises. Different strokes. Maybe I'm just a lot more fussy than he
was.

Café promenade - had desserts and mini sandwiches 24x7. It replaces the
buffet for mini sandwiches in the afternoon.


Service
-------
Actually top notch. RCI is so well orchestrated that it's hard for them
to NOT give you good service.

Our Maitre d' was a waste though. He only visited once during the
week. I'd leave 80% of my dinner un-eaten and he never even bothered to
find out why. I gave the pre-paid voucher for his tip to the waiter
instead. I hope he can cash it in instead.

Our waiter always asked if he could get me something else instead, when
I didn't eat my dinner. But after a few days I think he just kind of
accepted that I wasn't going like the poor quality of food that they
were serving.

My cabin steward did a decent job.

In the Windjammer, they had lots of extra help. There are stations
where there are at least 50 glasses of orange juice, lemonade or water
lined up all the time. You never have to get your own juice like on
just about every other ship I've been on.

Cruise Director. I never met him until the last day (since I don't go
to shows), at a C&A Platinum meeting. His name is Jeff and he asked
where I was from. I said "Jersey". He said "Where?". I said "Central
Jersey". He asked what town and when I replied, he said that he grew up
the next town over. Small world.


The Shows
---------

Fred Travolina was the guest comedian. I watched about 5 minutes of his
show. He did a few California Gov. Aaahnold jokes and a few Michael
Jackson "oops I dropped a baby" jokes.

I also saw a few minutes of one of the ice shows - a guy took a tumble
doing a triple (at least I think it was a triple). I love hockey, but
not figure skating - just not my thing.


Caribbean Pool Party
--------------------
Held during the middle of the cruise (I'm too lazy now to look up the
exact night) but it wasn't well attended. Nothing like on Ocean
Princess when the whole deck was totally packed with people.


Captain's Reception
-------------------
It was held in the Royal Promenade. The Royal Promenade doesn't handle
2000 people well.


Ports
-----

Labadee - I took an early tender and took lots of pictures of the ship.
It was a cool day, so after an hour or so, I wasn't totally drained in
the heat like the last time we were there. I grabbed a lounge chair on
the ocean side of the peninsula and sat there for a while. I talked
with a couple, who I later had lunch with, and several days later
arranged to go to Chankanaab with. RCI has done a great job of stopping
the locals from hassling you all over the area. Two thumbs up for
that. The water did appear to be a little cleaner than the last time we
were there, but it still didn't have much visibility and I didn't see
any fish. Like a lot of people have said, it's a beach place not a
snorkeling place. I still have no reason to want to go back, but I
didn't hate it like I did last time I was there. CocoCay and Great
Stirrup Cay are still my favorites by far, for private islands.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica - I found a snorkeling excursion. We were taken by
boat to a reef that is actually only a few hundred yards from the ship.
The snorkeling wasn't great, but it was better than sitting on the ship,
or sitting on one of the beaches that don't have any reefs or fish. One
of the Fantasy class ships was in port with us.

Cayman - I booked Stingray City the "deep water" site. There are
actually 2 Stingray Cities, the original deep water site, and the newer
sand bar. Since I had alrady gone to the sand bar once before, I wanted
to try the other one. As I awoke, we heard announcements that all
Stingray City excursions were canceled due to the weather. It was windy
and a little on the rough side. I later heard that we came "that close"
to having Cayman canceled for all ships that day. Luckily it improved
in the afternoon, rather than getting worse. I packed my snorkel gear
and walked to Eden Rock. I got in the water and saw 4 huge tarpon
patrolling the area around the rock/coral steps into the water. Each
was 4-5 feet long. They would swim at you and if you didn't feed them
they'd just veer off to the side. Lots of smaller fish there as well.
I missed seeing the stingrays, but it was still a wonderful day, seeing
the tarpon.

We were in port with Grand Princess, Norwegian Sun and Carnival
Triumph. We didn't have an anchor chain that I could see from the
tender, so we might have been using the dynamic stabilization system to
keep us in place instead.

Cozumel - I went to Chankanaab with my friends from Labadee, some of
their friends, and a couple from our Viking group. Lots of fish
everywhere. We all had a great time. We walked around the lagoon to
see the iguanas. Some of the Viking group were going to one of the
other beaches but I wanted a place that I knew had reefs and lots of
fish.

In port with us were the Voyager (first time Navigator and Voyager were
in port together), Nordic Empress and Norwegian Wind at the Downtown
pier, and us, Veendam and one of the Fantasy ships at the International
Pier. Mickey needs to buy HAL some buckets of black and white paint.
Veendam looked very shabby. Flaking paint all over. We grabbed a XX
beer at the Sr. Frogs at the dock area.

Days at Sea - quiet for me. I read my book, a re-read of JRRT's Two
Towers/Lord of the Ring. I'm getting ready for the December release of
Return of the King. I tried to get a cell phone signal off the coast of
Key West (to check in with Linda and the kids) but had no luck.


Crown & Anchor Platinum/Diamond Lunch Get Together
--------------------------------------------------
On Friday, there was a lunch meeting of the C&A Platinum and Diamond
members in the Viking Crown Lounge. I met some guy who was Director of
Revenue and Marketing. We talked for a while. I told him how I was
extremely pleased with breakfast and lunch, but very disappointed with
dinner. He took a lot of notes. As I said before, that's also where I
met Jeff, the Cruise Director. The Captain spoke for a short while and
answered some questions.


Debarkation
-----------
I set my phone for a 7:30 wake up. They had already cleared everything
with the port and had begun calling color tags. I had the white color
tags (first off) for C&A Platinum, but waited until after I had
breakfast. By then they were to the red color tags. There was about a
10-15 minute to get off the ship, but about a 30 minute wait to clear
customs. After that it was a quick taxi ride ($20) to the airport.


Going Home
----------
Here's where it gets interesting.

During dinner the last evening we heard that New York / New Jersey were
getting hit with snow. I had flights that connected through Atlanta (I
was using an old ticket on Delta and there are no Miami to Newark
non-stop flights).

I got as far as Atlanta on Saturday, but all the flights to Newark had
already been canceled by the time I got to Atlanta. I spent the night
near the airport at the Marriott Courtyard for $55 per night, distressed
passenger rate. Not too bad. I was booked on a 2:30 flight from
Atlanta to Newark on Sunday. There were several earlier flights, but
rather than go standby and worry about luggage, the agent put me on the
2:30 flight with a reservation and seat assignment. Since I had
toiletries and my evening clothes from the last night in my carry on, I
opted to let them keep my 2 large bags. I washed the few pieces of
clothing I needed on Sunday at the hotel.

When I got to Newark my luggage had already arrived. Linda picked me up
at the airport and we were on the road within about 5 minutes after
arrival.


What I liked:
-------------
The buffet dining room - lots of dark wood for accent
Buffet food
Smoking restricted to certain areas - not simply all over the ship, or
limited to only one side of the ship. The ship is very smoke free.
Johnny Rockets
My aft facing balcony with the shade
The dining room interior design
2 Paintings (still lifes, with large blue backgrounds, starboard side,
aft staircase, about deck 8 or so IIRC)
Ice Cream self serve all over the ship
The promenade deck outside


What I didn't like:
-------------------
Royal Promenade
Dining Room food
Desserts
Long walks with the 2 "double" elevator/stairway banks at each end of
the Royal Promenade.
Light hallway carpeting showing dirty areas outside cabin doors.
Poor stability of the ship.
No "one place" which is "the place to hang out" like the Fleet Bar on
the Zenith.
With smoking restricted over much of the ship, places that do allow
smoking had a LOT of smoking going on. You couldn't even think of going
to those places if you didn't like smoking.



  #7  
Old December 9th, 2003, 01:46 PM
Bisous3
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Default Navigator of the Seas - My Thoughts

Tom & Linda
Thanks for the "collection of thoughts". Very informative, you answered most
questions I'd have!
Suzanne
  #8  
Old December 9th, 2003, 04:01 PM
Stuck in Central Florida
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Default Navigator of the Seas - My Thoughts

We just returned from the Mariner of Seas. She is the newest of the series
and the identical sister ship to the Navigator.

We found the dinning room good for dinner. That is the 8 of us at our
table, many others did not care for the food. Breakfast in the dinning room
was a mess, the Wind Jammer was far better.

Port Canaveral screwed up the boarding process. It took about 2 hours to
get past a very poor security check. The place was under staffed with
poorly trained personnel. That was a real shame.

The Western Caribbean ports are a total waste of time during the peak
season. There were 7 large ships in Cosomel, six in Grand Cayman. Way too
many people for too small ports. If you take a tour or buy one on the pier,
you make be able to escape the crowds. The eight hour influx of 15,000
plus people just overpowers the local shops, streets, and everyone's nerves.

With 3200 passengers and 1200 crew the ship was just plain crowded. Lines
everywhere on board and off. She would be better named 'The Long Lines on
the Seas.' Guess RCI rejected that one.

The entertainment was good some nights and pain rotten others. The Ice show
was good, but the ice conditions were not the best for the performers. They
had a number of falls in same places. Still it was good.

One item that did offend me was the constant attempts by RCI to sell you
additional services. these ranged from 'ticket books' for shopping to $20
each for the two theme restraints. Every one tried to grad your wallet for
a little more cash.

Stay away from the Art Auction. Much has been written about Park West and
it is all true. The auctioneer, Mr. Hart, is an all sales final, let the
buy beware con man. Lots of prints of little value with big prices and
extra charges for everything ranging with packing, shipping's, frames, his
fee etc. The free champagne is very expensive.


  #9  
Old December 9th, 2003, 07:12 PM
Sue and Kevin Mullen
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Default Navigator of the Seas - My Thoughts



Tom & Linda wrote:

The Dungeon - strange. Never went there other than looking around the
first day. Looks like something Farcus would design. Not my thing at
all.


What is the Dungeon??

Solarium Pool - by definition isn't it supposed to have a cover? Well
it doesn't. What's the point of having a solarium pool without a
cover? There was almost no one ever there. To me, the best solariums
are ones like on Grandeur and Galaxy where the roof can be opened or
closed.


Was there any other pool that had a cover? I loved the solarium on the
Splendor of the Seas.

Buffet Food - TOP notch for RCI. I was very impressed. They had almost
everything that Celebrity and Princess have except for the
crepes/blintzes and orange slices… they even had smoked salmon though it
basically had no taste. There wasn't a good selection of pastries, but
they did have fresh made omelets. I rated the buffet among the better
ones I've seen. On the 1-10 scale… I give it a good honest 8.


How would you compare it to the buffet we had on the Zenith?


Dinner in Dining Room - here's where we do a quick change of direction.
Only one way to describe the dining room food: Atrocious. I had one
excellent meal during the week - the fillet mignon the second night.
Other than that, the food was a waste. Poor quality ingredients, steaks
that were blood red and still tough as leather, fish that was horrible


This doesn't sound very encouraging. We will be sailing on the Rhapsody
in Feb and I hope the food in the dining room is better then what you
had. At least if the food isn't good, we will have good company. Hi Jean
and Lori!!

Tom, Thanks for the review. I am glad that you made it home safely.

sue






  #10  
Old December 9th, 2003, 07:40 PM
Warren H. Davis
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Default Navigator of the Seas - My Thoughts

Tom & Linda wrote:

For what it's worth though? at Miami airport I talked with someone else
who was on the ship. You'd think we were on different ships. He said
it was the best dining room food he's had on over 50 Royal Caribbean
cruises. Different strokes. Maybe I'm just a lot more fussy than he
was.


Or maybe the food on the other 49 cruise was reeeeaaaallly bad! ;-)
My only RCI dining experiences go back to 94 and 95 on a cruise
(Sovereign-O-S) and a lunch tour(Song of America). It was dreck then.
Sounds like it really hasn't improved at all.

Refreshingly concise report. I enjoyed reading it.

Warren
 




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