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Royal Caribbean International: Navigator of the Seas

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Feb 5, 2017

Southern Caribbean

This was hands down the WORST experience we've ever sustained. Further, we entrusted Royal Caribbean with our hard earned money and it was wasted on this cruise, we did not get the services we paid for. At this point we cannot trust Royal Caribbean with our vacation money because they own Navigator and keep it at sea in poor condition with bad management. Windjammers food had really degraded since we sailed Oasis in 2015. Breakfast had the

same items daily, 'hash browns' seem to be McDonalds prepackaged product, almost no food from scratch, just poor quality like I've never seen in my prior 10 cruises. Lunch a bit better. Some variance, quality slightly better, deserts fair at best. The main dining room experience may have been good for some but not for us. Food was fair at best and has really degraded, cheaper quality meals and meats. Beef tenderloins used to be a whole piece meat, now its 2 thin slices. Quality entrees such as Beef Wellington, Swordfish, Beef Bourguignon, and others are gone. Duck served one night was VERY tough so I gave up on one of my most desired dishes. Lamp chops good but very THIN and each of the 3 chops gave only 2 bites - 6 bites total. Did have prime rib 2 nights though. "Creme Brulee" was NOT made from either eggs or cream (that's how they are made), some crappy corn starch based junk, mine at home is vastly better and real. But the really troubling part was our waiter, hands down the worst we've ever had. A good waiter must do more than take your order and bring plates of food, local restaurants do that. The most important job is to provide recommendations on food and explain how the food is prepared and served. WHAT will we get on the plate and WHAT is especially good. He didn't do any of that. After 5 nights we gave up and started listening to a nearby waiter for his recommendations. The next night we resorted to asking him directly, in which case our waiter quickly ran over to cut him off by taking our order. He couldn't explain how food was prepared or served. Part of cruising is the dining experience which is heavily influenced by the waiter's knowledge and skill, which he lacked. Perhaps the trouble was his English, he said little and was hard to understand. Navigator is "Voyager" class so based upon experience we expected quality. However, this was a ship BADLY in need of maintenance time in dry dock, it was last refurbished in 2014 and was in poor condition. * A/C worked poorly in both cabins (we had to be moved after 4 days) due to balcony doors leaking * Toilet overflowed filling the floor with water, leaking onto the cabin carpet * Toilet stopped flushing (caused us to demand another cabin) * Balcony paint in poor condition, rust showing * Bed was very hard, blanket rolled up under sagging section to prevent sagging * Hair dryer not working * Carpet moldy smell due to toilet overflow * Hallway carpet outside cabin moldy smell due to bathroom leak We booked an excursion online and they cancelled it. We then used Shore Excursions Group for our excursions and they offer discounts that RCCL will not, using the same vendors. POOR COMMUNICATION: * Our fist cabin attendant was NOT informed of bathroom problems in our first cabin despite 2 calls to Guest Services. * Our 2nd cabin attendant was NOT informed we were moving to another cabin and I had to explain WHO I was and WHY I was in, what she thought, was an empty cabin. PROMISES MADE BUT NOT KEPT: * Dining room manager DID NOT follow up with table request issue on day 1 as promised at 2:30 PM. This had to be resolved at the start of the dinner seating who knew nothing of our 2:30 PM request. * Guest Services did not send anyone to first cabin to clean up toilet overflow despite 2 requests. Cabin attendant was unaware there was a problem in our cabin (communication issue). * Guest services promised they would take an inappropriate charge off our account for a complimentary movie but did not (we cannot get this resolved). * Guest services promised to deliver an updated statement to our cabin reflecting a credit for the inappropriate charge but did not. We still no documentation of charges. NOTE: On day 2 we asked for another cabin and were denied by the Guest Services Manager who said no other cabin was available. On day 4 a cabin became available despite the fact the ship was at sea so it was impossible to disembark the ship. Guest services lied to us on day 2 about no other cabin available and they were perhaps the biggest disappointment on our cruise. Guest Services talked, gave excuses, made promises, didn't keep them, and then treated us like we were the problem. All problems stated above stem from management which means they are not competent (Hotel Director, Restaurant Manager, etc) because they keep themselves isolated from customers to avoid problems. We have demanded a credit equal to our trip price - but I am not optimistic. Without that credit we will NEVER sail Royal Caribbean again and feel completely ripped off.

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  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Jan 18, 2017

Review of Navigator of the Seas

Ilinois Guy Age: 66 Occupation:Retired Number of Cruises: 11 Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean Ship: Navigator of the Seas Sailing Date: 2017-01-20 Itinerary: Southern Caribbean This was hands down the WORST experience we've ever sustained. Further, we entrusted Royal Caribbean with our hard earned money and it was wasted on this cruise, we did not get the services we paid for. At this point we cannot trust Royal Caribbean with our vacation money because

they own Navigator and keep it at sea in poor condition with bad management. Windjammers food had really degraded since we sailed Oasis in 2015. Breakfast had the same items daily, 'hash browns' seem to be McDonalds prepackaged product, almost no food from scratch, just poor quality like I've never seen in my prior 10 cruises. Lunch a bit better. Some variance, quality slightly better, deserts fair at best. The main dining room experience may have been good for some but not for us. Food was fair at best and has really degraded, cheaper quality meals and meats. Beef tenderloins used to be a whole piece meat, now its 2 thin slices. Quality entrees such as Beef Wellington, Swordfish, Beef Bourguignon, and others are gone. Duck served one night was VERY tough so I gave up on one of my most desired dishes. Lamp chops good but very THIN and each of the 3 chops gave only 2 bites - 6 bites total. Did have prime rib 2 nights though. "Creme Brulee" was NOT made from either eggs or cream (that's how they are made), some crappy corn starch based junk, mine at home is vastly better and real. But the really troubling part was our waiter, hands down the worst we've ever had. A good waiter must do more than take your order and bring plates of food, local restaurants do that. The most important job is to provide recommendations on food and explain how the food is prepared and served. WHAT will we get on the plate and WHAT is especially good. He didn't do any of that. After 5 nights we gave up and started listening to a nearby waiter for his recommendations. The next night we resorted to asking him directly, in which case our waiter quickly ran over to cut him off by taking our order. He couldn't explain how food was prepared or served. Part of cruising is the dining experience which is heavily influenced by the waiter's knowledge and skill, which he lacked. Perhaps the trouble was his English, he said little and was hard to understand. Navigator is "Voyager" class so based upon experience we expected quality. However, this was a ship BADLY in need of maintenance time in dry dock, it was last refurbished in 2014 and was in poor condition. * A/C worked poorly in both cabins (we had to be moved after 4 days) due to balcony doors leaking * Toilet overflowed filling the floor with water, leaking onto the cabin carpet * Toilet stopped flushing (caused us to demand another cabin) * Balcony paint in poor condition, rust showing * Bed was very hard, blanket rolled up under sagging section to prevent sagging * Hair dryer not working * Carpet moldy smell due to toilet overflow * Hallway carpet outside cabin moldy smell due to bathroom leak We booked an excursion online and they cancelled it. We then used Shore Excursions Group for our excursions and they offer discounts that RCCL will not, using the same vendors. POOR COMMUNICATION: * Our fist cabin attendant was NOT informed of bathroom problems in our first cabin despite 2 calls to Guest Services. * Our 2nd cabin attendant was NOT informed we were moving to another cabin and I had to explain WHO I was and WHY I was in, what she thought, was an empty cabin. PROMISES MADE BUT NOT KEPT: * Dining room manager DID NOT follow up with table request issue on day 1 as promised at 2:30 PM. This had to be resolved at the start of the dinner seating who knew nothing of our 2:30 PM request. * Guest Services did not send anyone to first cabin to clean up toilet overflow despite 2 requests. Cabin attendant was unaware there was a problem in our cabin (communication issue). * Guest services promised they would take an inappropriate charge off our account for a complimentary movie but did not (we cannot get this resolved). * Guest services promised to deliver an updated statement to our cabin reflecting a credit for the inappropriate charge but did not. We still no documentation of charges. NOTE: On day 2 we asked for another cabin and were denied by the Guest Services Manager who said no other cabin was available. On day 4 a cabin became available despite the fact the ship was at sea so it was impossible to disembark the ship. Guest services lied to us on day 2 about no other cabin available and they were perhaps the biggest disappointment on our cruise. Guest Services talked, gave excuses, made promises, didn't keep them, and then treated us like we were the problem. All problems stated above stem from management which means they are not competent (Hotel Director, Restaurant Manager, etc) because they keep themselves isolated from customers to avoid problems. We have demanded a credit equal to our trip price - but I am not optimistic. Without that credit we will NEVER sail Royal Caribbean again and feel completely ripped off.

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Jan 17, 2017

caribbean

started out well,,really nice ship and very friendly crew,,,,kind of a bumpy ride the few few days but ok,,went downhill after that,,my wife was hurt jet skiing on labadee.. no fish or crab legs on a cruise? unheard of!!!still,,,good food........... (Editor's Note: I have never seen crab legs offered on any mass market cruise line) very nice and clean and comfortable cabin

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Dec 12, 2016

Not as good as expected

RCCL Navigator of the Seas We cruised on the Navigator of the Seas for 7 days from November 27 to December 4, 2016, and this was our 57th cruise. We are rated diamond with RCCL and we cruise with several other cruise lines. We were in balcony cabin 7574. Cabin condition and its size were fine. Ship’s public areas were fine. The food offerings in the main dining room and on the Deck 11 buffet were way below what we have ever experienced before.

For example, there was no salmon or fish for breakfast on Deck 11 – first time ever. They had prime rib on the main restaurant dinner menu twice. The first time it was very thin roast beef. The second time they said they were out and substituted pot roast. Not one lobster tail was offered. The appetizers were generally okay but the entrée offerings were very limited and well below what we have ever experienced before. The check-in was terrible and the worst we ever experienced. The ship was NOT docked at a terminal but docked at a flat pier adjacent to a parking area. We arrived at about 12:00 noon and the line was estimated by me (a Transportation Engineer) to be about 1000 waiting people winding around in a parking lot. No cover or roof was over the long line. If it rained, we would have all been soaked. There were no seats to wait in. There also were no separate priority lines (as they promise in their promotional literature) until you reached the inside of the relatively small tent structure. So we followed 1000 other passengers in the line for about 75 minutes, most of whom were not rated diamond or better. None of the RCCL staff seemed to care about how people were being treated, and this concerned me greatly – and still concerns me. I estimate that we boarded the ship at about 1:30 pm, but did not write the exact time down. At 330 pm, the line was still about 200 passengers long, and there were still several hundred bags in groups around the parking lot to be loaded. I have photos taken from our balcony cabin. We departed about 2 hours late because of the time it took getting the last bags on board. All the restaurant staff in every venue were 5-star great as in the past, but the food offerings were very poor compared to what we experienced in the past on any and every cruise line!!! There was only one production show during the entire 7-day cruise, which was a bummer, but that one show was 5-star great! All the other evening entertainment in the theater, and I mean all, was poor and way below average. The ice-skating show was great 5-star great. The internet package offered for the 7-day cruise was the best ever offered to me. Instead of being limited to and worrying about minutes, we purchased a 7-day 24/7 unlimited package for one device for about $60.00 after our diamond discount. My wife and I could both log on using different devices but at different times, but this was fine. I was surprised by how many people were loudly complaining, and a few voiced real anger. Regardless, for the money we paid, we had a great vacation. However, as we choose future cruises, RCCL is no longer one of our favorite cruise lines. Steve McEvoy

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Dec 8, 2016

Caribbean

RCCL Navigator of the Seas We cruised on the Navigator of the Seas for 7 days from November 27 to December 4, 2016, and this was our 57th cruise. We are rated diamond with RCCL and we cruise with several other cruise lines. We had balcony cabin 7574. Cabin condition and its size were fine. Ship's public areas were fine. The food offerings in the main dining room and on the Deck 11 buffet were way below what we have ever experienced

before. No salmon or fish for breakfast on Deck 11 - first time ever. They had prime rib on the main restaurant dinner menu twice. The first time it was very thin roast beef. The second time they said they were out and substituted pot roast. The appetizers were generally fine but the entree offerings were very limited and well below what we have experienced before. The check-in was the worst we ever experienced. The ship was NOT docked at a terminal but docked at a flat pier adjacent to a parking area. We arrived at about 12:00 noon and the line was estimated by me (a Transportation Engineer) to be about 1000 waiting people winding around in a parking lot. No cover or roof was over the long line. If it rained, we would have all been soaked. There were no seats to wait in. There also were no separate priority lines (as they promise in their promotional literature) until you reached the inside of the relatively small tent structure. So we followed 1000 other passengers in the line, most of whom were not rated diamond or better. None of the RCCL staff seemed to care about how people were being treated. I estimate that we boarded the ship at about 1:30 pm, but did not write the exact time down. At 330 pm, the lime was still about 200 long, and there were still several hundred bags in groups around the parking lot to be loaded. I have photos taken from our balcony cabin. We departed about 2 hours late because of the time it took getting the last bags on board. All the restaurant staff in every venue were 5-star great as in the past, but the food offerings were poor compared to what we experienced in the past!!! There was only one production show during the 7-day show, which was a bummer, but it was 5-star great! All the other evening entertainment in the theater, and I mean all, was poor and way below average. The ice-skating show was great 5-star great. The internet package offered for the 7-day cruise was the best ever offered to me. Instead of being limited to and worrying about minutes, we purchased a 7-day 24/7 unlimited package for one device for about $60.00 after our diamond discount. My wife and I could both log on using different devices but at different times. I was surprised by how many people were loudly complaining, and a few voiced real anger. Regardless, for the money we paid, we had a great vacation. However, as we choose future cruises, RCCL is no longer one of our favorite cruise lines. Steve McEvoy

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By jane_CR

  • New

Aug 23, 2016

europe

A fantastic 1st cruise, had our best holiday ever, up early busy all day home late after dancing most of the night, flowrider great fun, competitions great, shows wonderful, food amazing, I dressed up every night. Food was gorgeous with fabulous service Small and dark cabin, will have window next year Activities very funny maybe because we entered most of them Beach's in Italy lovely, got off a lot and did our own thing some

of the time, excursions very well organised but easy roaming around yourself Beach excursion to Italy had sunbed, parasol, canoe and pedalo included in trip

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By eden_CR

  • New

Apr 11, 2015

Western Caribbean

My husband and I just completed our 4th cruise. Our first experience was the bucket-listed Alaska inland passage, so of course we started off with the bar set high. The ship itself almost didn't matter, because we had nothing to compare it to, but the Princess ship was beautiful and the experience was wonderful. Our second cruise was our first experience with Royal Caribbean, when my mother and my siblings and their spouses (total group of 13)

cruised the Eastern Caribbean. This is where we discovered the wonderful service for which RCCL is known. Our meal servers (we chose First Seating) were overwhelmingly generous and attentive, even coming to see us when we dined at a specialty restaurant. What a fantastic experience that was. Our third cruise was with Norwegian, and the cruise was quite enjoyable. I know that doesn't sound very good, but you must remember we had previously enjoyed the most spectacular locations, and the pinnacle of service on other cruise lines. So, I have to say Norwegian was .... perfectly fine, but not memorable, and again we were in the Caribbean. This time we went back to RCCL for the service (and for the departure point, out of Galveston, within driving distance of our home, a real cost savings), to celebrate our 37/25 anniversary (37 years together, 25 married). The buffet was plentiful and ..... really poor. Each breakfast, lunch and dinner was identical each of the 7 days. If they varied even a single dish, it wasn't noticeable. No spices, lukewarm (as with all cruise buffets), showing a lack of imagination. Lots of food, but very unappealing. The dining room food was better, by comparison, but nothing memorable. The basic dishes remained the same, night after night, and there were 3-4 variations to choose from. Nothing special. Giovanni's food was clearly a step above the dining room, but we were distracted by the poor service (our waiter was apparently new at his craft, and they assigned him tables spanning all areas of the room so that it must have been difficult for him to keep on eye on all his diners), although the waiter was very friendly. We ate at Johnny Rocket's for one lunch, and that was fun -- burgers and fries and onion rings. Good solid stuff. Our meal at Izumi was good -- plentiful sushi for a reasonable price (this restaurant is a la carte). We ate there at the end of our trip, and they unfortunately froze the salmon sashimi at some point, and then delivered it to us with frozen crystals still in the center. Definitely NOT a good experience, although the tuna sashima was really good, and the chef didn't charge us for the salmon (again, Royal Caribbean's service is just the top of this type of cruise line). We ate at Chop's in the middle of the trip -- now THAT was a meal! My husband had the 9 oz filet and I treated myself to the aged 18 oz porterhouse (and we were eating slices from that steak for 2 days afterward!). The kitchen is really (really) good at Chop's, and our server, Ruben, is worth asking for when you go. Self-assured, relaxed and friendly without forcing it, he timed the meal perfectly and made that meal an experience to remember. We had a Superior View balcony room mid-ship, and now are spoiled forever -- just have to have a balcony room on every cruise going forward. Neither my husband nor I like the "let's all lay around the pool and fry ourselves" environment on the upper deck, and having a roomy balcony, and a room with both a bed and a full-length couch was heaven. The rooms are clean and very airy and bright. The evening entertainment headliners were surprisingly awesome. Good little orchestra and talented contact performers. The headliners included reVoiced (a 5-man accapella group -- really, really talented guys), and Beatle Mania, a world-renowned Beatles impersonator group, got me on my feet, singing and screaming like a little girl. The other cruises we've been on have had adequate entertainment, but I'll admit I was pleasantly surprised and impressed -- Royal Caribbean put some money into their evening entertainment on this cruise. During the day, most of the onboard activities relate to buying something, or sitting down and letting someone sell you something. But, as I said previously, we had the balcony and good books, so I wasn't bored as I would otherwise have been. Go ahead and miss Roatan -- I hate to say it, but it's kind of a dump, and the locals appear tired and bored, rather than being energetic and proud to display their country, as the locals in Belize were. As for Cozumel, we spent 4 hours at the Jose Cuervo center, where we learned how tequila is made, what to drink it with and how to drink it. Who knew, after drinking tequila for years, that we had been doing it wrong the whole time? haha That was really fun and a huge value for the $65 (each) we paid. The Navigator of the Seas was "refreshed" last year and is lovely. There was a little issue with Norovirus with some of the passengers (just a handful), and the ship's crew went above and beyond every day to wipe everything down, over and over again, and to ensure that all precautions against an outbreak were taken. Very impressive. Oh, and remember that even though you can buy things duty-free, Texas still charges a duty/tax on almost everything when you return. It's not much (we paid around $6 for a couple liters of tequila), but nothing is really "free", is it? All in all, this was a wonderful cruise on a beautiful ship, with top-notch service you can always rely on with RCCL.

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By JG_CR

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Feb 10, 2014

Cozumel Mexico

This was our first cruise. We decided to take this 5 day cruise to see if liked cruises be fore taking a longer cruise. IIt seemed that all there was on board was several bars, shops selling jewelery, a few places to eat and shops selling Royal Caribbean clothing. The shops Sales Associates would stand out in the middle of the main walkway harking there items - "come into my store" - like a Mexico mercado. If you wanted a drink at the bar you had

to wait in line for 15 minutes. Even though the bar had 3 bartenders - all of them the slowest bartenders I've ever witnessed. Food in the Windjammer was buffet style and tasted like institutional food. Too few activities for so many people. Activities were few and same ones repeated over the course of the day. Once you've done everything, which you can easily do in a day, there's nothing left to do except drink and eat. The drink packages are over priced and cater to alcoholics as you'd have to drink about 6 drinks a day just to break even. Then there's still the problem of getting the drink at the crowded bars. The food was marginal at best. The menu was mostly the same with a few entrees changed every night. Each entree had an elaborate name and description but once tasted turned out to be overcooked and the flavors did not go well together. We has a junior suite and while the room was attractive our cabin steward was terrible. Our mini fridge was empty when we arrived and I asked him twice to have it filled. He explained it wasn't his responsibility but the bars and he would tell them. Never got done. He eventually told me to call room service instead. Additionally he was never around. i always saw other cabin stewards whenever I walked the halls but ours was no where to be found. All activities on board were too few and most were lame. Additionally the same activities were repeated at different times during the day. No new activities added. The entertainment was lousy. I've seen better high school productions.

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Mar 22, 2013

Caribbean

March 16, 2013 sail date to the Caribbean. The Navigator was more than we expected! A very friendly and helpful crew coupled with fun activities and events made our spring break trip very enjoyable! I suggest using the port parking because it is secure, hotels may offer for free but may not be secured. Upon leaving after the cruise, it was not hectic or long waits to exit. Boarding was easy with no delays. Our luggage was delivered to

our staterooms in a timely manner. The Navigator offers many different dining options. My friend and I opted mostly for open dining in the Wind Jammer and my son and his friend opted for the more smart casual/formal my time dining. Open dining offered many great choices of food on their buffets and the wait staff was always friendly and worked hard to make the dining pleasant. We chose the formal nights in the my time dining and the dinners were wonderful! The menus were delicious selections that had something for everyone! Johnny Rockets is a must dining experience! For under $5 per person, it is all you can eat featured in a 1950's diner decor. Bring nickels to put into the jukebox at your table. Drinks are extra if they are not water or tea. The staff entertains with various dances and encourages participation. Your onion rings and french fries never run out!! For adults later the Two Poets Pub is full of life with Clark! Singing along with the crowd to songs you know with great beverages made our night life a blast! We were there each night with the new friends we made. Go and enjoy! Our stateroom was always tidied up no matter how many times we entered and left our room. Anything we wanted, Anthony was ready to help with or find an answer. The whole crew was pleasant and made a point to make conversation with anyone coming or going from their rooms. There is a blow dryer in the staterooms but it is very small. Hangers are provided in the closet. There is plenty of drawers and space to unpack belongings. There is very little to watch on the television when you unwind at night. Limited on movies. The television does not swivel very well for the right side of the room leaving that person kind of at an odd angle. Did not hear any noise or conversations at night. Read your Compass for all the "what to do's" Lots of great activities for all ages, especially teens. 18 and older have no curfew. Under 18 was one o'clock. The dodgeball contest was fun to watch as the traditional belly flop contest! The 9 whole putt putt golf was fun too. I did not climb the rock wall but my son and his friend did and had a blast with it! All in all the activities were pretty fun. Cozumel-Amazing Secret River; this excursion was awesome! We suited up in wet suits. Water shoes are required so you might want to bring your own. Wearing flashlight helmets you descend into magnificent caves. No picture taking aloud in the caves. At some point you enter the water, which yes it is cold but not unbearable. You may have to keep up with little ones at times in some of the more strenuous swimming sections. Not horribly long, but just long enough to get winded or tired. The lunch afterwards is great! And then you lay in hammocks until time to head back to port. The guides are fun and entertaining and they photograph the whole event which is available on a dvd then or order later when home. Highly recommend!! Jamaica-Dunns Falls Horseback ride; Dunns Falls were fun but could be hard for smaller children as the water rushes pretty hard. In fact you link hands with another person in you party to assist in ascending up the falls. Picture taking from the guides seems to be a bit much for such a big party and the end of the line is often rushed, so be in the front! The Horseback ride was more fun to me. Guides were fun and take your camera and run ahead to get great shots of you on your horse. The ride in the ocean is fantastic and we loved the fun all the way through.

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Dec 18, 2012

Western Caribbean

It took us over 5 hours to get on and off the ship. I had to call for a wheel chair. This is a mega ship and the New Orleans terminal just not big enough for this ship. You often had to wait in line to get any place then a photographer blocked entrances to the dinning room and the only deck suitable to get from one end of the ship to the other was blocked with tables selling things. Food below average. Like 4 small shrimp in a shrimp

cocktail Very small cabin. Bathroom shower was a tube thing. Too many people attending shows we wanted to see. Did not take any excursions. Too many negatives to make the trip enjoyable.

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Dec 18, 2012

Western Caribbean

It took us over 5 hours to get on and off the ship. I had to call for a wheel chair. This is a mega ship and the New Orleans terminal just not big enough for this ship. You often had to wait in line to get any place then a photographer blocked entrances to the dinning room and the only deck suitable to get from one end of the ship to the other was blocked with tables selling things. Food below average. Like 4 small shrimp in a shrimp

cocktail Very small cabin. Bathroom shower was a tube thing. Too many people attending shows we wanted to see. Did not take any excursions. Too many negatives to make the trip enjoyable.

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Jun 23, 2012

Eastern Mediterranean

We hosted a small group of 16 passengers on this amazing cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean. Our group was in 8 total cabins on the Navigator - 5 balconies (9346, 8572, 8574, 8576 and 8578) and 3 inside cabins (9347,8385 and 7349). Our personal balcony cabin 9346 was a category D2 Superior Oceanview with a Balcony. This category had a little extra room over the standard balcony, a great view and was very comfortable as home base for exploring these

historical ports. This cruise is all about historical, ancient sites, art, food, beer and wine. The food on the ship was amazing. We saved our money and went to the early dining - incredible food. No need to spend extra money on the other gastronomy options. Save your money for shore excursions! We had a Category D2 superior balcony, cabin number 9346 plus 7 other cabins in our group. The onboard activities were wonderful. Enjoyed the spa, the exercise center, the climbing wall, the jogging track and all onboard entertainment. In Athens, hire a private driver and avoid the crowds. Ephesus is a must. Shop til you drop in Crete. Get a scarf in Sicily.

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Mar 19, 2012

Eastern Cribbean

We are diamond members on Royal Caribbean and this was the least favorite curise we have taken. The menus were not very good and the entertainment was not good. They had one band that was good, but only did jazz and blues. After about three songs it all sounds the same. The rooms were clean and the service was great as usual. We are not big on shore excursions, but I did go on the Zip Line at Labidee. It was very exciting and worth every penney.

My wife and I are meat and potato types, so the food was just too much gormet for our tastes. We only ate in the dinning room twice. Clean. We like inside rooms so they are a little crowded. The shows are good. We were thrilled to have Ricky Nelson's twin sons give a tribute to theis dad. What memories! The rest of the entertainment was not up to normal standards on RCL. If you go to Labidee the zip line is great. Very exciting! Since we have to fly to Ft. Lauderdale we took this cruise because it came in on the same day our cruise on Holland departed. If you have to spend that much to fly might as well take two cruises.

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Mar 12, 2012

Eastern Carribean

Excellent! We are usually resort type of people and I must say that the Cruise was beautiful! You could be a busy or a quiet as you wanted. At no point in time did you feel pressured into doing anything that you did not want to do. We danced until dawn, had drinks from beer to champagne, ate hotdogs to the best of steaks and seafood. The food is the best I have ever had! I sure miss it very much! And all you can eat as well! We had an

outside balcony and it was beautiful with lots of storage! Anything you wanted to do you could on this Cruise The Saint-Martin's beach trip and also the beach tour in Labadee Haiti! To put it short and sweet~ Excellent! We had the 8 day cruise and everything from boarding to leaving was wonderful! The "My TIme Dining' is the way to go as you pick what time you want to eat and do this on line as you will have no problems when you get there!

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Feb 20, 2012

Caribbean

Our first cruise ever. Beautiful ship lovely stateroom even without a window. food average service great Very crowded at times elevators had long wait. Entertainment very good. Ports good The food was average.My husband & another gentleman at our table returned the steak as inedible. All the food was too salty. Desserts were fair. The service in the dining room was excellent. If. Only the food was as good as the waiter Joseph.

the Windjammer offered lavish amounts of average food. Crowded difficult to find a table. Never the less it was wonderful to be served . The Dining room was elegant sparkling chandeliers comfortable seats and lovely music. The room was wonderful. Plenty of hot water great water pressure. Bed was a little hard but ok. Very comfortable clean well planned space not cramped at all. So much to choose from. The shows at night in the Metro were great. Comics excellent singers & dancers Broadway quality. .the Bolero had great Latin band. the poolside bands were good but played Top 40 Pop hits constantly. The dance lessons were fun. The pace was a little frantic but there were quiet places to relax everywhere. Zipline at Labadee was exhilarating not to be missed. The ship is lovely ,service great , food fair. I was not prepared for the constant marketing onboard for everything. I had a great massage in the Spa but it ended up being close to $400.00. We are already planning another cruise with RCL

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Jan 29, 2012

Caribbean

A total of 36 members of our community participated in this 7-day cruise, which visited Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Falmouth (Jamaica), and Labadee (Haiti). The cruise staff were extremely friendly and helpful, and the embarkation and disembarkation process was both rapid and efficient. The specialty restaurant "Chops Grille" offered what the majority of our group believed was the finest meal we have ever experienced on any cruise ship. In general,

food was good, but not great, in both variety and taste. Entertainment was good, with the exception of the Ice Dancing performance, which was outstanding. That said, a major negative was the fact that RCCL, and specifically, the Navigator, permitted smoking in the casino on all sea days. In addition, smoking was allowed on balconies, much to the displeasure of non-smokers in adjacent cabins, and along one side of the pool area as well as on the walking track on the 4th deck. This included cigars! None of the 36 members of our group smoke and all indicated that this would be a major factor in determining if we ever used RCCL again. Unlike its subsidiary, Celebrity, or Holland-America, RCCL does not allow ANY alcoholic beverages, including wine, to be brought on board. Overall, a good, but not great, experience but the smoke from tobacco still provides the single biggest irritant and cause for pause before considering a future cruise with RCCL. We all took advantage of the Chops Grille, which offered outstanding quality in both selection and taste, presented by an extremely attentive and personable wait-staff. Otherwise the food in the main dining room as well as in the Windjammer restaurant was good but not great. The wait-staff, again, was extremely friendly and accommodating. A peeve about Johnny Rockets, which is essentially a hamburger joint, required a $4.95 fee just to enter. Our entire group of 36 declined to patronize the place. Most of our group opted for balcony rooms. Compared with cabins on other cruise line ships, we found considerably more storage space, although the total size of the cabin was similar to others. The balcony was not as deep as on other ships. Members of our group participated in a miniature golf tournament, which was free, as well as in several trivia-like games. One of the coordinators did not appear to fully understand what he was doing. The ship advertised that it had a golf driving simulator, but we opted not to use it when we learned that there was an added charge and reservations were required. As noted above, we avoided the casino on sea days, when smoking was permitted. From a purely business profit standpoint, it is hard to understand why RCCL permits this. None of the 36 members of our group use any tobacco products, and I am willing to bet that the vast majority of the passengers do not either. Even on "non-smoking" days, the aroma still lingered. Moreover, a number of the RCCL staff have to work in such an environment on a repeated basis. A number of us opted for an excursion to Montego Bay in Jamaica, which included a snack break at a very picturesque ocean-front restaurant and a stop at an up-scale outdoor shopping mall. No bargains to be had, but an enjoyable trip nonetheless. Having been to Grand Cayman before, several of us chose to hire a local guide/driver for a tour of the island, rather than booking through RCCL, and saved a considerable amount of money in the process. The RCCL port area in Falmouth, Jamaica is filled with a variety of shops and a safe environment. The RCCL beach in Labadee is a must-see. Overall, a good time was had by all as we took our annual escape from winter, but as I indicated above, we would have to carefully consider using RCCL again, unless and until they dramatically changed their policy with respect to smoking.

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Dec 2, 2011

western caribbean

Good Experience overall. The do need to improve in many areas. First, I would like to mention that I'm not a picky eater at all, but I really didn't find the food at the main restaurants good at all. I was expecting more seafood choices like Lobster or a good quality fish and they didn't have it. The has prime rib one night and it didn't taste or looked like prime rib. We decided to eat at the Windjamer buffet and it was much better and more

variety. We love to dance and my kids are 13 & 15 and normally in every cruise we go, there are Disco nights for families. They only had one of these and it was at the Royal Promenade which was so packed that you couldn't even walk. The clubs were open for 18 and over at 11pm so we couldn't go. They do have teen clubs but most of the time they were just playing games with the kids. Excursion were nice but very expensive. We took a tour in Grand Cayman for $20 pp and it was great. The cruise price was $69 pp. Overall, it was good. I did have a bad experience with my luggage. They lost it and my kids were without clothes for 2 days. They finally found it but didn't even take to my room. I had to pick it up from the office.

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Aug 30, 2011

Mediterranean Cruise

There was a ton of stuff to do! I loved that there were 2 pool areas, one reserved only for adults! This was really important because there were a lot of kids...and a lot of kids in the pool equals DIRTY pools! I have to hand it to RC, because every single evening they drained each and every pool and jacuzzi and cleaning it and refilled it with clean water. There are servers walking around everywhere, all the time so if you ever needed anything

then you could just stop one and they would bring it to where you were. Fantastic! Everything was really great on the boat. About the actual cruise, I have only 2 complaints. - First, I am a working professional and I am used to getting up quite early, which was the case for the cruise, and all of the really fun stuff to do was kind of late for me. For example, there was an "Adult Treasure Hunt" that I missed because it started at 11pm. I know I am lame, but I was so tired. Staying in the sun all day can really tire a person out! - Second, the constant pushing of sales in your face really became overwhelming. There were always stands out with stuff for sale and if you are strong enough you can simply overlook them and it doesn't really bother you that much. However, I booked a pedicure, and on the last day a haircut. Both the estitician and the stylist pushed pretty heavy for the sales of products. Both tried to sell me something for the "dark circles" under my eyes, (which i don't see and neither do any of my friends) and cellulite. Thank you very much, made me very very uncomfortable. I didn't ask for their opinions on any of this, and when I said no, they kept pushing. The estetician wouldn't let it go....she grabbed my leg and started squeezing to convince me I needed to spend 600 dollars or so on this product. Very rude. We would do this cruise again, but we look forward to other RC cruises in the future and we would pick excursions more carefully next time. The food served was far better than I expected! We had 2 waiters (and a "head waiter" that we never even saw). The service was pretty good, but it felt like they kept interrupting our conversations to say something they thought was funny. Felt like they were trying too hard. But the service was very good. Was a little annoyed we were asked to tip the head waiter when we never even saw him. The highlight of the dining hall were the couple that we met at our table. They were fascinating people! And we are all now friends on facebook! We had the top deck, sea view double room and it was amazing! Very clean and we were surprised at how much they could do with such little space. The room did not feel small, it was quite comfortable. The service of the room was also impeccable we tipped her extra special. We took 2 excursions. - First we took the 7 hour tour of Taormina and Mount Etna. Very disappointing! First of all, the way it works is they take your booking in advance, then because there are so many people doing the excursions they have to sign you in a the theater, and they give you stickers with numbers on them that correlate to your guide. They gave the four of us stickers of a tour that had already left, so we almost missed our tour (keep in mind there are no refunds if you miss your tour!) Mount Etna was a total bust! We happened to go on a day that the volcano actually erupted a little and we didn't see it. Then when we got to the highest point tour buses could go, they set us free for about an hour. We were starving so decided to eat, but the only place to eat up there was one guy with one grill that took 30 minutes to cook us burgers and sausages and still EVERYTHING WAS RAW! Also the cannoli we got were like 4 days old...gross. so we paid 65 euros for lunch and we didn't even eat. Then we climbed the part of mount etna to one of the plateaus and it left a lot to be desired. The second half of the tour was better, Taormina is a beautiful little town. We were very disappointed that we didn't have more time there, i think a total of about an hour. The tour guide was okay, though it was a bit annoying how she kept repeating sentences, felt like she was trying to fill the time. We would not do this tour again. We would opt for the shorter Taormina tour instead. - Second excursion we took was for 4 hour tour of Ephesus. This is the one that we REALLY looked forward to. This time sign in went better, we made sure to ask if our tour had left or not and they kind of looked at us like we were crazy. The tour guide started off great. He was funny, knowledgable, and kept us engaged...on the bus. When we go to the site however, we couldn't hear him really and it felt like he was running through...which isn't good because it was very slippery and someone in our party slipped and fell (it wasn't me :) ). Ephesus was really beautiful and very interesting. The best part was that the site itself had a free show (about 5 minutes long) which was pretty cool. After the site, we got back on the bus and were taken to a "demonstration" on Turkish rugs. The guide set it up perfectly. Said, "the Turkish custom is to offer you a drink" and that it was what they all did when you walked into a shop. The Demonstration was really an hour long sales pitch. Though very interesting, we were a little annoyed that we were forced into this situation when we could have stayed in Ephesus or gone back to the boat and had fun. My friend took the bait, asked how much they run for, then they took us to another showroom where they tried really hard to make a sale. They wanted 12,000 Euros for one of these rugs...and before my friend had a chance to respond, the seller said, "I don't like when clients try to bargain down the pric." Well, that did it for me. We were about to leave when the seller went down to 8000, but we weren"t interested anymore. As we were leaving, the guide came running out of the shop, grabbed me by the shoulder and said, "I can probable get you a better deal". It was a desperate move. It made me look at the guide in a totally different light. In the end I don't think we would take this tour again.

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Mar 16, 2011

Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise. It was an amazing experience for my wife and me! Overall, the entire staff was very accomodating and hospitable. We could not have asked for better service. The cruise was way beyond our expectations. We dined primarily at the Windjammer Cafe because it fit our schedule regarding activities. The food was delectable. The selection of fruits, veggies, meats, pasta, etcetera was great. Also, late evening snacks at the

Promenade Cafe were so worth it; the sandwiches were delish! We drank a variety of hot tea beverages...so good! Our stateroom attendant Claudiu was very attentive to our needs. He made us feel "at home" and checked on us regularly to make sure that we were enjoying our vacation as well. He was very diligent regarding his assigned tasks. There were so many activities to participate in, but not enough time to enjoy them all! We truly enjoyed the entertainment at the Metropolis every evening; the singers, musicians, dancers, comedians, and the Cruise Director Mike were the best! The ice skating show in Studio B was so amazing. In Labadee, Haiti, we took a cultural tour. It was the first time that we had taken a water taxi. The tour guide gave us the history of Haiti as we traveled along the way. When we arrived on land, we were welcomed with a complimentary rum punch. We had the privilege of learning how the natives build their homes, prepare foods, and artistically create crafts. In Falmouth, Jamaica, we were warmly greeted by the natives as we arrived on their land--the marching band, the dancers, etc. We also took a cultural excursion called the Outameni Experience via an air-conditioned tour bus to learn more about the history and culture of its people. The Outameni Experience tour was phenomenal! The sampling of the cuisine was the best part! Don't miss the cultural tours! One can learn so much about the various ethnic groups that make up the beautiful islands of Labadee and Falmouth. Overall, we had a fantastic vacation cruising on RCCL. We are making plans to take our second cruise already!

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Mar 5, 2011

Caribbean

My Mom won a cruise - so this review is based with this in mind. The ship itself was wonderful - we had an oceanview stateroom. Staff, food, amenities, etc. - all wonderful. I would definitely go on another cruise (with my husband this time!), but to ports that are a bit more developed. Something like Alaska or maybe even a transatlantic cruise would be nice. I enjoyed the days we were at sea the most. Ask before buying things on

board the ship! I paid for a "boot camp" - but then was charged an additional 'gratuity'. What?? Also, be sure you ask what the lecture on fitness is for - ours was a one-hour infomercial for purchasing products...what a waste of time. Stay away from ports that are built exclusively for a cruise line. That was our experience with Labadee, Haiti and Falmouth, Jamaica. I would not recommend an excursion unless you review them online first. I would highly recommend you NOT pay for excursions while going to these ports, because it's simply a waste of money. I actually got a full refund on the excursion to Mayfield Falls (Jamaica). Long story - but just trust me on this!

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By Jean_CR

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Feb 28, 2011

Western Carribean

Used Park & Go with our AAA and got it for $10.50 per day. We parked and they literally picked us up, loaded our luggage right from our parking spot and dropped us off at dock, they even took the luggage off the shuttle for us. Embarkation was a breeze...used the online check-in and was on the ship in 20 minutes. Had lunch in the Windjammer, the reviews about the Windjammer were on track as the food there is in line with a buffet restaurant fare.

The dining room however was very good, service was amazing with the very friendly and capable, Mimeno from Bombay. Tried a variety of soups,appetizers and entrees which were all very good. The only entree that my husband didn't care for was the calzone. Had asked for a four top table and got there to find a six top - it worked out though as the other party never showed all week. Our stateroom was a Promenade cabin 6263 which was directly over the Cafe. Our room steward took good care of our rooms, however, was not as interactive with us as we have enjoyed in the past. Very convenient location as the stairs and elevators were just a few steps away. we had NO problem with noise from the bars on the Promenade. We even watched the sail away party on the Promenade from our cabin window. I usually enjoy the evening shows, however, this particular ship the song and dance shows lacked luster. The Mosiac group was AWESOME...I would pay to see them again!! The Ice Dancing show is very good as was the comedian Carl Banks. We have cruised Carnival several times and they seem to have a bit more going on in the way of adult late night shows than RCCL. We did not use the pools or spa so no comment on that area. Ports of call...Labadee, Haiti was very beautiful, we purchased tickets for the Dragon Alpine Coaster. Cost is $19 per cart. Enjoyed the beach there!! Next port was Falmouth, Jamaica - this was only the second ship to come into this newly developed port. Construction still in process, but very, very nice port. The final project will be awesome. We booked a double excursion with Chukka for the Ziplining and River Tubing. Guide Anthony was fantastic and made the ziplining a very enjoyable experience. Bubly was a great guide for the river tubing portion of the excursion. Downfall was having to wait 35 minutes for people from our shuttle van to shop and the transportation guide did nothing to rush them along....leaving the rest of the group no time to shop closer to the ship in the brand new shops and having to run as we were late reboarding the ship. I would sail on the Navigator again without hesitation and would definately like to return to Labadee and Falmouth ports.

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By Jon_CR

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Jan 25, 2011

cozumel

We were not that pleased with the ship overall. Trouble started when trying to get to the pier. Royal Caribbean never provided a pier or terminal number so we had no idea where we were going. Luckily, we found our ship despite having a frustrated taxi driver. We didn't really expect an experiance similar to cattle hearding at check-in. The check-in process we rather impersonal and you felt extremely pushed around. There were bits of information that

were not provided before hand that could have cut down on confusion. It appeared that either others didn't read their materials or expected to be hand-lead through the process. The cruise line could have avoided this with a simple fact sheet rather than a huge volume of orinted material that they call your paperwork. Once on the boat we quickly realized that the common areas of the boat were extremely under-sized for the capacity of the boat. I really can't think of any time on board that I wasn't shoulder to shoulder with somebody else. The fitness room was not large enough to accomodate those that actually wanted to use it, even during off-hours. The dining areas were chaotic to say the least. Too many people in too small of an area, despite out best efforts to dine at off hours. Everywhere on the boat was overly crowded. The elevators were packed at all times. Eventually we just started taking the stairs everywhere. To further the issues, it seemed that the air conditioning was broke. Despite cool outside air, the interior of the boat was extremely hot and humid. Most of the staff seemed guff and there more as crowd control rather than help. There were two exceptions Kewin at the Champagne bar and Fernando at the Two Poets bar. We have been to Cozumel 3 times before and were pretty happy with the location of the boat pier. Which ever pier we docked at this time left a lot to be desired. I think it was the "International Pier". In any event, there really wasn't anything around it to experience aside from stacks of vendor stores and masses of heckling locals trying to scam you into buying their stuff. At some points it was boarderline scary. We did find a couple things to do within walking distance of the pier, but as with anything tourist related everything was over-priced. I can't put all of the blame on the boat. Partly it was the other guest's behavior that made the experience bad. When you have that many people in a confined space for that long it isn't long before people start to turn to base instincts. People were pushy, rude, with no manners, outwardly drunk and annoying and exceptionally loud in common areas. People were handling and allowing their children to handle food with their bare hands on the buffet. Parents refused to discipline their children, and seeing kids standing on their chairs and yelling or crying or whatever else while their parents ignored them became a common scene in dining areas. Overall, this was not the experience that my fiance and I expected to have when planning a "relaxing" vacation. We both on multiple occasions stated that we couldn't wait to get back to home and work due to the experience. I would not recommend the cruise to anybody that is looking for a relaxing time. The food in my opinion was terrible. It was similar to what you would expect from Old Country Buffet or Golden Corral. At first we thought it might be due to the fact that we tended not to eat in the dining room and thought about doing that instead, but we quickly found out that the food ( at least entres) were the same no matter what section of the boat you dined in. Much of the food looked as though it had set out before and didn't look fresh. It was also found that almost all of the entres were extremely bland. We expected some sorts of exotic foods that we don't normally see, with some sort of higher preparation than what you would find in a soup kitchen, but instead found greasy and tough steaks, JTM frozen hamburgers, chinese buffet style deserts, and massive amounts of various forms of potatos. The breakfast eggs were obviously some sort of mix, because I had never had scambled eggs with that sort of texture in my life. All in all, I think we pushed away more unfinished food than we ate. The stateroom appearance was ok. We paid extra for a balcony room. It had enough space and seemed in decent enough condition. The two things that upset me were the bed and the balcony itself. The bed was hard as a rock, and the pillows seemed to have no filling. I found it extremely hard to sleep and felt tired the entire trip. The balcony was nice except for the fact that the doors were very loud to close and the partitions between other rooms did not offer much in the was of privacy or noise reduction. You could hear people talking as if they were in your own room. We also had problems with our toilet. Sometimes it took several attempts at pushing the button to make it flush as all. We did not participate in any onboard activities mainly because we figured they would be over-booked fitting the theme thus-far. We have done Passion Island in the in cozumel in the past and liked it. We didn't go this time because the weather looked bad. Overall the trip were terrible. Beyond the issues with the boat, we also had issues with our airline that compouned the frustration. Both of us wished that we hadn't wasted the vaction time at work or the money spent on the vacation. Sadly, I'm glad to be sitting back here at my desk. I doubt that we will attempt a trip like this again in the future, if we do, I can't see us using Royal Caribbean.

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Jan 12, 2011

miami to west Caribbean

My husband and I, along with our two children ( aged 11 and 14), voyaged out for our 5th cruise Our Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas from Dec 9-12th. We arrived in Miami the night before our cruise and stayed at the JW Marriott, which is great. Had dinner at the Oceanaire Seafood Room and I must say it was exceptional food...the lobster was great!! The next day we used the shuttle service. Very friendly. They were waiting for us and were

knowledgeable of the cruise we were taking. Staff... Wonderful.... Everyone from Officers to maintenance personnel smiled and gave a "hello" when we passed. Let me just say again all the staff on the ship, is GREAT, but the wait staff in the main dining room makes you not want to leave your table. So professional, so talented, so friendly, so relaxing. Thanks Maria! Bars.. Two Poets is good for a before or after dinner drink and smoke..very nice staff...the strawberry daiquiri was to die for. Johnny Rockets: I love hamburgers...they gave large portions for the money..we were served right away. The cafe 50's theme was very cool. The kids loved it! The Windjammer offered a prime rib which was delicious. The attendants were always asking us if we needed anything. Very polite.. The Main Dining Room exceeded my expectations, from the staff to the food I can't compliment them enough. The portion size was a as expected....huge. And a beautiful room. There was plenty of things to do for the kids..golf and shuttle board..pools and more..very kid friendly..other activities The X Games, Rockin' Through the Decades.. Scavenger Hunts, Backstage Tour, The Art Walk, Win, Cruise or Draw, Sports Tournaments. Be sure to save time for the shows. I thought the entertainment was exceptional. Everything from the Ice Show to the Belly Flop Competition. There's not one thing we would have wanted to miss. And, by the way, the shows far exceeded my expectations! Entertainment: 1st night was Dean Austin comedian. He was very friendly and a great laugh. 2nd The show called All Access..They were a bunch of young singers and dancers. Very good. 3rd Randy Cabral..the comedy juggler..I had seen him somewhere I said to my husband...it was Jay Leno...he was very funny..love the paddle ball trick. Overall a great ship with friendly service. The crew was always enthusiastic and happy. And we made some great friends!

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Nov 20, 2010

Repositioning Cruise

Being our second Royal Caribbean cruise, I expected a clean ship, decent service and good entertainment. What was provided was a clean ship, fair to excellenet service depending on who was taking care of you and entertainment which was the best I've seen in 10 cruises. The old concept of being pampered on vacation simply doesn't exist on these large cruise lines. We enjoyed the wide promenades with deck chairs so we had a place to watch the ocean

and read. Some crew members went out of their way to make you happy, while others ignored you as they passed on deck, or passed you in a hallway. Cruise staff was especially good, especially the younger members who ran the various activities. Food was certainly plentiful and if you kept to the basics, i.e., grilled chicken, grilled salmon, or even a small steak, you could not go wrong. Some of the entrees were overdone with sauces and attempts at gourmet palates. Our tastes run to the simple. One night in ordering Rigatoni Pomodoro (which I expected would have tomatoes or a tomato sauce) I got rigatoni with some thin strips of red and green pepper? Hello? Despite the waiter's attempt to tell me that was what I ordered, I managed to prevail and got a decent Ham Sandwich on wheat bread. Desserts ran to the gourmet once again, and we were better off with either sugar free sherbert or ice cream, or the cheese plate. Buffet food was typical for a large mass market operation, but the corned beef hash and eggs and the coffee for breakfast was excellent. Wonderful bran muffins were a treat when you could find them. Personnel at the buffet could not do enough for you...ran for a second cup of coffee, replaced dropped silverware,etc. Stateroom quite spacious with a balcony which we used often. We noted that after 8 years service, the carpets and spread appeared worn or at least in need of a good shampoo. TV allowed you to check your shipboard account and this was a plus.Stewardess was wonderful and anticipated our needs. She provided anything we asked for and was extremely pleasant and attentive. We only participated in Trivia contests, a few lectures and the evening entertainment. The lecturer who spoke about cruise ships skimmed a lot of topics and left big holes in the development of cruising as a vacation style. Ocean liners and ships have been my hobby since my first cruise in 1959 and this gentleman only hit some of the high points. Trivia games were good. Evening show entertainment was outstanding. Did we really need to have a mens sexy leg contest? At least there was no "Gross Gut" contest as had been offered by another mass market cruise line. I suppose different strokes for different folks may be the phrase here, but good taste is never out of style. Excursions were average. Good guides and reasonable length of stops to explore and use the facilities. Overall a pretty fair value for the money. Highly recommend the verandah cabins which were only an additional $100 per person. Have a real problem with a ship 1,020 feet long and 3,100 passengers. Long waits for the elevators and quite a few pushers and shovers were aboard. Manners never go out of style but a lot of fellow passengers didn't have a clue and always seemed in a hurry. You're on vacation, take it easy. It wasn't as if the dining room was going to run out of food. You had to get to the show lounge at least 40 minutes before show time to get a decent seat with reasonable sight lines. Seven day transatlantic crossing was nice...if a big long. The port in France was a waste of time as everything was closed due to it being Sunday. Barcelon was nice, Cartegena was ok, Malaga was a pleasant town and Tenerife was great...pulling in at 0530 in the morning was like seeing jewels in the distance with all the twinkling lights. Royal Caribbean needs to simplify its dinner entrees and work with some crew members to be more friendly. However, the Captain was very outgoing and was availabe for chats and seen frequently about the ship. He would pose for photos with passengers and is reminiscent of the savoir faire and friendliness of some of the old transatlantic captains when the Atlantic ferry had its heyday.

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Oct 1, 2010

Eastern Carribean

We had a wonderful 12 days overall. We will never forget the ports visited or the time spent with family getting to each destination. The ship is beautiful and the cabin was much more comfortable than we expected. We have traveled extensively, but never cruised. Using a cruise took the worry out of traveling to a destination like Egypt. I doubt we would have ever gone to Egypt without a cruise, and we had a wonderful time. We though of the

boat as our oasis and really enjoyed getting on board every evening. The food is not gourmet, but it is not bad either. The staff and service in the formal dining room were excellent. Meal choices were provided for all tastes and dietary restrictions. I found myself eating the "healthy" meal selection by choice and they good....not gourmet, but good. The main issue with food is the Windjammer Buffet. We avoided this dinning experience whenever possible, the food is typical buffet....lukewarm, bland, and by the pound....but it is edible. The problem is the crowding and poor ability to get to a table. I don't understand why running a buffet is so difficult. We actually began to joke when it was necessary to go to the Windjammer because of a commitment or activity that it was time to "Jam" at the Jammer. That was the experience. Crowding and difficulty finding a table. Take my advice and just use the main dinning room for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You will be much happier. Great service and views. We had first class views and tables with no crowds by simply going to the formal dinning room (we didn't even need to be specially dressed). I never understood why more people didn't use this option. The cruise line really needs to work on the buffet.... While the wine selection was OK...(US table wines), I was a little disappointed to be in Europe, drinking middle of the road Ca wines.....especially since we are from Ca. Why don't they have a local wine selection? In Italy drinking Ca wines seemed silly to me. Very comfortable, not large but we were very happy. We booked a cheap room and had no problems. You really aren't in the room all that often anyway....Why pay for a window when you are sleeping? The best views were on the 14th floor where we read, played cards, had drinks, and chatted. My husband even had enough TV to keep him happy while falling asleep. Plenty to do for people of all ages and tastes. We enjoyed playing miniature golf in the evening during the second dinner seating. The course was empty and it was a good way to stretch after dinner. The pools were a little crowded for my taste, but very refreshing after a long hot excursion. The activities staff was great and worked to keep everybody involved. We only used the cruise lines for excursions in Egypt and Turkey. Everywhere else we managed on our own. Hiring locally and exploring was much more economical and we had some great experiences we would not have had while driving around in a bus. This curise has lots of walking however you decide to visit ports, and often on uneven terrain. Take good shoes, keep hydrated, and if you have issues with walking in the heat be careful when choosing tours. My legs were tired, but I wouldn't change anything we did. Don't be afraid to try things on your own, just be careful not to over extend and be late. Listen to safety advice, but have an adventure. I could not beleive the people who didn't leave the ship in Egypt. Why travel all that way, spend all the money and time and miss a country like Egypt? The bus ride through Cairo and Alexandria was worth the trip. Don't be afraid to negotiate, and by all means try a local meal. You can eat bland buffet food anywhere. We loved this trip, with a cruise you only see the highlights, but what great highlights they were.....PS we booked our own taxis to and from the airport to the port in Rome (when we arrived in Rome) and it was ~half the price of using the Cruise arranged transfer service. With 4 of us in a cab we paid $40.00, including tips, each for a one way trip to and from our airport hotel with no issues or delays. Make sure to spend some time away from formal excursions to have a real local experience away from a busload of tourists, but use the tours in Egypt for safety and because of the distances required when traveling. What a great experience.

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By Ray_CR

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Sep 4, 2010

Transatlantic

This was a back to back Adventure. I sailed from Miami on April 10, 2010 and ended in Civitavecchia where I took a tour to the Vatican and returned to the ship for the second journey which took many to Egypt. The food overall was very good and so was the service. My stateroom on the eight deck had a balcony from where I observed during the first three days flying fishes and for the remanding four days at sea unfortunately only garbage ( plastic

bottles, fishing nets, etc). The stateroom was immaculate thanks to the stateroom attendant. Onboard activities were excellent beginning with the Ice ring show, the shows at the theater and the Promenade parades. I booked the tours from Royal Caribbean and I must say they were all excellent. I visited Monaco, Nice,Pompeii,Vesuvio Volcano Athens, Rhodes, Ephesus, Alexandria, Cairo and Taormina( Sicily). On each and every tour we were provided with complimentary bottle of water and a lunch bag and the tour guides were knowledgeable and professional. This was a back to back Adventure. I sailed from Miami on April 10, 2010 and ended in Civitavecchia after making stops at the Canary Islands, Barcelona, Villefranche. At Civitavecchia I took a tour to the Vatican and returned to the ship for the second journey which took me to Egypt. I LOVED THE TRIP SO MUCH THAT I BOOKED ANOTHER TRANSATLANTIC TRIP ON THE LIBERTY OF THE SEAS LEAVING MIAMI ON APRIL 2, 2011 AND ENDING IN BARCELONA.

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Jul 29, 2010

east med

This was our first cruise and we had a good time, we will come back for sure because the service and friendliness of the waiters were great. The entertainment was spectacular at the shows both skating and regular! The cruise director, Pietro was great and funny[ i actually added him on FB! The Skating show was really cool and worth it The Food was pretty good but if you get a steak, and you dont want it dry you shouldn't go with well done! The pasta

was great and also the wine! Most of the other foods were pretty good 2. it was small but the rooms were tidy and would form a animal out of towels! They did a great job They had great activities at the pool and at the sports court i played sports and participated in them The excursions when i went was messina, kusadasi, athens and crete were great escurisons we always went out sight seeing or went tot he beach greeeeeeeeeeeat

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Jul 29, 2010

eastern meditterainean

It was our first cruise and fore sure not our last on royal caribbean we had a great time my 2 kids had fun and my teenage son had a great time my wife had a great time 2! we loved the entertainement on ice and regular! both shows were spectacular the cruise director Pietro was great and funny i actually added him on FB It was pretty good but if you order a steak and u dont want it dry i prefer u dont get it well done, but the pasta was great

and pretty much everything including the apeteizers and the desserts alo th waitors were friendly and doing their job well it was really small espeacially the bathroom but it was tidy and the workers were really nice they often formed a animal out of towel to greet ous there were great activities at the sports court and at the pool, i often participated at the sports court When i went the itinerary was messina, kusadasi, athens and crete all the paces our family went to sight seeing and at the beach it was great

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Jul 29, 2010

eastern meditterainean

It was our first cruise and fore sure not our last on royal caribbean we had a great time my 2 kids had fun and my teenage son had a great time my wife had a great time 2! we loved the entertainement on ice and regular! both shows were spectacular the cruise director Pietro was great and funny i actually added him on FB It was pretty good but if you order a steak and u dont want it dry i prefer u dont get it well done, but the pasta was great

and pretty much everything including the apeteizers and the desserts alo th waitors were friendly and doing their job well it was really small espeacially the bathroom but it was tidy and the workers were really nice they often formed a animal out of towel to greet ous there were great activities at the sports court and at the pool, i often participated at the sports court When i went the itinerary was messina, kusadasi, athens and crete all the paces our family went to sight seeing and at the beach it was great

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Jun 30, 2010

Western Mediterranean

My family and I flew into Rome 3 days before the cruise to make sure that there would be no surprises that might cause us to be late and miss the departure day. I feel that this was a great idea and would recommend it to anyone who is traveling from the states or from a cruise where they have to travel to the port. We sailed out of Civitavecchia Italy on the 20th and our ports of call were Genoa Italy, Villefranche France, Barcelona Spain, Mallorca

Spain and the island of Sardinia in Italy. Overall I had a great time on the cruise. The service was great and the boat was very nice. The excursions overall were enjoyable and we had great weather the captain even changed the course to avoid clouds for us. The staff was very professional and were always there to help with a smile. I have with Royal Caribbean 3 times and would not hesitate to do so again. Overall I would say that the food on the Navigator was very good. My only discrepancy were the ways that they served steaks. When you order a steak the only options are medium towards well or medium towards rare which basically means leather or medium. I made the unfortunate mistake of asking for towards well the first night and towards well with a little pink the second and got leather both times. My next steak I got towards rare and it was more to my liking with a little pink in the middle. Aside from that i enjoyed the dinners in the dining hall and in the Windjammer. In both cases you can eat as much as you want and if I saw multiple things on the menu that i thought sounded good I ordered them and would eat what I could the waiters and waitresses were happy to provide what I asked for. They would remember my drink orders from the previous days and have my soda waiting for me when I arrived. The Windjammer had great food as well and it was nice because you can go there pretty much anytime of the day and get as much basic food as you want buffet style if you don't feel like changing into slacks for the dining room. My favorite part about the food though was the room service and they promenade food. This was awesome because it was all free and you could get it at all hours of the day. There was a service fee for ordering room service after 3 am but I was asleep by then and you can go to the promenade at any hour and get pizza sandwiches or cookies if you don't feel like waiting for food. The only price of the room service was the tip and I usually gave him about 5 dollars and you can order as much as you want. Another thing that I would recommend when it comes to the dining hall on the Navigator of the Seas is with the eating times. They offer two different options for the dining hall anytime eating and an assigned time. My family had an assigned time and it was 6:45 pm. My personal opinion was that this time was to early. Often after a long day of excursions we would get back to the boat around 4:30pm and be so tired we would just fall asleep in our rooms. When we woke up about an hour or two later it would be time for dinner which is about an hour and a half long. This did not really leave us with an time to lounge around on the deck in the sun because it would be set by the time we got out. I would recommend either getting a later eating time or using the my time dining because it is nice to take advantage of the sun while it is out and eat at a later time. I was in stateroom 7528 which is a balcony stateroom on the 7th floor. I shared this room with my younger brother who is 16. It had 2 twin beds which could have been pushed together to make a queen I believe. Overall I thought the stateroom satisfied our needs and I had a few small complaints but in the end you get what you pay for and I am sure these would have been taken care of if we had spent more money. The room was a decent size but I would have given some of that up to get a bigger bathroom. The shower was very tiny and the whole room was quite cramped. the toilet made a sound like a jet plane firing up its engine every time you flush which could be inconvenient if someone wants to use it during the night and others are asleep. I do have to commend our room attendant who in my opinion did a great job. My brother and I are 16 and 20 respectively which does not put us in the neatest stages of our lives. Our room was a mess for the majority of the time and it was definitely a relief to come and see our clothes which had at one time been thrown all over the floor folded on the couch. We also had the standard towel animals as well. Another discrepancy that I had was that the bed was a little to short for me. I am 6'3 and my feet hung off the edge. It was not that big of a deal but anyone who is taller than me might have a tough time. I felt that the onboard activities for this particular cruise were very good and I feel this was only because it was out of Rome Italy. I think that if it had been out of the US it would not have been as fun for me because Royal Caribbean requires all its passengers to be over 21 to drink on the ship. If you sail out of Europe your parents can sign a waiver allowing you to consume alcohol on the ship. Drinking is not that big of a deal but I feel like it helps someone who is between the ages of 18 and 20 blend in with the older crowd that we have to hang out with in the clubs and bars. The teen club is for kids from 13-17 and you have to be 21 to drink which kind of leaves 18-20 year olds in there own niche where they cannot hangout with older people who partying and drinking but they cannot hangout with younger people either. This was not a problem in the Mediterranean but in the Caribbean it could be definitely sign the waiver for your kid if your taking him or her. There were other activities that you could do other than drinking as well. I did play bingo with my family and also used the basketball court frequently. I feel like the average age on the basketball court was about 16 or 17 and I was surprised at the quality of games that we were able to get going. I consider myself a pretty good player and the people weren't really good but it wasn't boring either. The casino was another place that I like to go but me being 20, on a limited budget, and not winning immediately I was not able to spend as much time in there as I had liked because I was wiped out pretty quickly. The tournaments seemed like a good time they had slot, blackjack, and poker tournaments. I also heard that the Quest game show and the love game show were very entertaining. I attended a few shows and found the comedian to be very funny and there was a hand shadow puppet guy who was awesome as well. I attended the mystery dinner in Portofino which had great food and I enjoyed the event as a whole but it was impossible to figure out who killed the guy they did not give nearly enough clues I had a great time for the most part on my excursions. The ones that I would highly recommend are free time in Nice and Monaco, and Beach time and cheese tasting in Sardinia. Those were by far my favorite because Nice is a great city to just relax grab some food and soak in the sun. The beach in Sardinia was great and for the cheese tasting our guide brought us to a nice vineyard where they make different types of cheese they gave us all kinds of meat, wine, bread, and cheeses to eat and followed it up with dessert and a cheese making demonstration. It was laid back and great for the final excursion. The food was excellent as well and all you can eat. I also would recommend visiting Cinque Terra in the Genoa port either on an excursion or by yourself either way I think would be good. If you have any questions feel free to comment on my youtube videos and I will be happy to answer them or give my opinion. Like I voiced before I thought the trip was tons of fun and would recommend it ton anyone. My only wish is that it was a little longer so that we could have had more days at sea. With all of the different interesting ports so close together it was hard to actually relax because there were so many tours that we wanted to go on and see the sites wince you never know when your going to come back to these places.

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Jun 24, 2010

Western Caribbeane

The staff was friendly, entertainment was alright, balcony cabin very comfortable, but the food was awful. There was no problem with crowds getting on or off the ship, that went smoothly. Main problem was when we docked in Toulon, where we were to meet the car rental people, they were not there. We had told them we would be in Toulon, but RC docked at another port about 25 minutes from the car rental company. So we had to take a $28 taxi both ways,

and that cut into a sightseeing There were many people who went to Marseille, and they felt that they lost time because of this, and of course they paid for their shore excursion. RC did offer us a 20% discount on a future cruise. awful very comfortable good we took the Cinque Terre excursion and were glad we did

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May 30, 2010

Mediterranean Cruise

This was our first European cruise. It was fabulous. The ship was large and clean. The staff great. The food was excellent with everything for any appetite. We had a junior suite with a balcony. The bed was surprisingly large. (We have a king size at home) and very comfortable. Lots of closet space. Very nice. We tried various things - they were a lot of fun. The grand egypt tour (an overnight in Luxor) was fantastic. It seems a little pricey

but it is well worth the money. The hotel is grand, and the tours - Valley of the Kings, Temples of Karnak and Luxor, camel rides at the Pyramids, the Sphinx, Cairo museum are everything that we wanted. The tour guide was excellent. Highy recommend this tour!!!!!!! The great thing about this cruise was that you went like crazy on the shore excursions and then you had a day a sea to recuperate and relax. This was a fabulous way to see Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and Sicily. My husband especially enjoyed Rhodes. This was a one in a lifetime vacation for us and worth every penny. The ports were fantastic, the ship (Navigator of the Seas) fabulous and the friends we made priceless.

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Feb 22, 2010

Cozumel

Overall - Trip experience was good but we were not told about the entertainment for the kids under 3. When we bought the tickets on phone, we were told, there will be plenty of entertainment for my 2 year old. I should have known better. There was NOT a single thing to keep him engaged. We asked for the baby sitter but we were out of luck as it was first come first serve. Guest service was friendly but they couldn't do anything, which I find very

hard to believe. We were told a sofa-bed will be there for 2 year old, but when we checked in the room, there was upper birth only, We had to have them in our bed all 5 days. Customer service was awful after we bought the ticket. If you have kids under 2, think twice or buy two room package. Food was good. our Chef was very good. he made sure we got good food. they called it Suite, but there was a curtain separating the bed with rest of the room. SMALL!!!. General room was bigger then my suite ( my friend got that, how lucky). Activities were OK. not great not bad either. If you have kids under 3, Think twice unless you have planned to baby sit on board by yourself.

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Feb 14, 2010

Cozumel and Belize

This was our first Cruise. The ship is amazing, spectacular. We had a Balcony room on Deck 6 and I was amazed at how big our balcony was. The bed was comfy and the staff was all wonderful. We ate in the dining room each night. The food was great! Lobster was good and the beef I had was always awesome. One night I got a pasta dish and it was also quite tasty. The Waiter and Asst Waiter were both great.. attentive. The asst Waiter helped make our

cruise memorable.. he's just a happy, delightful guy to be around. The food in the Windjammer for lunch could have been a tad bit better... but it was Buffet and good. Just thought seeing the same thing each day was a bit disappointing. Breakfast was always good. Great omelets! Loved our Stateroom. Comfy bed, ample balcony. Saw Ronn Lucas the Ventriliquist.. he was quite good. Not much on the Ballroom dancing but they were ok I guess. I didn't see the ice shows or any other shows In Cozumel we went on the island for a tour. stopped at El Mirador then to El Cedral.. on to Playa Mia beach. I actually don't recommend Playa Mia for swimming. There are a lot of rocks there..not good for swimming,. .. if you go, take some swim shoes. People were snorkeling which was probably good for that but not a good place to swim. It was beautiful there .. water was pretty If I were to go again I'd skip Cozumel and head for the mainland Belize was awesome! Went to the ruins of Xunantunich and had no idea we'd actually climb up the temple. We went up 13 stories.. awesome. The guide was informative. Saw a monkey in the trees and they yowl very loudly. .. kinda creepy in a way. This was a two hour ride to get to the ruins.. long ride but well worth it. Miramba lunch was pretty good. Nestled in an orange grove so it smelled wonderful :) We had some type of chicken seasoned with goya seasoning, cole slaw, rice with red beans and a fried plantain. My husband and I never thought we'd take a Cruise. This ship was awesome! It was quite windy but we really didn't feel it much and I worried about that. He even took the patch off after 3 days and was fine. The decor on the ship is outstanding. Staff is pleasant and attentive. The Food was good and plenty of it. The only thing I can think of to improve would be the ship's announcement system. It's hard to understand the captain when he speaks..., very muffled sounding. Loved the interactive TV.. thought that was a great idea. Can't wait to plan another cruise now.. hmm wonder where we'll go next?

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Feb 11, 2010

cozumel

Overall I found this cruise to be very pleasant. I was impressed with the beauty of the vessel, stunning art work throughout. I was very impressed with the friendliness of the staff. I never passed a staff member or officer that didn't greet me with a smile or nod. The overall layout of the ship was easy to navigate. Every elevator and stairwell has a ship display indicating fore and aft and where you were standing which helped eliminate trekking

in the wrong direction looking for your state room. The ships condition seemed well maintained although here and there you see signs of age...but not glaring and obvious. I noticed the hand rails on the balconies were completely bare wood with no varnish or urethane...i thought that was curious and kind of looked bad. Other than that the ship was stunning and clean. I never found a filthy public bathroom and i noticed they constantly check them and clean them. Also...being in health care i was impressed with the ships commitment to infection control. Every dining area has a Purell hand sanitizer and if you don't take a squirt you will get one anyway from the Maitre d'. My best take on the food is that it was average. I really cannot complain because i never went hungry..but if you are looking for high end gourmet fare (@ the price of this cruise how can you expect it?) you wont find it. First of all the dining room (nut cracker) was elegant! The food was good but not slam dunk fabulous. I had a decent steak/cooked to order but avoid choosing the steak on the alternative menu...it was tasteless and cheapish..my daughter ordered it and the waiter cheerfully exchanged it for another entree. Alejandro/Yi were wonderful and attentive. The selection of entrees were slim but I was never terribly dissappointed in the offerings. Potato gnocchi was ok but heavy...couldn't finish them. Other than that the portions were a little small but adequate..desserts were ok...average..keylime pie, creme brulee, cake, ice cream etc. We ate there every night and didn't bother with the specialty dining rooms. We were in 6244 which was right in view of the elevators mid/fore ship. I loved the location! Try it...you never get lost looking for you room down long corridors! We had a balcony which was nice...there were 3 of us in the room and we found it a little crampy but overall not bad. It was clean/smelled unused and the bathroom was really quite nice for a ship. Be aware of the shower control...I showered all week @lukewarm because I didn't realize the little dial with the red button is a scald protector and you have to move it toward you to mix hotter water in! Hmmm...got a hot shower the last day! If you are a smoker RCCL (smarter than the rest) allows you to smoke on your balcony as long as your door is closed. I never heard anyone complain about designated smoking areas...they are all over the ship and on port-side outside. Our cabin attendant was attentive and pleasant. We had a comfortable double bed with a pull down bunk which I ended up in 2 nights of the cruise to give my daughter a break. It is accessible by ladder so if you are physically challenged...don't try it! I found the ice show incredibly fun to watch and exciting! I have been on many cruises and have sat thru many cruise shows (begrudgingly because i find them typical and boring) but this show was awesome! Don't miss it. We also went to the Ball room dance show....not bad....nice costumes...decent singing and awesome dancing. The elderly lady next to me loved it....lots of old songs...etc. We didn't book any excursions but opted to just get off the ship and see what happens. We are not into the usual snorkel/site see things (been there and done them many times). When you get off in Cozumel you can pick up a cab any time and go any where..Usually people just head toward "downtown" and shop. We did exactly that...beware though...Cozumel merchants hound you constantly as you approach them. They are not rude...just persistent...it just gets sort of irritating after a full afternoon of it. Overall I would recommend this ship. It was clean/friendly and accommodating to both smokers and nonsmokers. The ice show was a big plus. The food is acceptable for the cost of this cruise! Hey you get what you pay for! Getting on and off the ship was easy! The cruise director was how I like em....not overly in your face every inch of the cruise! On deck servers did not (as many reviewers complain about) appear overly pushy! What else can I say....it was a nice cruise...not to long..but very nice. Happy cruising.....hope this helped! Oh by the way....the casino....no automatic dealers in blackjack...but you still cant win...dealers show tens/pictures ALL the time...it was so frustrating............good luck.

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Jul 15, 2009

Western Mediterranean

An absolutely awesome experience. We loved every minute of the whole week and really had nothing to complain about. The ship itself is magnificent and the staff couldn't do enough for us. The ports of call were beautiful and we saw new places and met interesting people. We ordered kosher food and therefore are not able to comment on the regular food served, other than to say when I saw the variety on offer it was the first time in my life that

being kosher made me feel a little deprived. The food all looked amazing and if it tasted only half as good as it looked it had to have been excellent. The kosher meals were tasty and we really appreciated the trouble our head waiter went to to ensure we had kosher food every day, served with 'plastic silver', as he called it. However we would have enjoyed a little more variety in our meals. We were served the same few things over and over. Nonetheless, we were never hungry. At breakfast we were able to eat a lot of the cereals, fruit and smoked salmon. All in all, I cannot complain about the food as I was warned in advance by the agent that the kosher food would not be like the regular food. I have to compliment our waiter and assistant waiter as well, as they were at our beck and call and nothing was too much trouble for them. We had an inside room, number 9593 on deck 9. It was a little small and cramped for 2 adults, and the shower was minute, but I suppose that is to be expected. Even though it was small, the room was very compact and well fitted. The bed was spacious and very comfortable, with crisp fresh linen. There was ample storage space for clothes, shoes, toiletries etc. I particularly liked the hair drier and the safe. Our stateroom attendant was amazing. I think he went into our room every time we left it to replace used towels with clean ones, straighten up and every night we had little animals from cleverly folded towels. The room and bathroom were spotlessly clean at all times. I also liked the bright lighting and constant supply of fresh ice in an ice bucket. Being inside and not having a window did not bother us at all. There was just so much to do that we did not even see everything. The entertainment in the evenings was lovely. We especially enjoyed the ice show and the Beatlmaniacs show. During the day if one is so inclined there is always the gym, the spa, the pools and jacuzzis, the sports facilities ,the casino and the list goes on and on. You simply cannot complain of boredom on this ship as there is always something to do. If all else fails you can even go to the library and read a book. However, most days by the time we got back from exploring the ports we were so tired that we were happy to just relax at the pool. We only did one excursion through the ship, and found it a bit of a let down as we were constantly being herded on and off a bus and preferred doing our own thing. They were also quite expensive. In 2 of the ports we got a taxi - there are always lots of them around as you get off the ship, offering tours - and we really enjoyed this. It was quite expensive, but we got to see what WE wanted to see and go where We wanted to go. The taxi drivers were very knowledgeable and told us what our options were and then we chose where to go. We were also able to stop in the places that interested us and stay as long as we wanted to. These were definitely our best 2 days. Another useful tip - one day we teamed up with 3 other couples and shared a tour in a minibus designed for eight and shared the cost. This worked out quite cheap and was very enjoyable and also quite flexible. We just aren't the kind of people who enjoy rigid organized excursions. On 2 days we went into the city and took open top bus tours which also were much cheaper than the ship's excursions. This is a good way of seeing the main sights. We departed from Rome and docked in Genoa, Villefranche, Barcelona, Mallorca and Cagliari in Sardinia. We then returned to Rome. As we had never been to any of these places before, they were all interesting for us. On the day we got back to Rome we booked a hotel in Rome for the night and had the whole day to explore Rome, which was wonderful. I don't know if I'm allowed to mention the hotel's name, but I will as I can honestly recommend it. Crosti Hotel on Via Castelfidardo was spotlessly clean, modern, very central and relatively inexpensive. Our overall cruise experience was wonderful. I would highly recommend Navigator of the Seas and we enjoyed every aspect of the trip.

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Apr 17, 2009

Western Carribean

Small deluxe balcony room. Did not know the bed for our daughter folded out on top of our bed. Somewhat closterphobic and cramped. Bed bugs....My daughter and I were bitten. I have about 25 bites and my daughter has over 50. The catamaran cruise in Jamaica for snorkeling and Dunn's River Falls was fun but be prepared they will hit you up for photos, hairbraiding, Tshirts, jewelry, beer (hot) and a $40.00 video. Plus tips, they stand around

until you tip them. Be prepared to say no 10 times or just relax and bring $150.00 with you. Not the vacation we were looking for. Bed bug bites made us miserable. The staff ignored us. They said they sent someone in to check our cabin and they found nothing. We went to the medical facility and were told that we could buy a bottle of calamine lotion for $5.00 or make an appointment to see the doctor at an additional charge. You might wonder how I know what bed bug bites look like? Four years ago Easter weekend I sailed on the same ship and was bitten by bed bugs. I have cruised with all the major cruise lines and never had anything like this happen. Think twice about choosing this ship!

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By Gwen_CR

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Apr 5, 2009

Western Caribbean

I took the Navigator of the Seas Western Caribbean cruise with my husband and two teenage daughters. It far exceeded all of our expectations.I have included lots of tips for Royal Caribbean first-timers. This is information I learned the hard way and hope that you will you find them helpful. The food was good to fair, but the dining room staff was exceptional. For evening meals, the appetizer selection was quite odd, for example "Pear Soup."

The kids ended up eating Caesar Salad every night for lack of any good choices of appetizers. There were 4 to 5 Chef's Entrees each night, such as Filet, Lobster, Shrimp, and Duck, which were usually very good. For picky eaters, there were 3 Alternative Choices that were on the menu every night - Chicken, Sirloin (cheap cut), and Pasta, which were not very good. In addition, children can order chicken nuggets, fries, pizza, etc. to be prepared special. We were all disappointed with the desserts, but later found out that if we added a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it always made it better! We ate most breakfasts and lunches at the buffet, which had much variety, because we didn't want to have to go back to the room to get dressed. A couple of days, we ordered room service for breakfast (complimentary), and that was really nice. Because we were on a family vacation and wanted to reconnect, we asked for a table for 4, but instead received a table of 12 & we were not pleased, and didn't have any luck getting it changed. You may want to secure your preference by phone prior to departure. We had two balcony rooms on Deck 8 which adjoined. That way, we all had plenty of space and two bathrooms; as well as privacy for the parents! Deck 8 also has the Internet Cafe, for people who need to check e-mail (for a fee). The rooms were quite comfortable, with plenty of storage room, and my husband spent much peaceful time on the balcony with his book while waiting on me to get ready each day. The bathrooms were snug, but had plenty of room to get around, and the showers had excellent water pressure. We had a noise problem with our neighbors on the other side one night, and after laying awake from midnight to 1 am, we finally called security. Someone was knocking on their door and requesting them to quiet things down within 5 minutes. We never had a problem again and appreciated the security staff's quick attention to the matter. Our stateroom attendant was fantastic, and from what I heard, they all are. My husband and I loved the nighttime shows. These included Comedy Show, Ice Show, Broadway Show, Motown Show, Ballroom Dancing, and Comedy/Magician. In addition to these shows were Dance Parties and Parades on the Promenade, Casino, Karaoke, Game Shows, Bingo, and more. There were about 17 bars, believe it or not, most of which provided live music throughout the evening. My husband and I did not appreciate the fact that children were allowed in the bars and in the casino. They would run around and act silly, while we were trying to enjoy some adult time. Our kids enjoyed the poolside band and pool games, which went on all day poolside on the Days at Sea. Speaking of the kids, there were many scheduled activities for all ages all day long, but our 2 teenage girls said they were "lame." They found a fun group of kids on the first day, and they met up at a certain time each day and made up their own itinerary. There was rock climbing, ice skating, golf, inline skating, basketball, and more to entertain them. Of note, a parent must present in person to sign release forms for all of these activities. I suggest you go on the first day to each activity station and sign the form for your child. That way, they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, throughout the whole cruise. Our cell phone texting did not work on the ship, so we left notes in their rooms and vice versa, so we always knew where each other was at all times. A friend who used to live in Grand Cayman gave us some excellent advice. Instead of paying a fortune and booking the ship's excursion there, we simply exited the tender, hung a right, and at the end of the street is the Eden Rock Dive Shop (edenrockdive.com). They have all the equipment you need for rental plus lockers, and you dive or snorkel right off their shore, at a very reasonable price. They also have guides for rent, if you need one. Along the same street are the many stores for shopping. In Jamaica, we did the Aerial Exploration and Bobsled - I highly recommend. We took a 5 minute ride to the Aerial Lift area, and it took about 15 minutes to go up the mountain, where there was a pool, gift shop, and restaurant. We then bobsled back down, which took about 15 minutes, as well. Views from the lift were awesome. On the bobsled ride, you controlled how fast or slow you wanted to go, so it's appropriate for adults, as well as kids. Some tips that you may find useful: (1) We packed a 24-pack of bottled water in a suitcase, kept them in our refrigerators in our rooms, and saved a tremendous amount of money in the process. We were always thirsty and dehydrated, and it was nice to be able to grab a cold water bottle whenever we needed it. (2) If you're going to play Bingo, do it on the first night, when it's the cheapest – after that, the price climbs and climbs each day. (3) Try the adults-only solarium for some quiet pool time, away from the loud main pool. (4) The alcohol in the shop on the Promenade is super cheap, sometimes half price, and duty free. You can purchase liquor and they will hold it until the departure day for you. (5) Spa prices were double what we pay at home. Wait until the final day at sea to book your appointment, because prices drop drastically. (6) Take your own family pictures before dinner each night and save the $20 each and long lines that the ship photographer provides. (7) We realized that the complimentary ice cream on the pool deck would open around 11 am each day, and stay open until it ran out. You could also go into the buffet area and get ice cream, as long as it was open. You had to pay for Ben & Jerry's and their freezer broke during our trip. Complimentary pizza, sandwiches, and desserts could be found on the Promenade 24 hours a day! (8) The coffee in the restaurants and room service was absolutely horrid. We found that the coffee in the complimentary coffee shop on the Promenade was great, so we'd get a to-go cup there before we proceeded to breakfast. (9) If you don't mind not having a window to the outside, the rooms whose windows look down on the Promenade are cool for kids, because they can look down and watch the parades, parties, etc. from their room without being in the chaos. (10) You can check the menu for dinner each night outside your dining room to see if you want to make the effort to dress up or eat at the buffet. (11) As noted previously, sign the release forms for the activities your child wants to participate in the FIRST day. That way, they can do whatever they want throughout the entire cruise without having to drag you along with them.

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Mar 25, 2009

Cozumel

I was gravely disappointed with this cruise on the Navigator of the Seas with Royal Caribbean on March 18th. It started from the time I called Royal Caribbean to learn they did not rent wheel chairs while aboard the ship. I was trying to get one for my mother who was traveling with us and has Multiple Sclerosis. Then I found out as we were on the ship they did have Royal Caribbean wheel chairs, we saw them quite frequently aboard the ship.

I can not understand why they told me they did not have them when I called and no they did not tell me they where out for that sailing. It was a direct "no" we do not rent wheel chairs. So my mother spent most here time in her cabin without a wheelchair. I was extremely disappointed with everything on the ship. They served the same food in the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch everyday of the week. Breakfast I can understand, but not lunch!! I have never had that even cruising three times before with them. I went on my first cruise on Carnival in December 08 and was quite impressed with them compared to this cruise. They had a wide variety of food everyday and it was never the same. Who wants to eat the same food over and over? Carnival even offered FREE Sushi on there three day cruise. On past ships with Royal Caribbean they have the Seaview Café that offered chicken wings, onion rings, and a variety of other options. They do not have that on their newer ships. Instead they give you Johnny Rockets and charge you a fee of 4.95. How much more greedier are they going to get? My experience with dinner in the formal dinning rooms was not as well as expected. Our service was terrific but the food was mediocre. We were told they do not offer lobster on there 3 or 4 day cruises. On my recent three day Carnival cruise we had lobster, plus paid much less for the cruise itself. Even the shows on this cruise were only average, the shows on Carnival for excellent actually incredible compared to this cruise. They have also changed there delivery policy on alcohol. They use to deliver it to your room on the day before departure. Now you have to pick up you alcohol the day you depart. I guess they don't think you have enough to do on departure day. I asked the two men working how am I going to pack it if my luggage is already packed up and gone. The two gentlemen looked at me like I don't care that is your problem. We all know the reason they started this policy is greed again. They want to make sure you buy their watered down drinks, so they can make more money off of you. We also noticed on departure day a few people in are area alone that had forget to pick up their alcohol. One person had been waiting over an hour for them to bring it out to her. Royal Caribbean is not looking out at all to what could make your departure easier. I booked this cruise for ten of us and one person who went with us had only been on Carnival ships. She had cruised with Carnival about fifteen times and I had raved so much about Royal Caribbean I was embarrassed by the end of this cruise. She won't be going back on a Royal Caribbean ship ever. In short the comparisson from this four day cruise on Royal Caribbean compared to the three day on Carnival. Which, this is something I never thought I would say Carnival well surpassed by expectation. I don't believe I will be traveling on Royal Caribbean anytime in the near future. I hope everyone reads this and it helps make your decision if you are considering a cruise between the two. Please don't make the same mistake. Remember you are on this cruise with no other food but what they serve you and I don't think anyone wants to eat the same thing over and over!!

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Mar 3, 2007

Western Caribbean

This was our fourth cruise, 3 of which have been on Royal Caribbean. We were renewing our vows on the ship for our 15th anniversary. We got to Miami a day ahead and spent the day shopping at the Market place. Embarkation: We took a shuttle from River Park Hotel and Suites about 10:30 and arrived at the pier around 11:00. We were on the ship by 12:15 and our room was ready when we got on. We had previously purchased a vow renewal package

from the RC Royal Romance program and they had wine, decorations and lots of other goodies ready in our 10th floor balcony room. Room: The rooms were very nice and had new white duvets with a nice green accent pillows. The bed was very comfortable. The shower had curved doors that shut easily with magnets and was a big step above the curtains on Carnival. There was ample space for all of our suitcases. Which by the way arrived to our stateroom by 1:00pm. Ship rooms: I thought the ship was gorgeous and I was really impressed with how classy everything looked. The windjammer was the first we had been in that did not smell like or look like a cafeteria. We loved the Promenade, pools, different bars etc. Shows: We went to most every show and I was impressed by them and pleased that the costumes were much more classy than some other lines. I was a little turned off that some of the singers did not seem to take care of their bodies though. The ice show was magnificent and I can't wait to take the kids on the next cruise so they can experience that. All of the performers were very good at what they did and you could tell they had spent many hours in rehearsals. The cruise director was just so-so and probably my least favorite from any ship we'd been on though. His humor, interaction with the guests seemed forced and he wasn't that fun. I believe the previous cruise director had just been sent to The Freedom though so he could have been new. Ports of Call: I absolutely adored the private island as did my husband. We did a kayak tour here and I wish we had signed up for one at other ports. It was a blast and a great way to see Haiti. I was a missionary to this country 15 years ago and I have such a soft spot for people. It was gorgeous here but the people were so sweet. The buffet was excellent and I wish we could have stayed here a few days. Jamaica...okay I've read review after review warning about Jamaica so we decided to book a tour though the ship that lasted the entire day. Boy was that a great idea. We had a blast and our tour guide was outstanding. She did not let anyone get to close to us. We went to tour Brennar hall, had lunch at a beach resort and then went to climb the falls and then on to shopping. She stuck right beside us and did not let locals badger us. She took us shopping before going to the ship and went in every store with us. Even though this tour was through the ship there were only 6 of us so we got allot of personal attention. The tour was about $70 I believe but the guide deserved that much just for herself. Grand Cayman: All the stingray tours were cancelled because of undertow and wind. This was my least favorite port. It was way to crowded and made us feel more claustrophobic than the muster drill. The Freedom and 2 other ships were in port with us. I read complaints about tendering but that was really organized and quick. We went to 7 mile beach but there were 2 other cruise lines just packed in with us. Cozumel: Here again we booked a long tour through the ship and it was wonderful and worth every dime. We had a jeep 4x4 tour where we went snorkeling, drive around the entire distance of the island, went to a private island on the other side of the island for lunch and the beach, went to a Mayan ruin and then back to the ship. It was gorgeous and the snorkeling was really good. We saw all kinds of fish and the guides took food to feed the fish so we had schools of them swimming around us. Shopping was good but the locals were the most pushy here than other port. There was still allot of damage from the hurricane and I could not believe how different some things looked from the time we went before the hurricane. Vow Renewal: Okay if anyone is on the fence about doing this all I can say is do it! We got the royal treatment every day with something new in the room each day. We renewed our vows in the chapel at sunset Tuesday night and had a reception in one of the rooms on the 13th floor. We got a photographer for an hour and he took us all around the ship for pictures. The photos were so professionally done it looked like our wedding pictures and we bought a huge package. That said we tried. They gave us 10 free photos and then credited our shipboard account for some of those. If you get on this ship go find Percy because he is just outstanding. We got champagne, cake, bouquet etc. We both cried during the ceremony. We went to Portfolios afterwards which was also great. Dining: The food was good but I would not call it outstanding. We did request Creme Brule one night and it wasn't on the menu so they made it for our entire table the night of our actual anniversary and served champagne and another cake. Our waitress was wonderful though and when told her we liked to have room service on the balcony to limit serving sizes in the mornings and to spend time together she pulled our sheets each morning and brought it herself. If we wanted something not listed she told us to write it on the sheet and she would go to the Windjammer and get it herself. We had great table mates none of whom we knew previously. We made some lasting friendships on this cruise. Pool: The pool had close to ample room for everyone but there was extensive chair saving on this cruise, more than any we've been on before. There were some spring breakers but mostly international. I've never been on a cruise with so many international passengers but we really enjoyed it. Disembark: The ship just started a new airport valet service for $10 per person to check your bags right after customs. We booked an Everglades tour and had to be in the Theatre by 6am with our luggage. We were off of the ship and through customs by 6:30. We spent the day touring and enjoying Ft. Lauderdale and did not see our luggage until we got home to NC. That service was wonderful and worth every dime. I've never been off of a ship so quick and easy, if you've got a little time to kill book at tour at the end of your cruise. To summarize: There were a few little things I did not care for but all in all this ship does an excellent job with all kinds of service and have great staff and activities.

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Jan 9, 2007

Western Caribbean

We definitely got a good taste for cruising on the Navigator of the Seas. The ship is massive and beautiful and made a perfect place to celebrate our 35th anniversary. Being a first time cruiser, I’m sure I’m looking through some Rose Colored Glasses, but I am trying to keep my feet on the ground as I make my (our) comments. Room: We had room 6630, a balcony room near the aft staircase, which made it convenient to make a quick trip

to the Promenade or the 4th floor dining room and not have to wait for the elevator. The room was as roomy as I expected (not) but it was comfortable for the time we spent in it. And, the balcony was great for the morning wake up at each new destination or for a late night of relaxation. Every aspect of the ship was fun, for lack of a different word. But we spent some great leisure time at a few of the watering holes. We watched football with cheering fans at the 19th Hole on the 14th deck. Drinks are a little expensive but not out of line. The waiters were always attentive but not overly so. We got to know a couple by name. Marvin at the Boleros bar on the 4th deck became friend by the end of the cruise (sort of like Cheers where everyone knows your name.) We stopped at a few other drinking establishments and were equally well treated by most. Food: We ate in on the 4th floor, early dinner and had “Anastasia” as our server. We both fell in love with her as did the rest of our table. We were all first time cruisers and had a ball together as we learned the ins and outs. Anastasia, although a little repetitive at times, kept us amused and well served. The food was good, very good. Even the desserts were scrumptious. We liked eating here that we only tried room service once, and the Windjammer twice. We only got to Johnny Rockets on the last full day at sea but I can attest to the great quality of food and entertainment. It was worth the extra $3.95 each plus the price of shakes to try at least once. Spending dinner time with Anastasia was a highlight of our trip. Entertainment on board: The ice show was very good. The skaters fell quite a few times. I’m sure it was due to the small arena combined with the fact that the seas were a mite rough the day we saw them. Doing a double is difficult enough with having a ship move underneath you. Jerry was the Cruise Director, congratulations Freedom of the Seas, because you just got one great Cruise director. This guy was a bundle of energy and we were lucky enough to be on his last cruise on Navigator. The ships shows kept us entertained and the comedians they picked up along the way were some of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of laughing at. On Board: They have so many activities that I couldn’t begin to report on them. We went to a few and only left one because it bored us, but we found another to interest us almost immediately. The casino was fun, although I don’t like not being able to surrender at Blackjack, so I only played the $5 table for fun. I walked away in the plus column. The Spa and exercise area was glamorous and functional. The pools were warm and pleasant. It can be hard to get a lounge chair on a hot, sunny day at sea, but we did when we were patient and asked around. They use salt water in the main pool so you’d be advised to shower immediately afterwards. The hot tubs were fresh water. Ports ‘O Call: We missed the Grand Cayman’s but all the other ports had moments of great enjoyment and some pushy merchants which we were able to get though with some persistence. It was really fun playing tourist and bartering at times and tiring at other times but that’s part of the deal when you go to the Caribbean. Labadee, a fenced off private part of Haiti, was very relaxing and you only had to deal with the merchants if you choose to do so. We did the Kayak rides which was fun. Barter like crazy here. One third the asking price is not unreasonable. We booked our own tour guide, Phil Layfette, on Ocho Rios, Jamaica and had more fun than I can explain here. See Portreview.com for more on him and other private tour guides. Dunn River Falls, although a little dangerous, is a grand way to spend time and get exercise. Barter to half price or more. We shopped a lot at Cozumel Mexico but did take the Atlantis Submarine ride which we thoroughly enjoyed. I’m a Mexican Food freak so, we did eat and eat. Poncho’s Back Porch was the best but some local places did offer a few quick Mex. treats. Barter at some places, but others won’t do so. Local sellers always barter. I can’t think of a down side. Embarkation and disembarkation was slow, but I expected such with 3500 people getting on and off at once. Full elevators were only a problem a couple times and we were able to deal with that by taking a “sit down.” Hey, we were on vacation and being force to relax is a good thing, and there’s always a bar somewhere. Never got seasick, as some said I would. The ship is so big that the waves only rocked it gently. In general, we had a great cruise and would do this ship, it’s sister ships or bigger and this company again and again.

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By Carl_CR

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Sep 18, 2006

Western Caribbean

Wonderful cruise! Embarking and disembarking were the fastest we have ever experienced. We were so fast getting off the ship that we had 5 hours to kill at the airport! Service was good but not exceptional all except for our dining room server Ping, he was wonderful! Food on RC is very good but nothing to write home about. We were a little disappointed with the shows. RC uses a lot of their own entertainment so if you don't like a

lot of dancing and music you would probably not appreciate the shows. One night we did thoroughly enjoy though was with comic Rondelle Sheridan, he was hilarious! We decided to book an aft cabin this time around. We were in 9390 and even though the balcony was bigger there was really no more usable space because of the shape of it and the big beam that was right in the way. It also did not have a sliding door but rather a regular storm type door with just the glass in the top half. We were very disappointed with that. As far as the ports, we had been to all of them before and were very disappointed in the change that has taken place since we sailed 2 1/2 years ago. St. Maarten has gotten so modernized that it has completely lost it's charm. It was barely recognizable. The prices too were not nearly as good as before. We were shopping for a digital camera and found no good deals and no one willing to bargain. We came home and bought one for $75.00 cheaper than what they wanted to sell us the same one for. Nassau was also more modernized than before and the cruise traffic was horrible! There were 5 other ships in port and you could barely move. We just gave up and went back to the ship. The new visitors center there was also disappointing. You had to go through it coming from the ship and going back to the ship and it also was so very crowded! Any gripes we had though were only minor. We had a wonderful time and always enjoy sailing on RC's big ships. One glitch we did encounter though was because we signed up for the program where RC gets your luggage to the airport so you don't have to lug it around yourself. When we got back home 1 of our bags was missing and we weren't the only cruisers from the Navigator with that same problem. They said they had been having problems with our cruise all day and some people had all of their bags missing. (The airport did see that the bag made it right to our front door which was nice seeing how it wasn't their fault in the first place.) One note about sailing in Sept., it is their tropical season and it is extremely hot. Sometimes it was almost unbearable. The days we were in port we came back to our cabin totally exhausted. We will probably not sail in the Fall again. Like I said before though we had a wonderful time and will definitely said again on RC.

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Sep 1, 2006

Western Caribbean

This was my 3rd cruise (1 previous on RCCL), but first time in the Caribbean. I can't begin to say enough about Royal Caribbean, especially the Navigator ship. What a beauty! I flew in 1 day early. Stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel, exceptional views, service and food. I ordered a Caesar salad and a glass of wine from room service which was excellent!! When we woke up early on Sat., we could see "our" ship just waiting for us to come

on board. We spent some time in the Miami shops near the water where we bought some cute dresses for under $20. Cute place to check out if you get in a day early. It was an easy walk to market from the hotel. There is also a Starbucks! We had to call a van to take us to the ship. 5 min. drive, $40 charge. There is no way around it. There was 5 of us and lots of luggage. Total, there were 4 women and 1 - 10 yr. old girl. We got to the ship by 12:00. Paid a porter $20 to take our luggage. Yes, the line was long but moved very quickly. We were on the ship in under 20 minutes. 3 of us had a balcony in room 6649. Very nice spacious room, large bathroom. My mom and her friend slept on the bed, 2 twins moved together, and I slept on the pull out couch. All but one piece of luggage made it to our rooms by 5:00. The missing piece had lost its tag, and was easily found with other "orphan" luggage. The bed and linen was very nice and plush. The pull out bed in the couch was not as comfortable. I don't think I will ever do that again. The room attendant pulled it out every night and made it up and put in back every morning. With that being said, that is my only complaint of the whole cruise. Our friend who has the 10 yr. daughter, booked room 6609 which overlooked the Promenade mall. What a treat that was. It was a large room also with a spacious bathroom. They kept their curtains open most of the day and could watch all the activity in the mall. Dining room: We ordered the wine package, 5 bottles of wine for $129.00 tip included. We could open as many bottles at once as we wanted. They would show us every night how much we had left and keep it in a cooler for us. We only ended up drinking 3 bottles total, so on the last night they gave us the other 2 bottles to take home. Considering a glass of wine is $6.50, it was well worth it to buy the package. Our waitress, Monica and assist. waiter, Nickolay were incredible!! They did such a great job and were so much fun to talk to. Our head waiter, Gordon, was also very helpful and nice. Most head waiters don't seem to do much other than come by your table once a night to say "hi". I saw him many times helping his staff clear plates, bring food, and pouring coffee. The food was great. They encourage you to eat way too much every night. I had a Cesar salad every night which was delicious. Most of the nights I chose to skip the deserts. Of all the food items, the deserts were just not that good. Everything else was delicious. Windjammer cafe: I ate most of my meals here. There is so much to chose from, there should be no complaints. I do agree with an earlier review that the drinks seem watered down, though. But i know I could have asked one of the waiters to bring me a drink that wasn't so watered down and they would have. I wouldn't have minded eating all my meals here. My mom & her friends had sushi one day for lunch and they said it was great! Johnny Rockets: I never had the chance to eat there, but the 10 yr. old did and she loved it. I think it is geared for the kids, not the adults. My mom & friends went for a shake and enjoyed it. You basically pay a $3.95/person cover charge and get whatever you want for free, with shakes being extra. Spa/salon: This was definitely my favorite part of the ship. The gym was large and had everything my gym at home has. There was always a machine to work out on. They had nice changing rooms with steam and sauna rooms. There was a mineral pool also. We did a yoga class one day, $10/person, with Alex (one of the personal trainers). Worth every cent. They also offer spinning classes every morning, along with Pilates classes. On port days, Alex has the yoga classes on the beach. The 2 personal trainers, Alex and Anthony, are so dedicated to their jobs. They were quite an inspiration to all of us. The salon/spa offers quite a selection of services/treatments. But plan on spending a small fortune. I had my hair cut by Tess in the salon, great job, for only $77.00. That was a deal by my standards, i had very long hair which she transformed into a very cute short haircut. I didn't do any of the other treatments in the spa. They offer everything from detox wraps, acupuncture, massages of all sorts and hot stone therapy. Every single one of them sounded absolutely wonderful. I just basically ran out of time. I plan on doing a few of them on my next cruise. Labadee, Haiti: Beautiful island owned by RCCL. My mom and I did the wave runner excursion. I would not suggest this excursion to anyone who has never ridden a wave runner or who is concerned about going at least 40 mph in the water. They had just gotten new wave runners that did close to 65 mph, oh joy. I would have much preferred going at a slow pace and enjoying the scenery. Our guides were very nice and helpful, Vlad and Shane. My forearms were sore for a week due to holding on to the handlebars so tight. There are quite a few coral reefs that you constantly had to be on the lookout for, so you didn't run your wave runner into one. Afterwards, we rented a floaty mat for $10/each and spent the rest of the day floating in the water. The BBQ was good. They had music playing and fire eaters somewhere, though I didn't see them. I felt safe the entire time, but the market was a bit nerve racking due to the merchants harassing you constantly! I probably would have bought more items if they hadnt been so forceful. There were beautiful pictures, home decorations, and clothing. But i just left, as did many others from the ship. At any time you would have 3 or 4 of them vying for you to come to their stall to look at the merchandise. Ocho Rios, Jamaica: Pretty much the same story. Beautiful water, scenery. etc. But the locals won't leave you alone. We were all offered "something to smoke". Again, i just left and went back to the ship after less than 1 hour on shore. I heard Dunn's River Falls was not to be missed. I wish I had done that. Grand Cayman: By far, the most beautiful place I have ever been to. It has a very peaceful energy about it. We took a tour "Jolly Roger" tour. The driver is a "pirate". Very funny and knowledgeable. I highly recommend this excursion to everyone. We got to stop by a beach and spend some time in the water. He mentioned Grand Cayman has the lowest crime rate in all the Caribbean. It is also the 6th largest financial district in the world. Next time I want to do a snorkel excursion there. Cozumel: Again, the color of the water was indescribable. Beautiful. The destruction from the hurricane was very sad. Good to see all the re-building taking place, though. Our cruise was the first time in over a yr. the ship was able to dock vs. staying in the bay and having to tender the passengers to land. The dock was still in pretty bad shape, though. Again, next time I cruise to Cozumel, I want to either take a tour to a private beach or do a snorkel excursion. There was no beach to walk to in Cozumel from the ship. I talked to someone on the ship who also suggested hiring a private tour for a scuba diving excursion, for experienced scuba divers. Night life: There was so much night life to chose from. We enjoyed "Rock the Boat", the band on board. They were excellent! I am not a fan of Karoke, but they made it fun to watch. Boleros: We also had a blast at Boleros, one of the bars. Michael & Stephen, 2 hilarious bartenders who always started off our nights with a great drink. In case you are wondering, my bar tab was less than $100, much of that being paying $4.50 for bottles of water. I pretty much just had one drink a night. Usually at Boleros there was a Latin American band that played salsa music. It was fun to watch all the couples dancing salsa style. Two poets pub: Another fun place to listen to music. This pub is located in the promenade mall. Shane (one of our guides on the waverunners), would start around 10 pm with his 1 man show. He was fantastic. He would play/sing songs that everyone knew and could sing along with, Neil Diamond, Jimmey Buffet, Motown, etc. Within 15 mins. of starting his show, he would have people all the way out into the promenade mall singing along. He is great with crowds. The pub was open to the mall so everyone could see him. The Dungeon was were everyone would end up after everything else was closing. They would play music until 3AM. It would always start off good with "danceable" music, but would eventually end up playing rap music. So we would leave and go home. Ocean Adventures: The 10 yr. old with us is very shy. By day 2 she was spending every possible second there. It is a program for the little ones. They have it split up into age groups. We were told all the counselors have 4 yr. degrees in child recreation. You have to pick your child up for lunch and dinner. Of course, they can just go to Johnny Rockets and do their own thing, if the parents are on shore. They will even watch them from 10-1 am for $5/hr. Everything is bought with your sea pass card. So no one ever has to carry any sort of money, except if you are onshore buying things. Each room has a safe that you set your own password to and that is where our passports and wallets stayed the entire cruise. Of course, it is very easy to buy things with your sea pass card, the card you are given upon check in. You can check your bill 24/7 on your TV in your room. Granted I spent way more than I wanted to, but it was worth it. I feel totally relaxed. And you cant buy "relaxation". Depending on what you want to do while on the cruise, you will spend at least $500/person with excursions, spa treatments, bar tabs, etc. But again, IT IS WORTH IT! We spent very little time out by the pool. There is also a movie theater we never made it to. The ice show was nice, but there were a lot of falls. But i would want to see it again. My mom and her friend saw all the shows at night and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. This cruise was a trip of a lifetime and I cant wait to do it again. It was worth every penny. The staff and the ship make it worth while. I will probably do RCCL again. From everyone I have talked to, it is pretty unanimous that RCCL knows how to "do it right".

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Aug 4, 2006

Western Caribbean

I personally loved the Navigator of the Seas. We were with 15 of our closest friends, and most of the kids were my age. It wouldn’t be too fun if it were just our family of 3. So, it is best to go with a bigger group. Breakfast: I liked Breakfast at the Windjammer. It was a buffet so, I admit, some of the food was weird or cheap and most of us ate cereal, donuts, and hash browns. My Mom doesn’t like buffets, and she said that there

were so many people there in the morning, it was stressful. I didn’t find it like that, but there were quite a few people there. Lunch: Lunch was ok in the Windjammer. We weren’t on the ship most of the lunches, so I can’t even remember what we ate. We ate at Johnny Rockets A LOT! With the fee of only around $3 to get in, then you get to order however much you want, it was nice. You also had to pay for your drink, but that was only $1.25. We had an AMAZING waitress, I forgot her name, but it was something like, Yenelle. She was so kind! She talked to us and made sure we were doing well. If you have her as a waitress give her a big tip! I didn’t know how to since it was our first day, and I regret it. Dinner: Dinner was the best meal! We had AMAZING waiters! Jay and Augustine. They were so good with us, kids and teens. My friend’s little brother, Ian who is 4 was treated like royalty by Jay & Augustine. They cut his chicken, and gave him drinks. They taught us mind tricks and showed us how to make stuff out of napkins. They offered many desserts, and let us try different things, and would take them back if we didn’t like them. They had amazing Caesar Salads, and hummus. Both were so good! I also liked their spinach dip. They have kids menus too that you can ask for. They have good deserts like ice cream for the kids that come with cookies! Promenade Café: They have amazing sandwiches, deserts, and cookies for free. Great for those in-between-meal snacks! Shopping on the ship: I like having no tax, but there wasn’t anything too great there to buy for us. Shopping was better off the ship. Kids Clubs & Activities: We never got to ice skate because the rink was only open at certain times and it was always crowded. We went rollerblading though! We also did Mini Golf. The Adventure Ocean is great for little kids if they don’t want to, or don’t get to go to a port. I would not take kids smaller than 6 to Jamaica. Especially if you are doing the Dunn’s River Falls. That would be hard for little kids. We never went to any clubs or anything, except my friend’s 4 year old brother stayed at Adventure Ocean for 2 ports because he liked it so much! Rooms: I stayed in a room with 3 of my best friends. There are bunk beds that the top bunk pulls down from the ceiling. We all enjoyed the bunk beds! We had an ocean view room, which is a must have. It would stink to have an inside room that has no window! We had storms almost every night. So, it was fun to have a window. It only got too rocky a few times, and when it did, it was pretty rocky. The bathrooms were TINY! When I say tiny, I mean you could sit on the toilet and almost brush your teeth in the sink at the same time! The shower was a little circle shower, but I loved it! The rooms were nice though. Pools: It was an unpleasant surprise when we all jumped in the pools and our eyes started to burn and our mouth tasted salty! All the pools are saltwater, except all of the hot tubs. Just giving everyone a warning! Labadie, Haiti: Great beaches! We went to 2 beaches there, and in the second beach, it was very clear and the sand was great! We even saw a jelly fish, giant snails, crabs, and a lot of fish! It was very relaxing there, and I never felt rushed, hurried, or crowded. Ochoa Rios, Jamaica: Ugh. Crowded, dirty, just ugh. The only thing you should do there is the Dunn’s River Falls. Then, you might want to go shopping a little, then LEAVE! There is nothing else that is great to do there. Grand Cayman Islands: We went on a Moby Dick Tour. Snorkeling wasn’t great at all. It was 9 feet deep but, in some areas it was so shallow that you would rub up against things and it would startle you. Where we were snorkeling, about 100 feet away was a 6000 foot drop, and we weren’t allowed to go near it. Then, we went to the Sting Ray City. Amazing! There were small sting rays and large sting rays. But, some of the waves were so big that you would wash over to a different area and have to jump so you didn’t step on any sting rays. Other than that, I loved the Sting Ray City! The boat we went out on was small and cramped though. I hated that. Cozumel, Mexico: At first it was horrible. Make sure you tell your kids not to look in the shops. Adults, do that first, then if it is safe and not inappropriate, go in. We only found a couple family-friendly stores and those stores were amazing! They have the best shopping! We went to Paradise Beach there, and it was amazing! Not to crowded. $8 for water stuff that included Kayaking , Iceberg Climbing, and Water Trampoline. It was cool! Everyone said we shouldn't eat some of the food there, but Paradise Beach had wonderful food that was clean and safe! We went snorkeling at Paradise Beach and we went out on a boat ,and it was awesome! The boat was big and they had tropical 80s music playing! The snorkeling was 65 feet deep and we saw awesome fish, turtles, and baby sharks. The fish let us touch them! It was cool! Very safe too. Overall, Cozumel is easily my favorite port. Basically, I recommend Navigator of the Seas for people with big family's or groups! It was frustrating at points for the adults, but we had a great time with our group of 18! :)

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Jul 7, 2006

Western Caribbean

Just for some background, this was my fourth cruise, the second for my wife and the first for my step kids (daughter age 10 and son age 14). My wife and I had taken the Carnival Miracle last summer so some of my comments compare the Navigator of the Seas to the Carnival Miracle (because both cruises are fresh in my mind). My family and I flew from Dallas (DFW) non-stop to Ft. Lauderdale on American Airlines. There was bad weather in Ft.

Lauderdale so we circled for about a half hour and then were diverted to Fort Myers (where we had to refuel). After about another hour in Fort Myers, we took off and finally made it to Ft. Lauderdale 2 ½ hours late. This kind of scenario is why I always leave a day early for a cruise. We could have missed the cruise if we had flown in the day of the cruise. We found our luggage with no problems and then hired a private car through Tri-county Airport Express (you don’t have to reserve this in advance) and made it to our hotel in about 45 minutes. We stayed at the Holiday Inn near the Miami Port. The location was nice as the Bayside Marketplace was right across the street. We had a decent room with a bedroom and separate living area. The hotel was quiet and we didn’t have any noise issues that I’d read about. The hotel is nothing great but functional and close to the port. It’s worth staying at if you’re just looking for an overnight stay prior to a cruise. We went to Bayside to look around and ate at Bubba Gump’s which was fairly good. I had fish and chips and there was way too much food. We were tired after the flight and delays so we called it a night. Day 1 – Saturday, 7/8 Embarkation I woke up fairly early (at 8 am) and immediately looked out the window for a view of the Navigator. She was at dock and was a beautiful sight to see. We had breakfast at the Holiday Inn and I can quite honestly say that it was one of the most awful breakfasts I’ve ever had (terrible tasting thin pancakes, lousy bagels, and lumpy oatmeal). Avoid this breakfast at all costs! We checked out of the hotel a little after 11 am and arrived at the dock around 11:20, dropped off our bags with a porter and headed inside. Outside the port terminal were numerous signs stating that check in would not occur until 2:30 pm but they were incorrect (so ignore them). We quickly passed through security and then I asked for the line for suites. We had a Jr. suite and I had read that sometimes they allow priority boarding for Jr. suites and sometimes they don’t. We had no problems at all in the suites line with checking in, so add Miami to the list of ports where Jr. suites get priority check in. The ship was already boarding (it was a few minutes before 12) so we passed most of the people in the normal line, had our picture taken and walked onto the ship. We explored a little bit and headed to the Windjammer as we were starved. The Windjammer was supposed to open at noon but when we got there, it was still closed. Apparently, a health inspection was taking place and it didn’t open until 12:40 or so, at which point there was a long line of hungry cruisers waiting to get in. Once the doors opened it was a mad rush to get food. Food stations were overcrowded and there didn’t seem to be enough tables for everyone. This was the one negative of the Navigator. The Windjammer doesn’t seem to be built large enough to handle the volume of passengers on board. We ate here several times during the cruise and every time but one it was very difficult to find a table. The food quality was mediocre and it seemed cramped and over crowded trying to get through the food lines. We found the buffet on the Carnival Miracle to be superior in terms of layout, quality, and variety of food. The pizza was much better on Carnival and we also missed the Reuben sandwiches that can be found on Carnival. The positive of this scenario is that the Navigator scored 100 on its health inspection score (which is supposed to be very difficult according to Captain Bang). After lunch, we explored the ship a little more and then headed to our cabin. One of our 5 bags was already there (the others arrived shortly thereafter) which was nice. We had cabin 9584 which we really liked (and was a Jr. suite as I mentioned earlier). It had abundant storage space (including a walk in closet) and we were able to unpack all of our clothes (for 4 people) and store the luggage under the bed. There was plenty of space to walk around in the room even when the couch was made out into a bed, and the balcony was large and could seat three. The bathroom had a tub and two medicine cabinets and was small, but pretty good sized for a ship. It soon was time for the muster drill (my least favorite part of a cruise except for disembarkation) and following that we started to sail out of Miami Port. Prior to leaving the Carnival Triumph and Imagination both sailed by us which was fun (people were waving and yelling back and forth). Cars honked at us as we sailed out of the harbor from a nearby highway which was fun as well. It was soon time for dinner so we headed for the Nutcracker Dining Room (there are three dining rooms but it’s really one big 3 story dining room) and we had our own table for four. Vipin from India was our waiter and his assistant was also from India. They were wonderful and took great care of us all week. They remembered our names (and addressed us by name when ordering) and what we liked to drink and made dining there a true pleasure. We found the dining room on the Navigator to be superior to the Carnival Miracle both in décor and food quality, although both had great service. I tried two entrees most nights and usually had 2 appetizers and 2 desserts (I’m on vacation so I figured what the heck). My step son had steak every single night (the top sirloin was fairly decent actually). After dinner we went to the welcome aboard show. It was pretty good and the cruise director Graham Seymour was humorous (he usually did a comic routine at each show and even sang one night). The entertainment was solid although not spectacular. During the week, we attended one of the production shows called Now and Forever (where they sing various Broadway songs), a comedian named Troy Thirdgill (hilarious), and a comic magician named Chad Chesmark (average) in addition to the welcome aboard show. I’d call entertainment a draw between RCCL and Carnival. After the show we retired and day one of the cruise was over. One final note for day 1: I had trouble falling asleep as the bed wasn’t that comfortable (I could feel springs pushing into my back). My wife mentioned this to Clover, our room steward and she said they were replacing mattresses and bedding on the ship, but they hadn’t gotten to our deck yet. Clover said she’d ask about getting a new mattress for us but wasn’t sure if they’d do it or not. The next night the bed was much more comfortable as she had added padding and it made a huge difference (they must have told her no about the mattress so she took it upon herself to do something to help). I really appreciated her making the effort to do this for me. Day 2 – Sunday, 7/9 At Sea Today was a day at sea, and I got up at 8:45 am to head down to wait for ice show tickets. They were handing them out at 9:30 at the entrance to Studio B (the ice rink area) and when I got in line around 9 there were about 10 people in front of me so it wasn’t too bad. Next, we grabbed some breakfast at the Windjammer (overcrowded as usual) and then headed up to play mini golf. The golf course is 9 holes and it can be tricky with the wind. After that we changed into our swimsuits and went to the pool. The adult pool area looked much more relaxing than the regular pool but we of course couldn’t go there as we had the kiddos along! The regular pool was very crowded so we just dipped our feet in and relaxed. After hanging out by the pool for awhile, we decided to play Bingo. The crew member running the Bingo was pretty annoying (and told dreadfully bad jokes), but it was still fun and we were one number away from winning in two different games. Alas, we did not win though. We skipped lunch today since we had a fairly late breakfast. Tonight was the first of two formal nights so we got dressed up and had some photos taken. Other passengers seemed to dress up (I didn’t see any jeans this night) with most men (including myself) opting for nice suits rather than tuxes. After dinner we went to the Captains reception and had our picture taken with Captain Bang. He seemed to be a nice fellow and the kids thought this was fun. We went to the show and then returned to the room to find our first of many towel animals waiting on the bed. At 11:30 pm, they had an underwater parade on the promenade so we checked that out (They have two parades during the week, one is an underwater theme and the other is a Mardi Gras theme). The parade was fairly good with performers singing, walking on stilts, etc. I wouldn’t call it a must do, but it was fun and worth the effort. Day 3 – Monday, 7/10 Labadee The Navigator arrived at Labadee this morning. My wife and step son had a 9 am parasailing excursion and the tickets notified us to catch the first tender ashore. We had room service for breakfast and headed down to deck 1 to catch a tender. I was expecting to have to get a tender ticket but that wasn’t necessary. We just walked right aboard the first tender with no problem at all (this was a few minutes after 8). The only port where tender tickets were required was Cozumel. The tender ride was short (less than 5 minutes) and we came ashore. Royal Caribbean does a better job of tendering then Carnival as it seems more organized and the tenders are larger. Labadee is Royal Caribbean’s private beach paradise and features beaches, water activities and a few water excursions. I explored Labadee while my wife and step son did the parasailing (which they really enjoyed). I went to Hideaway Beach (more secluded than the other beaches), and to Dragon’s Breath Point, and then worked my way back past the market and to Columbus Cove Beach. After the parasailing we all hooked up and went to Dragon Tail beach for awhile to swim. The water was nice and clear but there were some rocks on the ocean floor so aqua socks are a good idea. Anytime I got anywhere near a beach, a local would ask if I wanted beach chairs. Royal Caribbean made it clear that these chairs are free but the locals want to carry the chairs for you in exchange for a tip. At 11:15 my step son and I went over to the wave runner desk to check in for our 11:30 tour. We saw an instructional video then walked out to the dock. We were assigned a wave runner and a number from 1 to 10 based on how fast we wanted to go and previous experience in driving a wave runner (I had none). We ended up being #9, only ahead of an older man and his young child. We were instructed to follow in the wake of the wave runner ahead of us but no closer than 100 yards back. There were 3 or 4 stops along the tour where we would regroup and one of the guides would tell us information about Haiti. We went near the Navigator, to a beach (we were just offshore and locals paddled out in kayaks to try to sell us stuff), and one or two other stops. We started off and the other riders (who all seemed pretty experienced) took off pretty fast. I tried to keep up but eventually kept falling behind and had to have the guide in the back lead me to the next stop (there was a guide in the front to lead the way and one in the rear to help stragglers). At one point, the older man passed us so we ended up number 10. I finally got the hang of things on the last stretch and got to drive full throttle which was a blast. The tour was a lot of fun and I can definitely recommend it. After the wave runner tour, we had the barbeque lunch (which RCCL provides) and it was mediocre. Then we went shopping at the artisan’s market (like a normal gift shop) and the flea market (where you haggle) which was high pressure. We did buy a few things and got ourselves out of there. The prices are very cheap for souvenirs at both shopping locations so it’s worth taking a look, and they will personalize items at the flea market (they carved the kids names into a flute and wooden sword). It was time to head back to the ship for the normal evening activities of dinner and a show. Day 4 -Tuesday, 7/11 Ocho Rios We docked in Ocho Rios, Jamaica so it was easy to just walk off the ship after breakfast in the windjammer. We had a river tubing safari excursion booked today through the ship so we found the staging area for the tour and waited a few minutes in the hot tropical sun. We were broken up into little groups and boarded mini buses (ours held 10 people) and drove for about 40 minutes to the launch area along the White River. The road was mostly rough and barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass (some of the road was unpaved). At the launch area, they gave us some free punch and a paddle and there were a couple of vendors (very low pressure though) for us to look at while we waited for the rest of the buses to show up. Finally we launched one by one into the river, which was slightly cold, but crystal clear. The river was 90 percent shaded by tropical trees so the heat wasn’t a factor at all. The tubes were nice and had a bottom to them. My step daughter was apprehensive about doing this activity as she doesn’t swim very well, so she had trouble launching. She had thought she could share a tube with my wife but it wasn’t allowed. She got scared and didn’t want to do the tubing anymore but the tubing company was extremely nice and gentle with her. Their top guide Ovan promised her that he’d hold onto her tube the entire way down the river and he guaranteed that she’d have a good time. Also, one of the vendors named Junior saw my step daughter crying and came over and gave her what he called a good luck necklace. He also spoke kindly to her and calmed her down. Thus we continued with our adventure. The tubing was fun. Most of the river was calm but there were 3 or 4 rapids which were a blast. They take your pictures at various points along the river. By the end of the tubing my step daughter was smiling and asked if we could do this again! It turned out to be a very enjoyable excursion and I recommend it if you’re looking for something a little different. When we got out of the river, there was an area with shops (including sale of the photos they took of us), restrooms, and a snack bar. Also we took the same bus back to the ship so we could leave our valuables on the bus while tubing which was convenient. We did some souvenir shopping near the dock and then got back aboard the ship. After dinner we had the ice show. It was actually better than I expected as they had a variety of different performances that we all enjoyed. It wasn’t Olympic quality skating but it still was good quality and I felt they put a lot into the show. Day 5 - Wednesday, 7/12 Grand Cayman Grand Cayman is another tender port but we didn’t need to get a tender ticket. We had a Stingray and Island tour booked through Native Way for 11 am ship time. We caught a tender, did some shopping, and then asked for Native Way at the information booth (near where the tenders drop you off). Paula from Native Way picked us up in a mini van and told us that we were going to do the Island tour first. We had a private tour for just the four of us which was fantastic. Paula seemed to know everyone on the island and was full of information for us. We stopped at 7 mile beach (for a photo), Hell, the turtle farm, and the Tortuga Rum Cake Factory. The kids particularly enjoyed the turtle farm as they got to hold a baby turtle. At the rum cake factory, Paula bought us some sodas and patties (pastries filled with seasoned meat) which were delicious. I thought that was a nice touch. After the land portion of our excursion, we drove to a dock to board our boat to the stingrays. I was a little concerned about time (as it was now 1:30 pm ship time and our last tender was at 3:30 ship time) but they assured me that we would get back on time. We said good bye to Paula and boarded a boat with 6 others and headed out to the stingray sand bar. It was nice being in such a small group as we saw other boats headed back in with close to a hundred or more on board. We arrived at the sand bar and entered the water. There weren’t hundreds of stingrays like I’d imagined but there were enough to make it exciting and fun. The Native Way guides did a good job as they made sure that everyone got to hold a stingray, feed one, etc. The stingrays are gentle creatures (at least these ones were) and I never felt the slightest bit of danger of getting stung. On the way back, they let my step daughter drive the boat which she really enjoyed. The boat got back at 3 pm and we made it back to get on line for a tender at 3:15 pm so it was cutting it slightly close, but it all worked out. I highly recommend Native Way as the tour was cheaper (for both an island and stingray tour) than a ship tour (for only a stingray tour) and we got much more personalized attention (a personal island tour and stingray tour with only 10 versus a ship tour with hundreds). Tonight, we let the kids order room service for dinner and then my wife and I went to Portofino. I had the lobster and seafood skewer which was very good and my wife tried the filet which was excellent as well. We ended up with six courses and way too much food. They even had a pre-dessert of chocolate covered strawberries and a few other goodies before the actual dessert. It was a very good meal falling slightly short of 5 star but still excellent. It was also the night for the gala buffet. We went to view it and take pictures and it was really amazing. There were ice sculptures, fruit carvings, an Eiffel Tower made of chocolate and amazing figures made out of butter. We were too tired to wait another thirty minutes to eat the buffet though so we went to bed. I still regret it. Day 6 - Thursday, 7/13 Cozumel We arrived at 10 am at the International Pier and had to tender to shore. This was the only port where tender tickets were required (for the first 2 hours or so after we arrived). We had two different dolphin swims booked with Dolphin Discovery at Chankanaab Park. We had a royal swim at 3 pm ship time (for me and my step son) and a dolphin encounter at 4:30 pm ship time (for my wife and step daughter). Since the swims were later in the day we decide to eat breakfast in the dining room then catch a tender after the initial rush to get ashore had subsided. Breakfast in the dining room had mostly the same items available as the Windjammer but they did have Eggs Benedict which was pretty good. The tender was a fairly short 10 minute ride and was smooth sailing. My wife and I had been to Cozumel last year before the hurricane. The first thing I noticed when coming ashore is that the pier of Puerta Maya (next door to where we came ashore) was pretty much gone, although efforts are underway to rebuild it. We did some shopping and then caught a taxi to Chankanaab. Our cab driver was extremely friendly and asked what time we needed a cab back to the pier. He said he’d be there waiting for us when we were ready to return. We had also been to Chankanaab last year and the place looked totally different. The Dolphin Discovery area has been completely rebuilt with new buildings for both the gift shop and the locker/viewing (to watch the video after your dolphin swim) area. We didn’t go the beach as you had to ride a little cart to get over there, as construction is ongoing. Considering that the park was completely wiped out by the hurricane, they are doing an amazing job in rebuilding. We checked in for our Royal Swim and were given a short briefing before entering the water. The Royal Swim is an amazing experience. Titan and Amaya were our dolphins and we each got to experience a kiss, a hug, a foot push, a dorsal pull, a chance to hand feed the dolphins, and dance with them. We also got to have a splash fight with the dolphins. It was outstanding and well worth the money. They film and photograph the swim and afterwards they show you the DVD and photos that can be purchased. Lockers are provided free of charge for use during the swim. After we finished, my wife and step daughter did the Dolphin Encounter. My step daughter raved about how fun it was afterwards and how dolphins are her favorite animal now. We bought the DVD’s and photos for both swims and it was now 5:45 pm (the last tender was at 6:30) so it was time to head back. Low and behold our taxi driver was there waiting for us just as he said he’d be (there were other taxi’s around too). I thought it was very nice that he came back for us and he quickly got us back to the pier. We got in line for the tender at 6 pm with plenty of time to spare. I highly suggest booking the dolphins on your own in Cozumel rather than a ships tour because it’s extremely easy to do and saves money. We had originally planned to go to Johnny Rocket’s tonight but my step daughter wanted to go to Adventure Ocean (she loved it there and spent almost every evening there) so she ate quickly at the Windjammer and we dropped her off. We were in the mood for steak and had missed our normal dinner time so we called Chops to see if they had any openings. We were in luck as they had 8:45 pm open. Chops was excellent and I had a great tasting filet mignon. I found the service to be friendlier here than at Portofino and I also preferred the décor. Both specialty restaurants were very good but I do want to point out that I feel that Nick and Nora’s on the Carnival Miracle is better than either. On Carnival I could get surf and turf with steak and lobster which I couldn’t do on RCCL. Also, the desserts in Nick and Nora’s were out of this world and only very good in Chops and Portofino’s. I also prefer the location of Nick and Nora’s as it is on the top of the ship and isolated by itself, whereas Chops and Portofino are located within the buffet area (although they are separate rooms and are very nice). Day 7 – Friday, 7/14 At Sea We slept fairly late as we were worn out from four straight days at port. All of us woke up feeling sad as today was the last day of the cruise. We ate lunch in the dining room and they had a ham and cheese croissant sandwich that was fantastic. I had ordered something else but after tasting the sandwich (my wife had ordered) I ordered one for myself too. After lunch we played ping pong and then went to bingo (the jokes were even worse from the crew member running the games) where the jackpot was over $7,000. We of course lost but that was to be expected. I had filled out a form to get tips added to our on board account, so vouchers had been delivered to our cabin that I could use to put into the tipping envelopes. Just as a commentary, I really felt strange about tipping the head waiter since we had seen him just twice all week. He did nothing but walk around from table to table schmoozing with passengers and added no value whatsoever in my opinion. He also made me feel awkward when I tried to give him his tip. I tried to hand him the envelope when he came to our table and he said that he’d get it later. I never did end up handing him the envelope (and wouldn’t have tipped him at all had I not gone the prepaid route for tips). The waiter and assistants are the ones who did all the work so I felt great about giving them their tips. We had our picture taken with our waiters and then sadly left after dinner. They felt like friends to me and they had taken great care of the children. After dinner we packed and put our luggage outside the door, as luggage had to be out by midnight. We had lavender luggage tags which were supposed to be called between 7:30 and 8 am the following morning. We had some ice cream at Ben Jerry’s and then called it a night for the final night on board the ship. Day 8 - Saturday, 7/15 Disembarkation We woke up at 7 am and were planning to leave the cabin by 7:30 but we heard an announcement at 7:10 am that lavender could now disembark. We scrambled to get ready and left the cabin five minutes later. Disembarking was really easy as the luggage arrived on carousels just like at an airport. It took us 35 minutes from our cabin to a taxi with the only delay being a wait for passport control. Royal Caribbean definitely has Carnival beat in this area as it seemed much more organized. On Carnival the luggage was just left in a huge room after you got off the ship and people were running every where in a mad scramble to find their bags. As we exited the terminal there was a sign pointing to the right for Miami airport transportation and a sign pointing to the left for Fort Lauderdale airport transportation. We were in a taxi at 7:50 and arrived at Fort Lauderdale airport at 8:30 am for a 1 pm flight. Everything I had read said to not book morning flights after a cruise but in this case I wish I had. To summarize the differences between Royal Caribbean and Carnival, I feel that Royal Caribbean had a superior dining room, better tendering process, and much better disembarkation. Carnival had a much better buffet and a better specialty restaurant. Entertainment and service were equally good on both ships. I would gladly take either cruise line again. Both the Navigator of the Seas and Carnival Miracle have their plusses and minuses but the positives far outweigh the negatives for both. I think we made a good choice for a family cruise as the Navigator is a great ship for children.

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Apr 1, 2006

Western Caribbean

This was my third cruise, second cruise with my wife, and first cruise for our three teenagers. While at the airport waiting to go home last year, people from the Voyager and Navigator were raving about their vacation. We decided at that point we would make this a family vacation for this year. This was definitely a significant event for our family of 5. We had never been on a ship of 3000+ passengers and no idea what to expect, the reviews

were quite mixed on the crowds. The ship overall is spectacular in design and layout. The only draw back is the elevator situation. They have 14 passenger elevators, which seems adequate, but for 3000 passengers, your cruise would be over before the elevators would service the decks below Deck 8. Be prepared to use the stairs. Embarkation: This went pretty smoothly. We arrived at 12:30, porters were waiting at curbside to collect our bags and take them to the ship. We tipped the porter $10 for 10 bags, which seemed enough since they did show up, although at 7:30 at night. The security and boarding process was painless and took about 15 minutes start to finish. There were long lines but they moved very quickly. We were having a buffet lunch in the Windjammer by 1:30 after viewing our statrooms, Cabins 6322 and 2566. Staterooms: These were very well kept, Ishmail our attendant was excellent throughout the cruise. The rooms had a stocked mini-fridge and a balcony which is a little larger than what we had seen on other cruise ships. The "spacious" bathroom was efficiently layed out. Our large suitcases fit under the bed quite nicely with scuba equipment and formal wear in the closet. I had ordered some welcome gifts for the family, non-alcoholic champagne, some White Star, and robes and adventure gear online several weeks prior to departure. Some of it was in the room when we arrived, we spent an hour showing people our reciepts before it all showed up. Definately keep your receipts, you will need them throughout the cruise. Dining: All we had was our pool wear for the first night since the luggage was so late. I stopped by the dining room and was told casual wear was required, by someone in official looking red jacket, seemed to be having a bad day, but we never saw again on the cruise. This was unfortunate because we found out later that on the first night they would make exceptions for the luggage situation. So instead of main dining at 6:00, we went to Johnny Rockets, what a mistake. There is a cover charge and the shakes are extra, $45.00 for one of the worst dining experiences ever. The hamburgers were dry and the fries and onion rings exetremely greasy. We love Johnny Rockets in Albuquerque, but this one does not even come close to their usual standards. The next food option is the Windjammer and Jade buffets. We also found these to be awful by food standards in general, let alone by cruise ship standards. The lines were not long and there was always seeting available, but the food is bland, fruit drinks watered down, there is no variety, you will see the same food on the last day as you did on the first day. Totally unsatisfactory. Main Dining Room: We chose first seating dining at 6:00 pm. Hard to choose since 6:00 is too early for us, and 9:00 far too late. We definitely love "freestyle" dining offered by one of their competitors. Our table was 570, Kal (head waiter), Nelish (Waiter) and Adrian (Assistant Waiter) offered great service throughout the cruise, truely first class! The food was pretty good, except for the New York Strip Steak (that was awful) and the mild case of food poisoning I had on Monday night. They offered a wide variety of choices each night. If something was not to your liking they would bring anything else out you wanted to try. They even had the chefs make some custom order foods on a few nights. We went to Portofino, their upscale Italian Restaurant, the food was excellent, but the service was slow and no where near that provided by Nelish and Adrain in the main seating dining. We tried getting into Chops Grille, but were always told they were full. Each time we stopped in the restaurant was half full, but they still would not seat us without a reservation. Gala Buffet: They had a gala midnight buffet one evening, the staff really talked it up during the day. They open at 11:30 so everyone could come in and look at the presentation of food and ice sculpture and exotic foods, this was very visually appealing, but we noticed the food was not covered and many people were coughing over the food as they took pictures, it was somewhat disgusting so we left without eating. There were hand sanitizers throughout the ship, but we never saw anyone using them. On other ships, we were required to use them at several intervals, such as coming on the ship and before dining. None of that here, and we never really saw anyone wiping down the stair hand rails (you use them alot, see Elevator comment). With all the problems cruise ships have with virus outbreaks, I think this one could improve greatly. The wine list featured primarily California, and many wines were out of stock during the voyage. Bars and Nightlife: This ship has exceptional bar and lounge facilities, you can always find a quiet place with a great view or atmosphere, or the enjoy the crowd at the Dungeon. There is always something going on, you can find music and atmosphere to suite your tastes. The Viking lounge is a great place at the top of the ship. The Two Poets was the only place I think they could make some improvements. An English pub with only two English Beers, come on! My son is writing his own review, but the kids loved the teen disco, game room and activities in general. The Royal Promenade is the center of the ship, what a great feature to add to a ship, it is spectacular. Cruise Activities: We looked forward with great anticipation to seeing the ice skating performance on the ice rink on Deck 3. We had looked forward to this event with anticipation. We were very, disappointed in the quality of the skaters, there were more falls and stumbles that at a hockey game. There was one Russian Skater however that was spectacular in her hoop display. My daughter was looking forward to skating but there was only two days skating was allowed and it was limited, my daughter never was able to get in. Rock Climbing was another limited time activity and was crowded, again my daughter missed out. Despite this, there were a multitude of activities to pick from, keeping the kids constantly on the go. They were never bored, and were out until midnight or later every night. The Ship Shape center is large but a very busy place. The ship also has 1/5 mile track that is nice, but difficult use after 10:30 when the sunbathers show up and the chairs start creeping onto the track. There is Bingo with Sugar Shane (over $10,000 in prize money given away and also a free cruise, art auctions (with free champagne), a casino, all to fill your time while at sea. Entertainment: There was great entertainment for the most part. The 2 tier theater is impressive with almost no seats that have ‘blind spots’. In fact there are a very high percentage of outstanding seats. The Broadway Musical Review was a joke, most people starting leaving after the first 20 mins. The headliners they brought in however were excellent. The rock'n'roll review with Bowzer from Sha Na Na was great, even though the kids had no idea who he was, they enjoyed it greatly. The autograph signing session the next day on the Royal Promenade was equally entertaining. He posed with fans for pictures, made alot of jokes and just made sure everyone had a great time. Ports and Shore Excursions: I signed up for shore excursions online. This was very efficient and easy to do. However, when the actual tickets showed up onboard (they deliver to the stateroom), the information was all wrong. Again, several hours spent trying to get it straightened out onboard. Keep those online reciepts. What the ship receives from their processing center is not what you sign-up for. Labadee: This is RCI’s private “island” (a peninsula) on Haiti. You have to be Tendered to shore, however this process is very quick. We booked the adventure wave-runner experience. We had a great time it was a great tour around the bay on the wave-runners. The other activity that looked fun was the para-sailing. This is a very poor country, and while the lounge chairs/hammocks are free, the local staff rushes to position them and carry for you, hoping for a tip. Snorkeling was okay—nothing spectacular, but local rule required you rent a vest and wear it. This was a bit of a rip off with no added safety for the wearer. The lunch BBQ provided was okay, and we also had several “Labadoosie” beverages, a definite must in the souvenir cup. We attempted the local market, however the VERY high pressure sales were a turn-off so we never went into the flea market. Ochos Rios: We booked Dunn's River Falls and the Dolphin Swim through the ship. We went to Dolphin Cove and waited around an hour before finally being led to our team that would swim with one of the dolphins. This was a good event including picture taking amd a DVD of the actual event. It lasted about 45 minutes. You get to touch the Dolphin, learn about them, get a kiss and kiss the Dolphin. Be prepared to wait to get you pictures and to get lunch which took over an hour and a half. After all, this is the island of "no worries mon". We never made it to Dunn's River falls. After waiting for the shuttle for 45 minutes, we just went back to town to do some shopping before the ship left. We really missed out by not being able to get to the falls. The flavored rums are definitely a treat. The Ship offers a shopping guide booklet for $20 which supposedly has major discount coupons. Read the fine print on the coupons. If you present the coupon before agreeing to the price, you generally paid more, and the coupons are not valid on most high-end items like Mont-Blanc pens, watches or jewelry. Georgetown, Grand Cayman: Based on web reviews and my own email correspondence with Grand Cayman Excursions, I booked a Stingray City Dive trip. My son and I fed stingrays and even more exciting, a green moray eel. It was quite "tame" and obviously very comfortable around people. Something we would never do anywhere else. We got some great pictures. My Wife and the girls went on a Stingray City snorkel tour booked through the ship and had a good time. We did a little shopping before returning to the ship. Shopping is not particularly noteworthy, but most people had a good time regardless of the tour. Grand Cayman was struck by a hurricane two years ago and is finally recovering. On last years cruise, the ship tried to stop, but the harbor master would not let the tenders come out so we sailed on. Cozumel: This was our fourth time to Cozumel, it is tragic to see the devastation the hurricane did to it, but it is starting to recover. My son and I booked a scuba tour through a ship. We thought this would be great since the ship has an exceptional dive shop (good pricing on good equipment) and staff on board, however, this was a bad assumption. We ended up on the boat called the Sand Dollar with 30 beginner divers that had just completed the ships discover scuba program. I almost got off thinking this was a very dangerous situation. One of the new divers let a pressurized tank fall over shearing the high pressure hose as we went out to the reef. They were short on weight and equipment. The reef, Santa Maria which we had been too several times over the years was devastated and filled in with sand. The second reef, Paradise, survived pretty well. Experienced divers should book their own tour, they will enjoy it more. The shopping is always good in Cozumel and did not disappoint this time either. Those that went on the Mayan Ruin tours were all upset at the waiting time in both going on the tour, and waiting to get back to the ship. This robbed them of any shopping time in Cozumel. The ship left port an hour late because of the delay in getting everyone on board. Photos: This was a high-lite of our trip. Every evening at dinner (except last night) we were offered portrait opportunities both on formal nights and casual nights. We ended up with some great family photos that we will use for the coming year and this year's christmas cards. Debarkation: You have to have the bags outside by midnight (remember to keep out something to wear for trip home). They will color code your luggage and debarkation time. We went for our final meal in the Wind Jammer (same old food we had been eating all week), and then left at 9:00 am. The Customs line was long but again the line went very quickly. Collecting our baggage was another story. Took over an hour to get all our luggage. It was a good thing that we did not leave at 7:30 when they called our color, that would have meant 2 1/2 hours to get our bags. The receipt for the onboard purchases was supposed to be delivered the night before, it never showed up, the line at the customer service desk was long so I figured I would get one at the onshore facility, I figured wrong. I am still trying to get a receipt sent to me. Summary: Now I know I listed a lot of negative things here, far more than the other cruises I have been on. However, overall, our family had a fantastic time and I would have to say I recommend this ship to any family thinking of cruising. The worst thing that can occur on a vacation is bored whiny kids. This will not happen on this ship! The time flew by. This is the shortest 8 day vacation I can remember. My kids want to know when the next cruise is. We intend to do one cruise a year, how many of those include the kids will remain to be seen (LOL). I would not recommend this cruise for couples that want to get away. There are far better ships out there that will cater more adequately to those needs, and that will have better food and adult entertainment.

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Feb 11, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

I studied up on this site in preparation of my cruise on Navigator of the Seas to the Eastern Caribbean Feb-11. Honestly – what I read was 50/50 hated it / loved it. I had to chime in just to make myself and others feel better. 1st – me. I am a Sales Manager and travel more often than I want. I have been to Bourbon Street……8 times. Vegas - 10. LA – 10+. San Fran 15+ . Chicago20+. Orlando +++. Some people have been around the block….I

am the block. I have eaten sushi in Japan and grits in Yazoo City, Mississippi. I like the best of the best but prefer to sit down and crack a cold beer with a local….. anyway, What I realized after taking the cruise and re-reading the negative reviews is that out of the 3000+ people on the boat 2990 had a great time and the 10 sour pusses made a point out of posting an on line message. It was awesome. I had never been on a cruise before so my skepticism was obvious, especially after reading negative reviews. Was is ***** five Diamond – no. Was it a great time – YES! Rather than bore you with some useless information – here are the highs and (maybe) a low of the cruise. · Getting on – On the boat in the 30 minutes – at the pool bar in 32 minutes. · Service – A+. This crew knows nothing but to be nice and attentive to you. As I learned – 6 months on the ship. SIX MONTHS! 7 days a week – 12-18 hours a day. They bust their ass and still smile like you are family. Anyone who appreciates service will love what they do for you. · Food – B Good on the verge of very good but not Legal Seafoods or Smith and Wollensky’s. They had specialty dinning (add $20 pp) on board but we skipped it. Never had to upgrade. From what others said (at our table who upgraded) it was worth it but don’t jump into a reservation until you give the dining room a shot. · Drinks – Plenty of them. 22 bars. – again TWENTY TWO! Great service and great selection of top shelf liquor to beer. · Ship – AMAZING. It is like being in a F’n mall. I said about 20 times, “I cannot believe I am in the hull of a ship!” In addition, mini golf, whirlpools, rock-climbing, basketball – hell I played dodge ball and Ice-skated on a ship? You will not be bored – which I thought I might become. · Ports of call – Fantastic. We walked to the fort in San Juan – great walk – bring sunscreen and be prepared to say, “MEOW”. St. Thomas we got bumped from the snorkel tour and ended up on the Dancing Dolphin snorkel tour. Check them out. Website is I think, dancingdoplhin.com. Great crew – most fun I had all week. In St. Maarten we took the Bubba Boat Fishing Tour. Be prepared for smelly hands (from the bait) and a rough sea. It was a blast – we caught some exotic fish and threw them back in the ocean like good tourists. In Nassau, we hit the Breezes resort. A lot of people were disappointed with the food (buffet shut down 10 minutes before we arrived) and it was cloudy but I drank about 22 beers and played volleyball on the beach for three hours. My shoulders still hurt! The Bads · Our bathroom was out of order for ½ a day. No sympathy or retribution (not that I asked) from the customer service desk. · Tipping – you have a dictated tipping scheme. Not that I am cheap but I would rather through my waiter and assistant waiter some serious coin and skip the “head waiter” who spoke broken Italianglish and reminded me of my high school gym teacher. Also if you find a bartender who goes above and beyond - and I mean really mean beyond because they are all so good – take care of them and they will take care of you. Our fav was Zoro in the Wine Bar. · My biggest complaint – getting off the ship. It sucked. I wanted to stay L! Feel free to drop me an e-mail with questions or comments. There is so much more to say but…………..

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Feb 11, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

It has just been two months since we sailed on Explorer of the Seas and we are very excited to see the difference between the Explorer and the Navigator of the Seas. We’re especially looking forward to this cruise since we were celebrating our 48th wedding anniversary. We decided not to do a JS this time so we booked a balcony #7600, wheelchair accessible, which was great. I am still using an electric scooter for my back and leg. I cannot

get over the fantastic bathrooms for the physically challenged. Our travel agent, Bill, Above and Beyond Travel in Austin, assured us this room would be as nice as our JS and he was right! Also, kudos to Care Vacations on my electric scooter it was a beauty. Embarkation: Embarkation was difficult, as porters did not have enough wheelchairs for people that needed them. We had a waiting line. I was assured we would eventually get a wheelchair and the gentleman came thru as promised. It is absolutely amazing to me with all the activity going on they get everyone on board. Not only did a wheelchair arrive but someone to push me all the way to my room. John was thrilled and gave the young man a nice tip! Crown & Anchor provides a nice service here. When we arrived at our destination, room #7600, on the 7th floor it was decorated for our anniversary and had a dozen roses thanks to Sammie and Bill. A very nice surprise! I do believe that the physically challenged rooms on RCCL are a third larger than the regular rooms. It makes it nice when you have an electric scooter to manipulate in your room. Our room steward, Martin, did a great job. We always had enough towels, cute little towel animals as well and etc. The Navigator of the Seas is a beauty. Everyone is extremely helpful and friendly. John and I decided to do something different this cruise. We decided to do the Windjammer and the specialty restaurants and not eat in our assigned seating in the main dining room as we were always missing shows or rushing thru dinner due to 2nd seating. This is mainly a review of the restaurants/shows as I felt the ports had already been critiqued. We only ate one meal in the dining room and that was eggs benedict for breakfast. Chops Grill: Oh, boy, what’s not to like here. The service and the food are excellent and the list goes on. It is very easy to make a reservation. The first night on board you just go up to the Chops Grill desk and the waiter is more than happy to help you. We had our anniversary dinner at Chops. There is a $20.00 cover charge for each person but well worth it. The meat comes out on a tray and you pick the piece of meat you want and it is cooked to your order. You may have any side dish you want. The people at Chops made room for my scooter as well. Portofino: This restaurant has excellent food as well. I could have been a happy camper just going to Chops and Portofino every night but you would have had to literally “roll” me off the ship as the food is rich, delicious and wonderfully prepared. Again, this restaurant is very easy to make a reservation at. This restaurant has a $20.00 cover charge per person as well. A space was provided for my electric scooter. Johnny Rockets: I remember Johnny Rockets back when I was a kid. There is a cover charge (very minor) but well worth it. The malts and shakes are super and the hamburgers were not bad either. The young people in Johnny Rockets were full of energy and fun to watch. Windjammer: We felt the Windjammer had better food and selection than the main dining room. We ate most of our meals there. They’re is an omelet (both regular and egg beaters) station at the back of the ship. The salads are excellent, as you make your own. There is a pasta station and whatever is served in the main dining room (except for the lobster) is served in Windjammer. At night all the tables have tablecloths on them as well and waiters are around to help Jade: This little restaurant is the first one going into Windjammer. I can’t handle a lot of seasoning and Jade is an Oriental restaurant. The fruit here is great. It serves three meals a day as well. My husband ate at Jade one night and said the egg rolls were superb. Promenade Café: There is a very nice little café on the promenade that served absolutely delicious cookies and little sandwiches, pizza, hot tea, coffee and fruit. One night we just ate here, as we were so full. We were not alone either and everyone was so friendly and we met some very nice people at this little Café. It is very easy to pull up on your scooter/wheel chair at this Café and many people did just that. The Promenade is kept spotless and no small task with so many people aboard but you never felt like you were in a crowd. There are lots of shops as well as entertainment and music. Every night a different group would play, some with singing, string instruments, and guitar. Studio B: We went to the ice skating show at Studio B and had a nice surprise, as there was a guest skater from Russia. She was wonderful! Several people attempted to get tickets to see her again. The ice skating show on Navigator of the Seas was outstanding and very professional. The skating was near Olympic quality. There is special “parking” for wheel chair/scooters at Studio B. I watched the ice-skating from my electric scooter and had one of the best seats in the house. My husband was able to sit right next to me in a theater seat. Shows/Entertainment We watched several shows of the singers and dancers and one specialty show of a comedian. We laughed so hard we had tears in our eyes! All were excellent. We were not expecting this caliber of entertainment. Disembarkation Suggestion: Royal Caribbean needs more wheel chairs for the people who cannot make it on their own to get off the ship. They especially need more “wide-bodied” wheel chairs. Several elderly had difficulty. I would love to see different ports of call on these larger ships. Navigator of the Seas is a ship I would sail again. She is a perfect anniversary cruise. Happy Cruising. Jan and John

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Jan 14, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

This is a LENGTHY review of our first cruise. I hope that the information proves helpful as I had read MANY reviews before we left. This was our first cruise and despite reading SEVERAL reviews about the ship and ports of call, nothing could have adequately prepared us for the grandeur of the ship. Embarkation: We arrived at the port at 11:30 for a 12:00 embarking. We took a cab from Miami and did not use RC transportation. We found

things to be a bit disorganized after getting out of the cab as there were thousands of passengers leaving and thousands more arriving. Signage was not the best, but a porter approached us and said that he would take care of our bags. I tipped him well ($10.00) and then we headed off to the line-up. The entire embarkation process took about 2 hours. People in line complained, and many said that they had sailed on RC before and the process being employed this time was different (and according to them, not as effective). I would like to offer some advice at this point….you are on vacation – RELAX!! People in the line up who complain and moan, merely make the experience less tolerable for others around them. If you despise line ups, arrive at the pier around 2:30 or 3:00 (for a 5:00 sailing). People who arrived then, breezed straight onto the ship. First Impression; Go ahead, be a kid again if only for a few moments, and let your breath be taken away by the grandeur of the vessel. I commented to my wife as we first set foot on the Navigator “we are not in Kansas any more Toto” (and we come from Canada). Allow yourself to be overwhelmed…and this is just the beginning. The ship is maintained in pristine condition and looks like new, except perhaps for the carpets which understandably show a bit of wear. We found our way to our cabin and then set out to explore the ship. All of the pictures that I have seen online do not do justice to the vessel. We were like 2 kids in a candy shop and could not wait to set sail and let the cruise begin. Our Cabin; We had a balcony stateroom (8570) near midship on the port side. The room was immaculate and much more spacious than my wife had anticipated. Our luggage arrived before we sailed and we managed to unpack all of our clothes into the closet and drawers, and stow our suitcases under the bed…no small feat considering the amount of clothing we both packed. The beds had been set together and for all intents and purposes formed one large (approx king size) bed. They use a special pad to fill the gap between mattresses and it is very effective. There is a sitting area with a love seat, coffee table and TV. The washroom was adequate size and the round shower stall unique. The water pressure in the shower was fine and we never had a lack of hot water. Our stateroom was always tidy – the only clutter accumulating from the literature that we retained about the ships activities and in-port shopping tips. Facilities; Although we did not see all of the ship, every part that we did see and utilize was flawlessly designed and immaculately maintained. We did not see Studio “B” which is the ice skating rink. Being from Canada on a Caribbean cruise in January, the only ice I wanted to see was the kind that floats in my drinks. We were seated on the lowest level of the dining room (access from deck 3), and I don’t really think that any level provides better amenities than another. The view is a non-issue as all outer windows are draped over during the dinner seating. Good conversation with tablemates overcomes any need for a view anyway. We ate our breakfasts and lunches (when we had room) in the buffet. The two buffet services (Windjammer and Jade) are combined in one large room, with Jade being the first one you encounter as you enter. Each of the 2 offers a different menu, with the Windjammer providing what I refer to as more “standard” buffet fare. Jade serves food with an Asian influence, and was our favourite for lunches and breakfasts. My wife said that she could not get used to fried rice at breakfast…but it worked for me. I learned after about the 3rd day, that menus are posted at the entrance way and are worth checking out. This way you can determine if you would prefer the food at Jade or Windjammer – or a combination of both. We were amazed at the size of the plates that are offered, and more so by the fact that some people actually managed to fill them! The pool decks are the most popular place on the ship…and why not? Sun, entertainment, activities, music, and RELAXATION! We didn’t find a “bad” location to sit, although we did prefer to find a spot where we could stay in our chairs and look down at the pool to see the activities and the band. Royal Caribbean does not allow “reserving” deck chairs, and it amazed me at how considerate many people were….they would lay out towels, sunglasses and reading material for our enjoyment. If you find the same, please go ahead and take advantage of it! In reality, RC says that they do not allow chairs to be reserved, but they never enforce the policy (I wish they would). I never minded people saving a couple chairs for their friends, but when 6 or eight chairs sit covered by towels, but unoccupied for hours on end, I get irritated. There are countless levels and “balconies” overlooking the pool – each offering a fantastic spot to enjoy the surroundings. For a quieter time, and a place protected from the breeze, move slightly aft to the solarium pool. This area is reserved for adults and provides a quiet (too quiet for us) spot to relax in sun or shade. The evening shows take place in the Metropolis Theatre and they are amazing. I commented at one point that I had to keep reminding myself that we were aboard a ship, in the middle of the ocean. Food & Wine; People who complain about the quality of food aboard a ship are likely to find fault with everything in life. The food at the buffet (I can only comment on Jade) provided great variety. It was hot and fresh, and was far from bland. Dinners in the main dining room also offered an extensive variety. Some meals were better than others and some were just average, but overall the experience combined with the service more than compensated for any meal that was not above par. Also, if you didn’t like the selection you made, the waitress was pleased to bring you an alternate choice immediately. On one occasion I asked her recommendation on which meal would be best, she said “why not have both?” You could eat as MUCH as you wanted here! On a couple nights my tablemate and I opted for 2 different main course selections. I heard rave reviews about the food in Portofino, but we stayed with the main dining room because we enjoyed the company and the atmosphere. The wine selection was actually very good. We enjoy our wine and thought that we would easily consume more than one bottle in an evening, but there doesn’t seem to be enough time at dinner to do so. Despite the fact that we had the late seating, and were often the last ones to leave the room, dinner was usually complete by 9:30 – 10PM We often ordered a bottle to our room and sat on the balcony for a drink. Staff: Nothing short of spectacular here. From Eliza, our stateroom attendant who met us in the hall each AM and would NOT let us disembark without a big hug, to Jason Cross – the BEST poolside server of them all. Jason would brighten EVERYONE’S day with his antics, humour, and positive outlook. People actually looked forward to his visits as a highlight of the day. You will recognize Jason from his distinctive shout “here I am”! Service in the dining room was very friendly and efficient – even toward a rather “obnoxious” tablemate of ours who requested a very special appetizer and on the following day had his request granted. I have read about how you only see your headwaiter on the first and last days, but ours was there every night, checking on us and serving the wine. Staff would never hesitate to engage us in conversation. One waitress in the Cosmopolitan lounge stood for 45 minutes and talked to us, telling about life on a cruise ship. We will miss the “friends” that we made on board who all helped make our experience so enjoyable. Activities; We never participated in the formal activities, opting instead to relax in the sun and observe. The options for activities were plentiful and well organized. Shopping; We were amazed to find that the ship employs 2 full time shopping consultants who provide advice and recommendations on making purchases in port. We found their advice helpful and they also gave us a certificate in honour of our anniversary. We bought a diamond ring for my wife in St. Thomas at Diamonds International. We were very pleased with the service which was not too pushy and with the product selection. I also purchased a Movado watch for $150, which retails in Canada for $450. You can get all the shopping advice you need from a special TV channel onboard the ship. Just tune your in-room TV to the right channel and your shopping questions will all be answered. Ports; San Juan, Puerto Rico, we arrived mid afternoon and strolled through the streets of San Juan. The architecture was incredible and stood out above all the other islands we visited. There were plenty of shops to visit, but we didn’t make any purchases – opting to wait for the shopping hubs in St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Old San Juan offers some very unique sights, so be sure to take plenty of pictures, like the old men sitting and playing chess by the courtyard, or the small boy running through a flock of pigeons to chase them into flight. Notice the blue cobblestone roads and how narrow the streets are. St Thomas, USVI – despite our shopping desires, we did see more of the island than just the mall. Meghan’s Bay was our destination, but the taxi driver told us that they were not taking tourists there on this day due to high waves. Instead she offered to take us to Secret Harbour and we accepted. This is a beautiful small beach with only 1 hotel. It is very secluded and as a result very hot – no breeze makes its way in. One thing that struck us about this beach was the proliferation of iguana’s who were so bold that they would crawl right onto your towel. Thanks in no small part to people like our neighbour who kept feeding them. Be careful if you fall asleep on a blanket – you may wake up with an iguana on your chest. The water was crystal clear, but the bottom was rocky and rough. It was a better spot for snorkeling than for frolicking in the water. Do stop and check out the deals in the shops – the clerks were not pushy (for the most part) and you don’t feel as if you are being “preyed” upon. St. Maarten – Our main objective on this island was to visit Orient Beach, so we went right from the ship to the taxi centre. Be warned that if you stand in line for a taxi, you will be herded into a van along with 12 other people, all going to the same destination. Some of the passengers in our van objected to this, yet still wanted the reduced fare of $5 each. I was disappointed upon arrival because I had wanted to be dropped off near Pedro’s (the spot that separates the nude beach from the regular section) but the taxi dropped us all at one central location. Although the waves were high on this day, the beach was lovely. A word of caution – don’t take the first chair that you come across. We were charged $25 for 2 chairs and later found them for $7 each (including a free drink) just a few yards down the beach. We strolled the length of the beach, including the nude section. It is amazing at how quickly the nude bodies become the “norm” and those of us in suits seemed overdressed. It is a very relaxed and laid back atmosphere. If I return to Orient Beach, I will sit in this section. Finding a cab back to town was easy, but we again waited until the van was full. Downtown St. Maarten has an abundance of shops along with a fabulous, laid back Caribbean atmosphere. Check out the Guavaberry Emporium and try some of their special liquors (I came home with 2 bottles). There is a long boardwalk beside the beach near the harbor (sorry, I don’t know the name of the beach) and several cafes where you can enjoy a cocktail and snack. We found it a great place to people watch while sipping a favorite beverage. At the end of the day, you may wish to jump on a water taxi back to the ship. It only costs $3 and gives your tired feet a break. Nassau – The least favorite of our ports. You have to run a gauntlet of people trying to take you on a tour or give you a ride before you can even get to the street. There are a number of high end shops (Chanel, Gucci, etc) that you won’t find in other ports, but we were also struck by the number of people just hanging around the street corners. Brown paper bags with alcohol inside are abundant, and people drink as they walk. In hindsight, we would have enjoyed this port much more if we had made our way to a beach and enjoyed the beautiful blue waters. Disembarking; I had read many reviews with horror stories about spending hours waiting for your colour to be called. RC offers a WONDERFUL new service called express departure and I highly recommend it. You need to visit the guest relations desk and tell them that you want express departure. It is limited to the first 400 guests. You don’t need any tags for your bags and you don’t need to put your luggage outside your room the night before. On the morning of departure, you must leave the ship between 6:30 and 7AM. You take your own bags…wheel them to the elevator, get off at the proper deck and walk through customs. It is REALLY that easy!!! We left our stateroom at 6:45 AM and were in a taxi headed for Miami by 7:15. There were no line ups and no waiting. This enabled us to have a full day in Miami instead of waiting on the ship to get away. It also eliminated the need to identify our bags amongst all the others. Summary; There is SO MUCH to tell after 7 days aboard a floating paradise, that I know this review will fall short. We have been unable to adequately articulate the feelings that one gets aboard a cruise. Our tablemates were also first time cruisers and had booked two more cruises before they disembarked. My wife put it best when she said that it is magical. It is as if all your cares and worries are land locked and on the open sea there is only fun, relaxation and romance. Let yourself be swept away in the experience and enjoy every single moment! We did! I would be pleased to answer any questions that may not have been covered in this long journal. Feel free to e-mail questions to 1stcruise@gmail.com.

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Dec 3, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

This was our return to Royal Caribbean International (RCI) Navigator of the Seas; we first sailed on her in 2003. At that time, we published a review detailing her many amenities and the beauty of this Voyager Class ship. Then the Navigator held the title "Largest Cruise Ship" in the world. When the Cunard Queen Mary II was launched in 2004, she took the title with a record 150,000 tons. RCI will again hold that title in May 2006, with the

launching of the Freedom of the Seas, soon to become the largest cruise liner afloat at 158,000 tons. We were happy to see Captain Leif Otto Bang still in command, and to receive such a warm welcome back by both him and Hotel Director Richard Nentwich. This review will center on Gold Anchor Service, since we have already detailed the Navigator's beauty and decorations in the 2003 review. The elegant three deck dining room, with an enormous chandelier, is resplendent in nautical navy blue, maroon and brass decor providing a beautiful setting for an entertaining cruise. The Navigator was decorated with hundreds of live poinsettia plants, trimmed Christmas Trees and then festooned with bows galore. These natural and classic holiday decorations were much appreciated by the passengers. EMBARKATION The port of Miami is easily accessed; however, to embark approximately 3,500 passengers (and all their luggage) in less than four hours could be a logistical nightmare. RCI is up to the task and once security had concluded its work, then the lines moved along quickly. Boarding time is 2:00pm and we were on board and assisted to our stateroom in about thirty minutes. Recent US federal cut backs to the number of security personnel has made the process slower all around. There is a specific check-in counter for Crown & Anchor Diamond members and passengers on wheelchairs which makes boarding very quick. We checked our Dining Room reservations -- a table for two near the entrance to the Coppelia Dining Room -- perfect! It is better to do this soon after boarding, in order to avoid waiting in line at dinner time. All set, we went to the very crowded Windjammer Cafe' for the welcome aboard buffet. This is probably the only time that it is so busy, because so many hungry passengers descend on it simultaneously. There were many staff who helped with the seating, trays and beverages; even so, we usually avoid the buffet because of the wheelchair. Yet, many Americans love a buffet and some even avoid the dining rooms altogether, not us. We enjoy the exquisite dinners and service provided in the dining room as do so many other passengers. This is what makes cruising so much fun. Cruisers can enjoy the ship or exotic ports in the day time, and then in the evening come together at dinner and talk about their adventures of the day. THE SHIP The Navigator is a 138,000 gross tonnage, 650 million dollar wonder with 1,557 staterooms which can accommodate 3,835 passengers -- on this cruise there were 3,600 and a crew of 1,256. Her length is 1,020 ft., beam is 157.5 ft. and her draft is only 29 ft. All this and a cruising speed of 22 knots. The purser's desk provides a handy ship's deck plan, which folds to a neat playing card size. The Voyager Class ships, the Voyager (1999), Explorer (2000), Adventure (2001), Navigator (2002) and Mariner (2003) all have the distinctive feature of the Royal Promenade. This city street within the ship is almost 400 ft long and four decks tall. There are cabins overlooking the mall of boutiques, cafes and pubs. It is the center of action and the place to stroll, window shop or just sit and have a coffee or an ice cream. (See our 2003 review for a deck by deck description of the Navigator's 15 decks). The other unique features are the ice skating rink (the site of Olympic quality skating shows) and the rock climbing wall. The Navigator is just as lovely as when we first sailed on her three years ago. Mr. Nentwich keeps her pristine! FOOD & SERVICE Service is labeled "Gold Anchor Service" and when things go well as they do on the Navigator ---- we have only praise and no complaints. When passenger needs are anticipated and met, then it is smooth sailing. Loyalty ambassador Cindy Dangel provides special assistance for Crown & Anchor Members and information on future cruise savings. There is also Concierge Patricia Isaacs, who can provide assistance to all your needs with speed and grace. She is lovely. The Navigator's elegant three tier dining room forms an exquisite dining setting with its slender, tall white columns, and intricate double curving staircase framing its enormous central chandelier with matching round crystal chandeliers throughout the dining room ---- Magnificent. Service in the dining room is top notch. The Head Waiter Ali Matjani was efficient and our Waiter James D'Sa (India) and his Assistant Nikola Vucetic (Croatia) were very cordial and made our evenings truly enjoyable. Food on the RCI is very good and aimed towards the American palate. The menus have been down sized literally. There are fewer offerings, but better varied. The "Always Available" section covers fish, fowl and beef. We had a long talk with the new Executive Chef Johan Petutschnig (Austria), who was scheduled to take over the following week. We discussed the large portions and the many food venues. On board are Johnny Rockets, two upscale restaurants, bars, ice cream shops etc. The crew on this ship is very approachable, well mannered, and efficient. Specialty dining in the Portofino and Chops Grille is excellent ($20 per person dining fee). The first evening there was a Murder Mystery Dinner, a fun/dinner show with audience participation. Dinner with Captain and Mrs. Bang was our dining highlight. Fine food, fine conversation and a dessert to remember: "Captain's Delight" which is a goblet filled with wild berries (strawberries, blue berries, raspberries, and black berries) topped with freshly made ice cream. It was a night that ended with the dining room staff singing and dancing for the passengers. The Gold Anchor Service is most evident in the special attention given to the repeat cruisers: Concierge service, Welcome Back Cocktail Parties with the ranking crew; booklets of coupons which include the following: Free drinks and commemorative glasses; Casino Credits; discounts in the shops on board; Free Internet time; Free Personal Photographs, etc. We are always amazed that ship personnel make a special effort to call us by our names. In short, RCI makes cruisers feel welcome as no other line does. Of course cordiality works both ways; whenever a cruiser has a concern and directs it to us, we always inform them of the proper person to go to for assistance. A problem with the cabin should be directed to the Housekeeper; a problem in the dining room should be discussed with the Maitre D' and so forth. The crew is there to give passengers an excellent vacation, and we commend them on their excellent job. Whenever a passenger needs assistance, a simple phone call down to the Passenger Service Desk will bring immediate help. CABIN Wheelchair accessible Stateroom #6600 has a small foyer, and when entering on the left is the huge bathroom with a nice size mirrored medicine cabinet, and a large 5'x5' shower with safety rails all around. Then, there is an upholstered arm chair and a matching sofa in teal and gold, and a glass coffee table. There is also a TV, private safe, refrigerator, and a desk/vanity with lighted mirror and drawers. When entering on the right is a triple armoire (ample room and shelves), a queen size bed with a teal suede head board, and two night stands with reading lamps. The far wall is all windows with blackout draperies in a foliage and stripe print of teal and gold which matches the bed linens and the carpeting. There are two prints of exotic orchids on the walls. The wood is all light pine; the total effect is very pretty, cool and restful. ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Ken Rush is a seasoned (20 years in the cruise industry) M. C., who knows how to warm up an audience and present a show. Good laughs and excellent shows are the hallmark of RCI. The singers and dancers did Broadway style shows and Judy Kolba was a standout headliner: comedy, costumes, and a voice that "shook the rafters," all brought the entire audience to its feet, a standing ovation. It follows that the largest ships have the most to offer in entertainment; yet, there is plenty of room for quiet, or private times. Strolling the Promenade Deck, we watched a young couple play shuffleboard. We watched sail away from the Cosmopolitan Club on Deck 14, and it was serene, way above the merry sail away party on Deck 12. In the mornings, we picked up the daily newspapers in English, French, Spanish, Italian and German. We took them up to the 19th Hole Sports Bar and compared the slant on the news from country to country. Diamond members of the Crown & Anchor Society (10 or more cruises on RCI ships) and passengers in suites may enjoy cocktails and canapés in the Concierge Lounge on Deck 9. This is a nice way to meet fellow passengers. The crown jewel of entertainment on board is the Ice Skating show "Ice Dancin" with Dance Captain Danny, who was excellent. We wish that show programs were still given out to the audience as at prior shows. It would be nice to know the skaters by name and country of origin. The quality is near Olympic level and the choreography was beautiful. Lots to see and do on board, including Casino gaming and Bingo, mini golf, rock climbing, skating, inline skating, ping pong, basket ball, dancing, movies, etc. PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Miami Set sail at 5:00pm. Day 2. At Sea Day 3. San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive 2:00pm Depart 10:00pm Entering San Juan is one of the prettiest sights with the view of the two forts dating back to the 1500s: La Fortaleza and El Morro. This island has everything from rain forest to shopping. Day 4. St. Thomas, USVI Arrive 8:00am Depart 6:00pm Nicknamed a "Shoppers' Haven," it is especially great for linens, and its Danish influence is still apparent. Day 5. St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm This tiny island is divided into two sovereign powers: Dutch & French which have co-existed for 350 years. The ship guarantees more than twenty shops on the island and any purchase may be questioned within thirty days of the sale date. Take an island tour up to Mount Concordia, the view is lovely. Day 6. At Sea Day 7. Nassau, Bahamas Arrive 1:00pm Depart 7:00pm The capital of the Bahamas is connected with a bridge to Paradise Island, where Atlantis is located. This resort hotel offers some of the most interesting sites in the Bahamas, such as beautiful beaches, a nice water park and a spectacular aquarium, the best we have ever seen anywhere. Day 8. Miami Disembark 7:00am SUGGESTIONS Longer lines during embarkation have become more tedious and wearisome due to the security clearance (recently the federal government reduced the number of security agents). However, we feel the situation can be definitely improved with better coordination and timing of the security personnel in screening the passengers. We noticed on this cruise that the screening process did not start until after 1:00pm, much later than usual, and the lines grew longer and a bit restless by the time we started boarding the ship. This was a great cruise and RCI remains for us one of our favorite lines. We have accumulated thirty cruise credits with RCI and plan to do many more cruises in the future. Now we have booked one on the new Freedom of the Seas for October, but we'll be booking more cruises before October. This month we are going on the Costa Magica (Jan. 8th) and on Carnival Liberty (Jan. 29th). We have not yet booked any cruises for the coming Spring and Summer, but we'll do it soon, before Vincent gets cruise withdrawal symptoms. Happy Cruising!

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Nov 26, 2005

Western Caribbean

Overview: This was definitely a significant new experience for my wife and myself. We had never been on a ship of 3000+ passengers and were braced to deal with the crowds. The overall ship is a wonderful facility. The sheer size is impressive and the various amenities in this ‘Voyager’ Class ship is worth a close look for every experienced cruiser. For 1st-time cruisers with children, you may be spoiled for other ships forever. Our reactions

are a bit mixed since we would chose this large ship only if we were doing a family cruise event. Waiting in Lines: Perhaps the only time that the waiting became a problem was as we first arrived at the ship. Over 2 hours in lines became frustrating as we were anxious to get on board and begin exploring. The terminal and port staff doesn’t seem equipped to handle 3000+ people in a short period of time. This should not be the case since RCI has several ships this size now and it seems would be pretty good at moving this many people. This is the only area of the cruise that really needs major improvement. All other waiting in lines were not bad at all. Getting off and on the ship was done very nicely, even with the 2 ports that ‘tendering’ was necessary. The final morning to leave the ship was just about the same as other cruise lines even though coming back through customs did cause some slow movement. Waiting in lines on the ship was not bad at all as RCI has done a nice job of spreading the facility and entry points out so you are not faced with massive conjestion points. Congestion Points: As mentioned above RCI has in total done a very nice job of not putting you into congested areas on purpose. Examples of this have always been traditionally on cruise ships at dinner time, waiting for the evening show or getting off the ship in a port. Here RCI deserves high marks. There are a couple places on the ship where congestion is somewhat of a problem at times: around the photo area at the popular times got a bit scary as folks became anxious to find their special photo and the crowds hampered this effort. Also, the center promenade or interior boardwalk in the evening tends to get too full at times and around the large pool area at popular times. This really isn’t surprising on a ship that has 3000+ passengers. These are not easy problems to solve though they got a bit scary for folks that struggle with tight crowds. Cruise Highlights: We looked forward with great anticipation to seeing the ice skating performance on the ice rink on Deck 3. We enjoy ice skating shows so we had looked forward to this event with anticipation. We were very, very impressed with it all! What a unique event. For such a small area the skaters do an impressive job and the staging & costumes are top notch for sure! Since seating is limited, don’t miss it as a special memory! Our second highlight event was eating at the steak house dining venue. The entire experience was top notch! We have dined on premium level ships’ steak houses and this facility, food, service and value takes a ‘backseat’ to none. We were very impressed. The final highlight for us was a casual lunch at ‘Johnny Rockets’. We feel this is RCI’s best kept secret. What fun and a great change of pace from the other dining venues. For those of us from the 50’s & 60’s playing the juke box’s old songs, having a burger & shake and having the staff perform disco in the aisle to the Bee Gees was just a real delight. The small charges were minor and it was fun for us and the younger folks seemed to enjoy it as much as we did! Other Key Observations & Comments: Most of the following are comparative since we have done so many other cruises. We may be a bit spoiled in some areas yet feel it is important to share our thoughts, bow to stern. • The 3 level performance facility is impressive with almost no seats that have ‘blind spots’. In fact there are a very high percentage of outstanding seats. • We were surprised that the evening headliner shows did not seem to fill the facility for either the early or late show. With so many people on the ship, that defies logic a bit. • The RCI singer and dancers were excellent! Both of their full shows would rate with us as ‘top 10’ performances. The 4 vocalists are top notch New York talent. The dancers and their routines are not elaborate or complicated but are very effective, well rehearsed and professionally performed. The live music group was also tops in their support too. • Other evening performances covered the whole spectrum from outstanding to average at best. This is not bad just a point that all cruise lines need to continually work to improve. • The health club area was impressively filled with new equipment and an impressive spa atmosphere. A lot of money was spent in this venue and if it is your thing, you’ll enjoy all aspects of it. • A final bow observation comes from enjoying being on deck when the ship arrives and leaves a port. This ship excels in excellent visas on the bow from several decks and vantage points. Since the ship is so tall, it is amazing how far you can see beyond the shore from the top deck! • Deck 4 has an exterior promenade which does not completely encircle this deck like smaller ships. Since I exercise each day, one windy day at sea that prevented me from using the top deck, this deck was perfect and you can circle the entire ship if you are willing to climb a set of stairs near the bow which adds to your exercise. If you are looking for a quiet place, this is one of your best bets, particularly on the stern. • Speaking of quiet places, if you seek to be away from the noise of the pool area try the following: the library - deck 7, the business lounge - deck 6, Viking Crown Area – deck 14 or Internet Café at time – deck 8. • Speaking of noisy places, we found to be a problem on at certain times of the day. We first noticed it from our inside cabin as it faced the interior boardwalk/shop area on deck 7. Amazingly enough it was only a problem for us the first night. After that the evening commotion, late-night parades and music did not keep us awake. • Our cabin was a bit small in comparison to what we are use to on other ships. By square footage it was about 20% less space than on their competitor’s ships. Since we were in an interior cabin, this made it a bit more apparent since we normally are in a balcony cabin. • Storage was adequate but again on the small side in comparison in both the drawer and closet area. For a 1-week cruise it was not a major problem as we have learned putting unused items under the bed gives you floor space. • The bathroom was nice, clean and adequate. For me the shower was too small. I am over 6’ 2” and 200+ lbs. and could not bend over to scrub any part below my knees. It was funny as I dropped the soap once and had to open the door to pick it up. Again for just a 1-week cruise it was not irritating. • The main dining room was most impressive! The 3 deck arrangement makes it ideal for handling the large numbers of passengers at 2 seatings. • The dining room staff was excellent, well-trained and added to the evening meal experience. • The food seemed to us to be average and not to the level of many of the other cruise lines. This would include the appetizers, salads, soups, meats, vegetables and deserts. Seldom did we get a dish that we could state it was excellent. Almost all of them were average at best. This is an area that RCI could work to improve. Summary: Sometimes it is important to balance the very best with the not so good. There are few cruise ships that provide the perfect cruise vacation. That is the very reason there are so many ships with so many different appeals to various folks. We liked this ship. The highlight for us was the skating show. We would do this ship again only if we were taking family of various ages and needs. We did have a very nice time, just not spectacular!

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Nov 26, 2005

Western Caribbean

Introduction: Well, it’s the end of November in Cleveland, and that is my cue to head for warmer climes. Besides, I was beginning to suffer wanderlust and needed a cruise jolt. Although I have been to the Caribbean on numerous occasions, I had not yet sailed on the Navigator of the Seas and the timing was perfect. So, I was looking forward to joining other travel professionals on a seminar-at-sea. Since the weather is always unpredictable

this time of year in this area of the country, I made arrangements to fly to Florida a day before the cruise (something I always advise, if at all possible). As it turned out, that was a very wise decision. Now, there was a winter storm that brought a significant amount of snow to our area on Thanksgiving Day, but my flight from Cleveland the next day actually left on time. However, I had to change planes in Nashville and that is where my problems began. There was a substantial delay to my flight leaving Nashville. Had I chosen to fly in the day of the cruise, in all likelihood, I would have missed the cruise. As it was much cheaper to fly to Fort Lauderdale and take a shuttle to Miami the day of the cruise, I made reservations at a hotel near the airport for one night. Embarkation: I took a taxi from my hotel in Fort Lauderdale to pier and Miami ($80 including tip) and arrived at the port about 10:30 AM. There was a sign that indicated embarkation was scheduled to begin at 2:00 PM, but that was not actually the case. When we arrived, a fairly long line was already beginning to form at the security checkpoint. In fact, thanks to the priority boarding Diamond Members in the Crown and Anchor Society are provided, my friends and I were on the ship before 11:30 AM. This is just one of the reasons that it is quite worthwhile to cruise on Royal Caribbean often. While our staterooms were not ready this early, we were welcomed aboard and invited to have lunch at the Windjammer Café. --One of the primary concerns of an Atrium Cabin is that the noise from the Promenade will filter into your room. I found the room remarkably quiet, with the exception of the music during the 2 promenade parades and even then it was not overly invasive. However, I was on deck 8 and not near any of the speakers mounted along the promenade wall. --Get your morning cup of coffee from the Café Promenade or room service. --Don’t miss the Ice Show – it is a definite “Must-See”. --Make sure to read your Daily Compass for the announcement as to where and when to secure your Ice Show tickets. --Internet access on this ship is affordable and accessible. It is wired for Wi-Fi, and there are a number of hot spots throughout the ship. There are a number of computer terminals in the Internet café, as well as other locations throughout the ship. RC now offers the standard $.50 a minute pricing plus various packages ($25 for 59 min / $35 for 89 min / $50 for 151 min). The is also Cyber Cabin convenience for a one-time access fee. --If you are considering laptop Wi-Fi service, you might want to consider booking a stateroom on deck 8 near the Internet café. Due to their proximity to the Internet café, many of the members of our group found they had wi-fi service in their cabins. --One of the latest technologies to become available on the Navigator is wireless mobile maritime service. If you have a mobile phone that has GPRS capabilities you will be able to use your own mobile phone while out at sea. Looking Down on the Navigator of the Sea's Atrium Overall Impression: The Navigator of the Seas is a floating resort. Its revolutionary design and unparalleled amenities make it a great choice for first time cruisers, active couples, singles and families. This would be a perfect ship for anyone considering a family reunion on a cruise ship. With so much to offer onboard, the Navigator of the Seas IS the destination. The actual ports of call are just an added bonus. It does not have the feel or style of a typical ocean liner. So, if quiet days spent watching the ocean is your idea of a perfect cruise, then this ship is not for you. But if you love resort vacations with non-stop activity, then the Navigator (or any of the Voyager Class ships) fits the bill. I had a great time on the Navigator and would not hesitate sailing her again.

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Nov 12, 2005

Western Caribbean

We just finished our first cruise on the Navigator of the seas and it was fantastic. I read a few reviews before and was prepared for long queues, average food and a lack of chairs but experienced none of that. The on-ship experience was truly 10/10. The off-ship experience, in sharp contrast, probably not even 1/10. Let's start with the on-ship experience. Ship. The Navigator of the Seas is a beautiful ship. Twice we spent a couple

of hours just wandering through all the decks. I was amazed how everything was decorated and the attention that was given to details. During most of our trip there was a heavy wind (6-8) but you hardly notice it. I can get seasick on a 1 hour crossing from UK to France but had never any problem on this trip. Accommodation. We loved our cabin. The bed was comfortable. More than enough cupboard space. Pleasant lights. The temperature was a bit hard to control. We often left the door to the balcony open at night to let some warmth in. The room attendant (Steve from Costa Rica) was superb. Twice daily everything was cleaned. I still wonder how he always managed to do that in the short time we were out and never needed to disturb us when we were in our room. We loved the different animals they made of the towels. Entertainment. Superb. Especially the Ice show. This was without doubt the best show. Do not forget to get tickets early because this is in a small theatre and there are only a few shows. But the other shows are very good as well. Something for everyone’s taste. Musical, Rock and Roll, stand up comedy etc. I also liked the English humour of the Cruise Director. In the different bars there was always good life music. Activity. Too much to do it all. We did some ice skating which was very good. Found it hard though after so many years. The gym was very good, as well as the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi. We wanted to do so much more but just did not have the time or energy. We did not use the pool. It is not something where you can swim in, it is more to cool off during sun bathing. In a lot of reviews many people are irritated about the reserving of chairs with towels. Royal Caribbean put some signs up that it is not allowed, but that is about all. Charging $20 if you loose a towel helps as well I think. Especially around the “pool” all seats were occupied or “reserved”. But we had no problem finding empty chairs either in the sun or in the shadow a bit away from the pool and the band. Food. Some reviews complain about the food but I think those are from people married to a chef of a restaurant with 3 Michelin Stars. I have not yet found a Hotel in the UK that can match it. Both in the main restaurant and buffet it was absolutely great. For lunch we went to the buffet. The choice you have there is amazing. Dinner was so good that we did not go for any of the “special” restaurants. And again the attention to detail was surprising. One of the guests on our table had a special diet and that was always taken care of in detail as well. The 24 hour sandwich bar was so much better than I expected. Real fresh bread rolls or croissants with ham and cheese. Top quality. The assortment of delicious cakes was a bit too good. We often found it too tempting not to have any with our coffee, which was of good quality as well. Service. Really great. I get annoyed quickly by the often artificial and heavily exaggerated friendliness of service in the US. Off course there was a bit of that as well but not to a level that was irritating. In most cases I think it was even genuine. The waiters in the restaurant were very good, gave good advice and again paid attention to detail. But even the people who are not nominated to receive a tip at the end of the trip or receive a service charge went all the way for you. I once asked someone who was cleaning a closed coffee buffet where I could get some milk and he insisted that I would go to my seat and he would get it for me at another coffee buffet. And this is only one example. It was either genuine or they hired very good actors. Talking about it with other guests we think Royal Caribbean treats their staff very well, so they really enjoy their job which makes a big difference. Overall on-ship experience. A really good holiday and we will definitely cruise again. We had a few days with some rain but there is so much to do that you hardly notice it. We never had to qeue up for anything and were impressed by the friendly staff and delicious food. Off-ship experience. Absolute disaster. The strange thing is that Royal Caribbean puts a lot of effort in it to make the chaos as big as possible. At least you cannot create so much chaos if you do not do anything at all. I mean the check-in process. Endless queues, no signs where to go to, no information what to expect and above all very rude staff. In Europe you would probably have to face a protest group if you would treat immigrants like that. Even the staff on the transfer bus to the Hotel was terrible. Loudly complaining that he was not happy with the amount of tip he had received! Luckily we had a good day, partly cloudy and normal temperature, but I cannot imagine how it is like with for example 3 small children on a sunny or rainy day. Question is why Royal Caribbean allows this to happen. Either it is done on purpose because after that experience everything looks great or someone is subsidized by a competing cruise company.

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May 27, 2005

Western Caribbean

Embarkation and onboard: This went pretty smoothly. I had researched this trip, excursions, etc. quite extensively for months before selecting anything. Even though it was recommended to take a flight the day before to have some leeway, we decided that we didn’t want to deal with hotels, shuttles, rent-a-car, and instead elected to fly in on a “redeye.” We arrived in Miami at 7am…unfortunately, our luggage did not. We still

had plenty of time though, and were reunited with our suitcases by 8:30am. Had a light breakfast at airport café, then easily hailed a taxi van to carry the four of us (me, DH, 18 yo son, 13 yo daughter) and our mountain of luggage to the Port of Miami (flat rate of $21 plus tip for driver). Porters were waiting at curbside to collect our bags and take them to the ship. Our tipping philosophy is simple—if someone provides a service for a task we would rather not have to perform, especially with a pleasant attitude, we are quite happy to tip appropriately. We waited for about an hour in the terminal, the boarding process was painless, and we were having a buffet lunch in the Windjammer by 11:30. The buffet wasn’t crowded at that time, but does get quite congested by noon, and is VERY crowded every morning between 9 & 11:00. We are early risers and beat the rush most days. The dining room breakfast and lunch are less harried. Room service is another good option if you aren’t a morning person, and actually want to sit and eat your meal while it is still warm. The food in the Windjammer/Jade is alright—not great, not terrible, with a decent selection. Husband and I have far different tastes than our teens, but we all found something to eat. We were in a balcony stateroom on deck eight, port side. No adjoining balcony to our right, so pretty good view and some extra deck room. Stateroom was decent-sized, although the first thing we did was move the little coffee table onto the deck to give us some walking room since we were four to the cabin. Was pleasantly surprised by the amount of space for clothes—lots of shelves and drawers. Was glad the shower had a door, rather than curtain. However, I am a petite, slender female and it felt claustrophobic at times, especially when trying to maneuver to shave legs, etc. The junior suite wasn’t available when we booked, but would definitely recommend upgrading if possible. Our stateroom attendant was Raul, and we had him clear out the contents of the mini-fridge the first evening. Our large suitcases fit under the bed quite nicely. Our suitcases didn’t arrive outside our door until 5:30 (dinner @ 6pm), but Raul told us the dress code is very relaxed on the first night. We wore shorts/capris, as did most of the other diners on the first evening. Meals: Oh my. We had heard that the food is often nothing to write home about these days on cruise ships. I don’t know what those who wrote those reviews are used to consuming, but our dinners in the dining room were delicious. We are accustomed to fine dining, and were not disappointed by what we were served. The presentation was understated, but still pleasing and elegant. One negative—the lettuce in the salads was not very crisp, and while the Caesar and vinaigrette dressings tasted fine, they were tossed in with a heavy hand by galley staff. Ironically, the wine list featured primarily California wines—most from vineyards we are very familiar with. Our wait staff was superb! By the 2nd evening, our waiter (Gilberto from Costa Rica) and assistant waiter (Ruben from Chile) knew what beverages the kids liked, and had the drinks placed as we were laying our napkins across our laps. Their recommendations were right on target, and we couldn’t have asked for better service. Although again, I had read several reviews stating the head waiter usually isn’t a presence until the cruise nears its end, our head waiter (Claude from Belgium) introduced himself on the first evening, and came by our table nightly to chat and inquire how our meal suited. On the 2nd evening, he learned my daughter enjoyed pasta dishes. He told us he had some “chef” training and liked to prepare Italian food. On the Venetian-themed night, he prepared a special spaghetti and meatball platter (not on the menu) for my youngest. This type of personal attention from most of the staff was present, and appreciated, throughout our cruise. We did take the Milano’s (and others) suggestions regarding tipping the recommended amount at the beginning of the voyage, with extra on the last night, appropriate to the services provided. Perhaps this was responsible for the wonderful treatment we received…whatever the reason, we felt absolutely pampered! While my husband and I are awake and ready to go by 6-7am, our teenagers are typical of others their age, and enjoy a later wakening. On most days, DH and I had a light breakfast and coffee at the Café Promenade on Deck 5—very quiet early in the AM. Some mornings, we ordered breakfast delivered by room service for the kids (order must be placed outside door by 3am). We didn’t make reservations at either of the two specialty dining establishments, but heard from others on our sailing that they were worth the extra fee. We have a Johnny Rocket’s in the city we reside, so did not visit that eatery while on board. Although we also enjoy a Ben & Jerry’s within walking distance of our home, my daughter did purchase a couple of scoops during the trip. Enjoyed the after dinner wine-tasting & chocolates at Vintages. Took another online suggestion, and ordered room service sandwiches the night before excursions that were scheduled to run into lunchtime. Items fit easily into the now-empty refrigerator in the stateroom. The only complaint I have regarding the food service on this trip was the woman who answered the phone/took room service orders. She was blatantly rude and argumentative on three separate calls. I don’t think this was just our perception, as the smilingly apologetic response we received when we asked the room service waiter about the availability of a certain item was “I am so sorry, I don’t know…but don’t worry or be afraid to call and ask--it’s her job.” We did note her behavior on the guest satisfaction survey turned in at the end of the voyage, in addition to all our positive experiences with the rest of the staff. Activities: What a variety of things to do on this ship! We enjoyed the well-outfitted gym (not very crowded from 6-8am) on several mornings. We played mini-golf a few times, although the wind makes for some interesting shots. We all inline skate at home, but didn’t try the track onboard—looked pretty narrow. The guys played in a dodgeball tournament, winning “shipshape” dollars to exchange for merchandise. The youngest enjoyed the arcade…but be forewarned, the games are pricey here. We wanted to climb the rock wall, but signups took place on the hour, and we were always somewhere else on the ship, and didn’t especially want to wait in line—enjoyed warm and sunny weather all but the last day. The pools were smaller than our backyard one, but not cold like I had read on some boards. They are saltwater and VERY crowded on at-sea days. Was easy to find a lounge chair if you didn’t need to be close to the pools. One plus (for us), or minus, depending on personal preference: the pool bars close after dark, so the pools and hot tubs are virtually deserted in the evenings. DH and I had the entire Solarium pool/whirlpool area to ourselves one evening after dinner. While I enjoy the occasional pedicure or massage while not on vacation, just didn’t feel the need to spend the money for spa treatments at sea, especially with so many other things to do. Ship is a cash-free system with everything charged to Seapass account (easy to check transactions on TV in room). Cashed traveler’s checks at purser’s desk or casino before shore trips (many local merchants accept credit cards as well). Shows: Having never been on a cruise, didn’t have a comparison here, but did enjoy the production shows. The comedian one night, Nick Lewin, was very entertaining. The ice show is also a must see. The rink is tiny, but the performers still do the jumps and acrobatics they do in a larger venue. Ken Rush was the cruise director and did a great job. We didn’t stay up for the welcome aboard parade on the first evening, but DS did and said it was worth watching. The theaters are comfortable and the timing worked out well for us most nights (we had main seating for dinner). PORTS Labadee: Were pleasantly surprised by this stop. This is RC’s private “island” (a peninsula) on Haiti. We were on the second tender and on the beach in short order. The beaches are lovely, but we tend to avoid crowds and went to the last (“hideaway”) beach—just follow the signs. This is a very poor country, and while the lounge chairs/hammocks are free, the local staff rushes to position them and carry for you, hoping for a tip. The chairs are heavy and were carried quite a distance to the spot we desired, so didn’t mind tipping for the service. The water was very clear at this beach, and snorkeling was okay—nothing spectacular. Saw some fish and a small octopus. RC requires that all snorkelers (even if you bring your own gear, as we did) wear an inflatable vest (it doesn’t have to be inflated) for a $6 rental fee. Additional benefit of being away from the masses—this wasn’t enforced where we were. The BBQ provided was okay, and we also had to try a “Labadoosie” beverage. Didn’t even attempt the local market, as others on beach shared their experiences and confirmed what I had read—VERY high pressure sales. On the way back to ship, passed the first beach and Aqua-park—looked like everyone on the ship was there…don’t know how people were swimming with it that congested! Ochos Rios: We didn’t book anything through the ship. We had wanted to experience Dunn’s River Falls without having to go with a group (Did I mention my aversion to large crowds? *grin*). Easily found a taxi (use ones with red plates), with “no problem Horace” as our driver. Don’t remember how much the fare was, but was reasonable and we paid for round-trip transportation. A pick-up time and place were arranged and we paid the entrance fee ($15 a person) to enter the recreation area. We were very disappointed as we were herded into groups and told everyone must climb with a guide. I like climbing, but just really hate not having my hands free when I do so. We attempted several times to separate from the group, but were actually told at one point, “you all look the same to me, so stay together, otherwise I won’t know who to get tip from.” There really wasn’t an opportunity to just enjoy the beauty of the falls with two groups of 40-50 climbing simultaneously, and being pushed/pulled to “hurry.” The final straw was when the guide repeatedly splashed water into my daughter’s face (she wears contacts) because she wasn’t moving fast enough for his liking. We exited the water at that point, with the guide trailing our steps, shouting “you tip me now.” Wish I could say this was isolated behavior, but this attitude from the locals continued at every place we stopped. The shops at exit weren’t as high-pressure as I had read. The shopkeepers on the island had most merchandise priced higher than it is on the boardwalk shops of coastal CA (example--$20 or more for baseball cap), and when we haggled, we got comments like “why you so cheap, you can afford it.” Must state, we were dressed simply in shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops--no jewelry, nor name-brand accessories--so must conclude this assumption was simply because we were tourists. My daughter was looking for a spaghetti-strap sundress for Caribbean night at dinner. One shopkeeper pulled out a dress with sleeves and muttered, “why you need thin straps, this is better” along with insults towards my child (which thankfully, she did not hear). We went to Magaritaville for lunch and then back to the ship. Based on this experience, we will likely never return to Jamaica. Georgetown, Grand Cayman: Based on web reviews and my own email correspondence with them, I booked Stingray City and 2 other snorkel stops with Captain Marvin’s. Sadly, my daughter woke up with 102 fever, so she and I stayed on the ship. My husband and son did go, and had a great time. There were only a dozen people onboard, and Captain Marvin was present on the boat—sharing lots of entertaining stories and info. They reported that the crew were very helpful, and they saw a 6-foot nurse shark, and green eel (coaxed out by crew member). The stingrays were apparently MUCH larger than those in the pet/feeding pools at Sea World, plentiful, and seemed to enjoy the attention. We were charged for only the two who participated. The guys did a little shopping before returning to the ship, and brought us back souvenirs. The prices on rum cakes were comparable to those onboard the Navigator (a dollar less on the island). All in all, an enjoyable day and one we (DD and I) were sorry to have missed. A side note—this was the more FORMAL night for dining. Daughter wasn’t feeling up to dinner, but I adore lobster and was curious whether it would be served this night as it wasn’t on the first formal evening. Called room service and asked what was available for dinner. The person who answered (not the rude woman) said, ‘lobster, prime rib…there is a menu outside the dining rooms for a full selection.’ We thought “great, we can still have lobster, and not have to leave our sick child in cabin.” When I called to place order (by this time, too late to dress for dinner), the rude woman told us that the lobster was NEVER available by room service and NO ONE would have told us it was (so I either imagined it or am pathological liar?). Also, even though it was repeated back to me correctly, she wrote down our order wrong (was shown ticket by waiter) twice that evening. We finally had our ordered meal (with no lobster!) delivered at 8:30pm. By that point, we just wanted to wrap up a bad night and start fresh the next AM. Cozumel: Loved this stop! Living where we do, are familiar with both language and culture. Don’t mind working out prices with eager shopkeepers a bit, and this place was much cleaner than most of the border towns south of San Diego and Texas that I have visited. I had booked a three-stop snorkel/snuba tour with Mayan Paradise. They were waiting for us at the designated spot and had our names on a list. This is an important thing to keep in mind—the local tour operators want you on their boats, and so will tell you “yes, yes, this is boat you are looking for” (this happened to others on the same tour, and was attempted with us, but luckily we knew it wasn’t our tour, and the others in our group quickly realized the same). The waters here are absolutely breath-taking, and the abundance and variety of marine life were fabulous! If you don’t scuba, but want great experience, highly recommend the snuba option. Went down about 20 feet and saw large eel, pretty coral, and LOTS of fish. The guide took a family picture with his underwater digital and it was waiting for us via email when we arrived home (small fee). Crew were friendly and eager to please. Went to Chankanaab, Paraiso, Dzul Ha. Can also snorkel these locations from shore without paying for boat trip, if not interested in the Snuba portion. Good shopping, and remember to haggle—it’s expected. Photos: Every evening at dinner (except last night) were offered portrait op, and also every time leaving the ship (we passed on these, as were dressed for active days—in other words, no makeup *g*). Pictures were decent quality--$19.95 for 8X10. Debarkation: This was least favorite part of the trip. Had bags outside by midnight (remember to keep out something to wear for trip home). I am also a bit untrusting, so zip-tied the bags before placing them in hallway. We had 1pm flight, so got third color tags. Waited in theater for color to be called--off ship by 8am. Customs line was LONG, but going through no problem. Collecting our baggage was another story. Took over an hour to get all our luggage. Most bags are black, red, or navy. We put our surname initial in white fabric paint on front of bag, and tied big yellow ribbons on handles. Unfortunately, lots of yellow (and red) ribbons on most of the black bags. American has a luggage/flight check-in at the port, so didn’t have to haul our bags to the airport with us. Overall, great vacation, and we are already planning our next cruise with Royal Caribbean.

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Apr 22, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

I would like to share my experience of my family’s cruise on the vessel Navigator of the Seas. Needless to say the cruise was great disappointment. Saturday - We arrived approximately 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, 2005 for the embarking procedure. All went well, from the porter taking our luggage at the curb (we did not opt for the airport vouchers) through the embarking procedure. From what I read, I thought this would be a long

tedious procedure. – it was not. In fact getting off and returning to the vessel on all the ports went very smoothly. In walking around the ship we went to the ship’s Spa. We got on a tour that was very informative. At the end of the tour they said if you take a massage today you will receive $20 off. I tried to make an appointment for the message but they were all booked for the day. I suggested since they cannot make good on the discount today that they honor the offer for one of my two massages that I am booking with them today. They said no. I thought that was poor customer relations. We were wandering around the sights in the promenade and decided to make reservations at the Chops Grille. We went to the Champagne bar to call. The bartender was very helpful. We tried the extension twice – no answer. The bartender tried and he said this was very unusual. He finally got someone and he said to call back in five minutes. We did - no answer. I went up to the Grille and there was no one at the front entrance of the restaurant. I asked someone to find someone for me and he did. How much effort and energy does a guest have to make? I made the reservation for Friday night. About 7:00 p.m. we returned to our cabin and we were still missing one piece of luggage. There was a voicemail (the phone system was easy to follow) that there was one large piece being held by security. I went down to guest relations and they had security escort me to the luggage. They asked me to open the luggage, which was now on the floor. I did. I asked them what are you looking for. The security agent, did not know because she was not the one to examine the bag. She called the supervisor via a walkie talkie and then asked me if I had a knife. I said no. She said O.K. I closed up the luggage and she told me I could take it. I was shocked on two counts. After x-raying my luggage and questioning the items in it, to let me regain control of it after answering a security question with a simple “no”, shocked me. This lead me to believe that your security is very weak and how does this impact my family. The second situation was when the security agent was done with the luggage she wanted ME to move this large piece by myself back to the cabin. I told her YOU bring it up to the room and left. I went to guest relations to complain about the above situation. Question: Are the steward and their assistant suppose to introduce themselves to you? If so, they did not on this day or any other day. Sunday – My wife and I went to the Pilaties class at 9:00 a.m. It was our first introduction to this type of class. We enjoyed it but were surprise when we were paying the $10 surcharge that the instructor suggested to us to tip him where the receipt is marked “TIP”. In using the shower in the cabin I notice there was no shampoo or conditioner. Something that I thought would be common place in an upscale cruise line. So we went to the general store and purchased shampoo and body wash. We went to the Windjammer for breakfast. We perused the selection and were bumping into people left and right. No flow of people - we were warned by other people who went on the Navigator or Voyager this would be a problem. They were right! But we had no choice because the dinning room was closed. I ordered a tomato and mushroom omelet of which I supposed to come back in six minutes. (There was only one cook making the omelets.) I did and received an everything omelet. I had to convince the person handing me the omelet that it was not what I ordered. She retook the order and asked me to come back in another six minutes. I thought I was back in college in a self serve cafeteria. I went to the both ketchup dispensers – emptied or broken. I spoke to one of the staff – she perfunctory got some ketchup packets – with no smile and no apology. This was the last time I would experience the Windjammer. I approached the Explorations desk in the a.m. and explained to the women that I wanted a sailing cruise. She suggested that I take a Sailing/Snorkeling excursion. I responded that I wanted sailing only. Her response was, “Take this brochure (6 detailed pages) read it, and get back to me on what you want to sign up for.” I responded, “What are you here for? I need direction on what to take.” She THEN showed me a couple of sailing cruises. So she knew what I wanted but why did I have to press her for the answer? In trying to make use of all the space in the cabin I realized that you could stow away your luggage underneath the beds. I also realized that the steward did not fully clean the room because I found receipts underneath the bed and also plastic bags that were tuck in between the couches. By now the waste paper basket was at capacity from Saturday AND Sunday’s garbage. Yes you are correct in assuming that the waste paper basket was not emptied in two days even though the steward was in the room twice a day. You are probably saying why didn’t you talk to someone at guest relations. I did. The person response was that this is a very hectic day and if I insisted on speaking to a manager then I will get you one. I said, “Yes”. Again he told me that this was a very hectic day … and I said “Yes” again. This dialogue went back and forth three times when I realized I was NOT going to be able to speak to a manager. He took copious notes and said someone will get back to you –. A women in charged of Explorations called me back and her comment was that this person was in training. I told her on the busiest day you have a woman in training with no support. I went and saw Keith regarding the security. He politely listened and gave us a complementary bottle of wine at dinner. I went to the dining room to make arrangements for my Wife’s birthday that night at dinner. The manager wrote in his memo pad our table number (339) and what desert I wanted to giver her. That Sunday for dinner – Nothing!! I went to the guest relations also on Sunday morning to order some flowers for my wife’s birthday. The Guest relations women reads in the loose leaf book and says, “They are only open from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.” Again I had to assert myself and suggest for her to find someone. She did and I was able to speak to the gentlemen directly. After prying out of him that there are other choices than roses, the florist made a nice variety and had them delivered that day at 12:30 p.m. My wife and I found two chairs on deck 12 at the bow. It was a beautiful day and we were beginning to relax. Someone came around to offer us drinks. My wife ordered the drink of the day (Mango Tango) and I order a Margarita. I asked for Cuervo Gold of which he said, “We do no carry any” Twenty minutes later he comes back with the drinks of which mine had about six small ice cubes. Did you ever try drinking a warm margarita? Don’t - it was awful not only because of the warmth but it was terrible made. When I go on vacation I usually indulge especially when I am not driving. That was the last drink I had on the ship. My wife enjoyed the Mango Tango. By the way your onboard Liquor Store carries Cuervo Gold. It was 1:45 p.m. and we decided to have lunch in the dining room. We were seated at a table for two. The waiter took our entire order including dessert. I thought it was very unusual but later I figured out why. At 2:00 p.m. the cooks have already disassembled the pasta area. I have already eaten the fish and was still pretty hungry. I asked the waiter for some pasta and he replied, “I am sorry but it is all put away. About ten minutes latter I told the waiter that I was really disappointed about not having some pasta. I am sitting in a restaurant on a cruise ship and I was going to leave still feeling hungry! My blood pressure shot up and I physically went to a head waiter who cordially asked what I wanted on the pasta of which he brought promptly. I am thinking that the amount of effort one has to make on this cruise to be served especially for food was shocking. Now for the desert – I ordered pie ala-mode. I received it with the melted ice cream! The reason the waiter asks for the full order is because he only has to make one trip to the kitchen – which is on the other side of the dining room. Monday - after the steward supposedly cleaned the room - they still had not emptied the waste paper basket that is under the desk. Yes, you have it correct that for two and half days the wastepaper basket was not emptied and yes it was at 120% of capacity, Again, I went to guest relations and now started to complain about the treatment I have been receiving on the vessel. I spoke to Keith again and strongly suggested the he have the steward empty the wastepaper basket and change the sheets. They did. This morning my wife and I decided to have breakfast in the dining room. We were quickly escorted to a table with eight other people. The table did not have complete silverware or water. After I requested these items for the table it was then brought. My wife was offered coffee but she drinks decaffeinated. Another person offered coffee and again my wife wanted decaf. A THIRD time a person came to offer coffee for my wife and then I told that person “Get my wife some decaf coffee.” She finally got her coffee. My Wife did complement on how good the coffee tasted but regretted that I had to order your staff around in order to get it. You have great pastries (especially the croissants) but they are only offered once. Yes I did ask for more, twice – once when the waiter was taken my order and again when I was being served – never got them! My experiences with the staff in different parts of the ship was so disappointing during these last first two days that I cancelled both restaurant reservations – one at Portofino (Monday night for four), the other at the Chop’s Grille (Friday night for four) and my Friday’s 11:30 a.m. appointment at the Spa. Tuesday - At 8:00 a.m. the announcements for St. Thomas disembarkment were made even in the interior corridors. I came on the cruise to relax and not have to be on a set schedule and certainly not to be woken up at 8:00 a.m.!! This not only today but also tomorrow when we arrived at St. Martin. The explanation that I was given by the Cruise Director was that the passengers need to know when the ship is cleared to disembark. What about the people who are still sleeping? His response, “A smile.” Again my wife and I decided to eat at the dining room for breakfast. I cordially asked the person who coordinated the seating if we could sit by ourselves. He was not too happy and explained that it would take some time to set up a table. It only took a few minutes and we seated and had nice breakfast. This time I persisted with the waiter to be served more croissants each time I saw him – I got them. The original bar of soap that I received on Saturday for the shower now became a sliver. Again I waited for the steward the opportunity to clean the room and but again no new soap! I then had to call the steward for additional soap. Something I have never done before. One last thing regarding the Stewards - on the Friday night when you get the check out list it mentions a guest survey. Is that given to a select few or is everybody supposed to receive one. We did not receive one in either cabin! I went to guest relations to receive mine. Just to illustrate that not everything in the cabin was terrible – the room was extremely quiet, and the ventilation was superb. You did not feel stuffy and the HVAC was extremely quiet too. I took my two teenagers on an scuba diving excursion. I address twice with Sea Trek about the experience level of my two teenagers and if they should take the one hour class in the pool before going on the excursion. They told me it was a waste of money because the excursion would do the same training also in a few feet of water. They were WRONG!! The results were that my daughter did not have enough time to acclimate to the scuba gear because the class was in 30 feet of water and with all the equipment on her it was too intimidating. She snorkeled around and waited for us on the boat. Wednesday - Again my wife and I decided to eat at the dining room for breakfast. We again asked to be seated by ourselves. This seating coordinator was more resistant and began an explanation on why this was not advantageous to us. By this time on the cruise I have had it with the staff and I interrupted him and I said in a stern and arrogant fashion “I don’t want to hear it!” He seated us and we had a nice breakfast. Again my two teenagers and I went on another excursion – Sailing. This was well planned including the number of people allowed on the boat. The crew was animated, fun and very knowledgeable about sailing. We all had a great time. (p.s. Our sailboat came in first of the three that were competing.) In walking around the ship, you take for granted on how well maintained and clean it is both inside and outside of the common areas. In this category I give the vessel high marks. The interior is beautifully decorated including the artwork. I happen to see the movie Wimbledon on Friday in the plush theater. The screen size was excellent for the size of room, ventilation was quiet and comfortable especially in the plush seating. We saw four Shows which were quite good and entertaining. The food was generally good to very good but the staff really detracted from the experience. One last story to top off my eating experience on the Navigator. The last meal (Saturday morning) we ate with a “group table” and when I had poured out the ketchup it was full of cocktail sauce. The waiter quickly replace it. There are more experiences I had with the staff on the remaining days but I feel you got the gist. In conclusion on a scale of one to ten, my kids rate the vacation an eight and my wife and I rate it a five. I guess the anticipation of being pampered was overrated.  

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Mar 26, 2005

Western Caribbean

Jami Gray We just came home from a wonderful 7 day cruise vacation on the Navigator of the Seas. We chose this ship because of the Eastern Caribbean itinerary (San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Nassau) and all of the activities available on board. We are in our 40's and have a 16 year old son. The best parts of the cruise ship were the sports deck, the Royal Promenade, the deck space and chair availability, and the Solarium

pool. Our son's favorite parts of the ship were the sports deck, the "party" pool, and the nighttime activities. We rarely saw him on board, but he could easily find us when he needed us. I didn't realize that 18 year old kids can drink legally, beer and wine, on this cruise line. We saw many underage drinkers- we'll choose Carnival for our son's senior cruise trip for that reason. We normally don't take the excursions that the ships supply. We find that they are expensive and we don't like lining up and following anyone around :) We normally just find a taxi after making decisions on beaches to visit online before the vacation. One stop was St. Thomas. We have been to this island before, so we headed straight for a great beach, Sapphire Beach. We took an open air bus ($24 each way for all three of us) It was breath taking! Snorkeling was $5 per hour to rent, but they didn't even check the time when we returned the equipment a couple of hours later. Lots of coral, fish, and even a sea turtle. It was spring break and the beach wasn't too full. In St. Maarten we went to Orient Beach (private taxi, $24 each way). Our son parasailed ($45) and had a riot. The southern end of the beach was totally nude, but the rest was a "normal" fully/partially clothed beach. There were plenty of chairs to rent and cheap drinks ($1 beer, $3 lunches) and food to buy. Some cute vendor's shops were there, too. Our other two stops were a bit less than we'd expected, but they were 1/2 days stops (getting into port after 1). We will not take a cruise that has these 1/2 day stops from now on. San Juan, Puerto Rico was OK. We found a nice, big beach and took a taxi ride after we toured Old San Juan a bit on foot. Nassau was the worst stop, we felt like cattle throughout the whole stop. We took a nice ferry to Paradise Island and stayed on the Atlantis Hotel beach- very nice. Fresh coconut drinks (directly out of the coconut) made by the locals- great! Days at sea were very relaxing (our choice)- they could have been very busy if we'd have chosen to do all the activities. We could always find a chair to lay on the top deck. The work out facilities are great! Good yoga classes. The general age of the cruisers was in the 40's with older children in high school and college. Nightlife was wild and all night long. The wait staff at dinner was great, but the food was average. Not nearly as good as Carnival and Disney. We were disappointed with the lack of fresh fish and fresh fruit. The lunch and breakfast bar was great. We never felt like we were in a huge crowd and the staff there really catered to us. Our room was on the 2nd floor. We decided to just get an oceanview room this trip and the room was just fine. The window was really big and the room itself was about the same as the rest of the cruiselines. Our room attendant was OK- he did his job, but did not go over and above as we've had before. It was clean and nice, though. We'd stay away from the 2nd and 3rd floor if we use this cruise line again- you can't get from the front to the back of the ship on either floor, you must go up to the 5th floor, across the ship, and back down to 2nd. It was a pain to remember and not get lost. Our son liked the climbing wall, the lines weren't too long. Embarkation was really quick! Debarkation wasn't too bad, it took us about 1 hour by the time our color was called, then about 30 min. to get a ride on the bus to the airport. In all, it was a vacation we'll remember for the rest of our lives. It is truly a HUGE ship!

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Mar 26, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

We took a family cruise, my wife, 10 year old son and my Mother during Easter week, the ship was very full. We had two balcony cabins side-by-side which worked out great on the 7th level. We arrived early (11ish) and embarkation was a little delayed due to many getting off, but not unexpected, we were able to get on around 2:00 PM, and that went smoothly. Our cabins were very nice, plenty of room, good TV selection, and the balcony is

a must have. The entire week we had great service, and really enjoyed the balcony. The ship is huge, but easy to get around. It takes a couple of days of exploring to take it all in, which is the fun part. Like I said, it was full, really full, but it never crowded. The kids were very well behaved, and everyone was friendly. Some of the promenade events got a little crowded, but if that is not your cup of tea you can move onto many other areas and activities. We enjoyed the dining every night; our wait staff was very good and took care of everything we needed. Some say the food is just OK, I am not inclined to eat in French restaurants every night so maybe my palette is not as spoiled, the food was very good overall. We eat many meals quickly, on the road and at ball parks so being able to sit down and enjoy being with family and having dinner served are wonderful for us. I liked the food. We ate most breakfasts in the windjammer, decent food, scrambled eggs were nothing to write home about, reminded me of my Army days. I heard that the breakfast and lunches in the ding room were very good and just as quick, check that out. We ended up eating late breakfasts so many days we skipped lunch, had a snack, since we had an early seating. There are nice sandwiches and pizza at the coffee bar in the promenade. We went to the pool almost every day, we did not run up and save chairs, they say this does not happen and those doing so will be thrown overboard, never saw that happen. We always managed to get a couple though, just keep an eye out and be aggressive. The pools were nice, needed to be a little shallower for some of the little ones, and the hot tubs were nice as well. We did not do the spa, I worked out once, very nice gym and spa for those who like that. The first stop was San Juan, skip it and stay on the ship, or take a quick walk. There is nothing downtown to really see that you won’t see nicer of on the Virgin Islands. There is a fort and I heard some liked that, we only had a afternoon and we would have had a better time on the ship. Second stop was St. Thomas, very nice. Shopped in the morning (make sure you attend the shopping talk given on the ship, very good info for new cruisers like us). Didn’t buy much, took my Mother to the ship, changed and the three of us went to Megin’s Bay Beach, the ride was worth the trip over, nice lookouts, taxi was cheap and the beach was nice. They had a food shack, the pizza and beer was very good. We rented the wife a chair, my son snorkel gear and everyone was happy. Third stop was St. Marteen, great stop. My son and I had a trip booked through shoretrips.com (I recommend them, good service and saved a bunch over the ships price) we took the Rhino Rider trip (only one outfit on the island), and had a blast. This is not for back backs or those who do not wish to jump a little powered raft type boat into the air, it can get rough, or you can take it a little easy, but you need to keep up with the group (5 of us). We left the bay and saw bountiful mega yachts, then out to sea along the coast to shipwreck bay, snorkeled for an hour and back, great trip. My wife and Mother took an Art Tour of the island that took them into many artists homes, they only had a few others with them, it was like a private tour and they really enjoyed it. We booked that on the ship. We all ended up at the ship around noon and my wife and I went to make her purchase, we had a one carat ring style picked out, shopped it at St. Thomas, she then talked to the shopping director who gave her cards with names and locations on them and we were off to make an offer. We got off the water taxi and into DI, made an offer and deal in less then 10 minutes, do you homework, know what you want to spend and use the shopping director to help guide you. We had time to wander the streets, stop and have a couple beers and people watch before heading back to the ship, great, great day. Forth stop was Nassau, we had a sail and snorkel trip booked that once we got off the ship found out it was canceled. They refunded the money, but with only a half day you are pressed to do something, we were done shopping. We grabbed a water taxi to Paradise Island, tip, take a land taxi, less walking to the hotels and beaches. We took one back. We paid to go into the aquarium at the Atlantis, nice, but more walking (and we had sandals and snorkel clothes on). We should have simply went to the beach. And you can pay to get into see the fish but you can’t use the pools, beach or other niceties at the Atlantis so unless you really like fish, save your money. The formal nights were fun, I bought a tux for another event and it nice to dress up like that some times. Look into buying one, you can get them for a decent price if you look around (Value City, didn’t hear that from me). And it pays for itself in no time. We had a blast, it was my Mothers first cruise and really her first “real” vacation. My wife and I took a 3 day cruise before in steerage on Carnival, this was much nicer. We will be returning, most likely to a RCI ship, to a sea far away from you.

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Mar 19, 2005

Western Caribbean

We went on this cruise during spring break with our two children ages 4 and 7. We were apprehensive about bringing the kids but it ended up working out very well. Embarkation was extremely smooth and took no time at all, we were on the ship around 1:00. We splurged on a Grand Suite and it was beautiful with plenty of room for the four of us. I loved the balcony and spent every morning out there with my room service coffee. The first

day, at sea, was very relaxing as we spent most of the day at the pool. That night was the first formal dinner and the whole family got dressed up and ate together. The kids definitely got restless as the dinners lasted a good two hours. We then watched the karaoke show and went to bed. Monday brought us to Labadee where it was HOT! The kids went into the water park and really enjoyed it. We ate the BBQ (good chicken), had a few drinks, and then couldn't stand the heat anymore. We went back on the ship and napped for a while. Then we cleaned up for dinner, the adults going to the dining room and the kids to the kids' club for the night. Our kids ended up spending a lot of time at the kids club. The staff was so welcoming and they really showed the kids a good time. Tuesday was Jamaica. We were with a large group and we all took buses to some caverns, about 1/2 hour drive. We had a tour and lunch and then did some shopping. Wednesday was Grand Caymans. The kids actually wanted to stay on the ship with the kids club so we got a day to ourselves. We shopped and had a long lunch at Breezes. Thursday was Cozumel. We went to the beach for a couple hours and then did our only excursion, a catamaran snorkel/beach trip. The catamaran was named Fury and it was a great time. The water was an amazing turquoise with lots of fish to be seen. Then we went to a private beach with kayaks, volleyball, float mats, and open bar. After about an hour we sailed back to the pier. Great excursion. That last day at sea was again spent at the pool and there were lots of events going on poolside (horse racing, volleyball, etc.). I did most of my packing that afternoon to get it out of the way. It was hard to get up Sat. morning, we had to be out of the room by 8:00. We hadn't been awake before 9:00 the whole cruise! We stumbled out and waited in the ice-skating arena where they showed a video of building the ship. We were one of the last people off the ship at about 11:45. We had a wonderful vacation. I think I saw maybe 60% of the ship, there is just so much to do that we missed (rock climing, golf, ice-skating, shows, etc.). Obviously having the kids with us somewhat curtailed out activities, especially at night. I would love to do this same cruise again. The weather was perfect, it was about 80 degrees and sunny everyday. The only thing I was a little disappointed in was the food. We ate in the dining room every night and never had a "wonderful" meal. No meals were bad, but none were great either. I did love our dining room waiter, Zoran, he was very helpful and attentive. Our suite attendant was great also, Natividad. Every single person on the ship was very helpful and friendly. We paid a lot for this vacation as it was peak season and we upgraded the room, but it was worth every dollar. Best vacation we've ever had!

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Jan 22, 2005

Western Caribbean

schubie@tds.net This is the first time that my wife and I sailed on the same ship and so soon after the first time. We have cruised on the same line before but we liked the NV so, we were back. The 'ritual of discovery' was eliminated. We knew where to go... where to avoid (there really were few areas to avoid... the Dungeon is really geared to the under 30 crowd and, as a 'reformed smoker' the Casino was a little too smoky for me at

times... but you will find that on ANY cruise ship). My wife and I are really night folks and the only problem that we found with the room service breakfast was how early we had to schedule it. And... yeah... the coffee is REALLY strong. Go for the scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage. The fruit is great and I'm really sorry that another contributor to this called the breakfast dreadful... it is not! Keep a couple of bucks for the tip on the table and a clean spot to put the tray and it will be OK! They call the room about 10 minutes before delivery and it comes hot and ready to eat... no problem! Labadee is delightful. They 'tender' you to the island and imagine a T... the bottom is where the tender lets you off and there is a TRAM that can take you to either side of the top of the T or you can choose to stay put. To the East, your kids can romp on water borne trampolines or rock climbing things or there is a super beach to the West. The ship serves up barbecue and the drinks and ice are from the ship so you don't have to worry about becoming sick. In Ocho Rios... do the Dunn's River Falls if you are fit... otherwise... just go like we go to Margarita Ville. I would recommend the Sting Ray City Tour in the Cayman Islands. These sea rays are about 4 feet across and will rub your legs like a kitten as you stand in the waist deep water. You can feed them squid (which is provided) and they will suck it up out of your hand like a vacuum cleaner. It is a little scary at first but just try to not step on one. RCCI doesn't do the Midnight Buffet every night... that is OK with me but some folks feel that it is a standard feature and they miss that. The ship is huge and you will not likely feel any pitching and yawing. At the door of 60... it is not a bad thing to have the Assistant Cruise Director (30's Something... Blonde and British) come up and say Looie... You are back and hug your neck). We will be back on Oct 15th... we know a good thing when we see it! When you read reviews from first-time cruisers, I think there are a lot of misunderstandings about what to expect on a ship.

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Jan 8, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was my first cruise and I wanted to do as much online research as possible so I could enjoy the experience and become familiar with the ship before boarding. I visited the Royal Caribbean website, reviewed the ship's layout and read every cruise review reported on this website (Cruisereviews.com) from the last two years. The main reason for this cruise was work related (for my husband). We had the honor of hosting 625 other passengers

as part of our group. As a rule, I am not too enthused about these annual business trips to various destinations, but I was excited about the cruise as I had heard so much about cruising throughout my life and it sounded like such a romantic trip. We spent the evening prior to our cruise departure at Miami's Hotel International. We weren't impressed, and it was very expensive. I won't tell you what we found in my husband's breakfast fruit cup (room service) but suffice it to say he stopped eating. The good thing about the hotel is that it is very close to the pier where the Navigator is docked. Royal Caribbean provided us with a shuttle bus and took care of our luggage. When we arrived at the terminal, it was crowded, but the embarkation, customs and boarding process was pretty smooth, taking only about 50 minutes. We were issued our SeaPasses, which really made any subsequent purchases on the ship very easy. We found our way to our balconied stateroom (#1688) easily and thought it was plenty big enough for the two of us. The bathroom is small, but we didn't spend more time than necessary in there. Our shower had curved shower doors which I had read about in previous reviews on this site. The water was always hot (very hot) and the water pressure was pretty good too. We had one incident the morning after we left Labadee when the hot water turned rusty, or reddish-brown in color, but that passed as more water was used. We never received an explanation of what that was about. The bed is quite another story. Our twin beds had been moved together, and a sort of "spine" had been run down the center to form one bed. It was most uncomfortable. Luckily the gentle rocking of the ship put us to sleep quite easily, as long as we each stayed on our own side of the bed. The mattress is no more than 4-5 inches thick and sits on a slab-like platform configuration. The pillows had a faint bad odor to them, so I slept with a towel on mine for the duration of the trip, but I just may be overly sensitive to smells. On that subject, the ship allows smoking in most areas, including the staterooms, so the cigarette and cigar smoke wafted quite readily throughout the hallways and common areas. A word about the safety drill that occurs at 4:30pm the first afternoon that you board. It was very confusing and not at all efficient. I would dread to see what would happen if it was a real emergency. There are many staff members placed throughout the decks, but few of them spoke English well enough to answer questions, or they said they were "new" and that they were unfamiliar with the ship. Eventually we all ended up where we were supposed to be (Assembly Stations) but there was no attendance taken to be sure that all passengers were accounted for. Regarding the food - there is plenty of it. We ordered room service on 3 breakfast occasions and they were prompt and called when they were on their way. The food, however, was dreadful, which is odd because the food in the dining room (The Nutcracker) was generally good to excellent. We decided to stop ordering room service unless it was for cold cereal, milk and juice. The coffee throughout the ship is dreadfully strong. Go to the Cafe Promenade where you can cut the coffee with hot water and prepare your own blend. Speaking of the Cafe Promenade, the small sandwiches and pastries there are great and it's open 24 hours. I was under the impression that there was a midnight buffet each evening (again, only my impression) but there were only 2. We missed the first one because we didn't know about it and we viewed the 2nd one. Our group was assigned to the 2nd dinner seating each evening and I think that an early dinner would be more conducive to attending shows, bars and seeing more of what the ship has to offer. The late dinner lasted until approximately 10:30 pm each night and by that time (due to our business obligations) we were too tired to do much of anything but return to our room and get to sleep. I found that most venues on the ship closed very early. I was under the impression that the ship was open all night. (though I hadn't read that anywhere) The only places open late were the Dungeon nightclub (catering to the 18-30 year old crowd) the Casino (which is smoke filled) and the Cafe Promenade. It would have been nice if the Cosmopolitan Club was open later than 1 am. A nice surprise was the Two Poets Lounge, with guitar minstrel James Blakemore. He would sing any song requested and even encouraged members of the audience to go up to his small stage and sing with him. We also attended the Ice Dancin' show and the Karaoke Idol contest which were enjoyable. Many of our co-cruisers (our tour group) went to the comedy shows and said they were fabulous. Because we had "official duties" my husband and I didn't attend as many shows as we would have like to. I'd like to say a few words about the ship's staff. Everyone was friendly, saying hello each time we passed them, but we never met our cabin steward and saw our cabin attendant only twice. The dining room staff was pleasant, but there were not the "great bonds" formed between us and our waiter, ass't waiter nor our head waiter, that I had read about in other reviews. Our waiter, Sam, was attentive and happy but the others were pretty invisible. The only seriously negative event to report was the method used to request tips for our Cabin Attendants, Head Waiter, Waiter and Assistant Waiter. The "strong urging" began on Wednesday with "suggested amounts" to tip noted in the Cruise Compass daily newsletter. On Thursday, we received vouchers and envelopes reminding us of how well we were treated. Our large group's gratuities were included in the fare, so I found this bid for more money particularly annoying. It would have been nice if we could have fooled ourselves into thinking that our good service was because the staff prided itself in doing a good job, but instead we were made very aware that it was simply for tips. These tip requests repeated themselves until we disembarked. With regard to the ship itself... The Navigator of the Seas is simply beautiful. The artwork on each floor landing (near the elevators and staircases) and throughout each venue is stunning. There are glass blown pieces, oils, and sculptures throughout the vessel. I would have been happy just to tour the ship and look at the art! The ship is well maintained and clean. I visited the ShipShape workout area and found that the treadmills and other machines were in good working order and if you scheduled your visit wisely, it was never so busy that you had to wait. I didn't visit the spa, but other guests on our tour said that the treatments were very expensive and would not recommend them. A short note regarding the ports we visited... Labadee, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Cozumel and Grand Cayman. My husband and I only left the ship at Labadee. I wasn't impressed (I was more depressed) by this stop and although our co-cruisers did visit many of the other ports, the consensus was that they were saddened, hounded, mistreated and generally unhappy with what they experienced. The poverty is overwhelming and the begging is incessant. One of our guest actually had to hand over her wristwatch when the $70 she had in her wallet "wouldn't cover" the cost of some trinket she accidentally broke while visiting a small shop in Cozumel. The vendor followed her all the way back to the ship badgering her for more money. That should not be a cruise memory for anyone. Disembarkation was easy. We were given color coded luggage tags on Friday evening. We needed to be out of our staterooms by 8am on Saturday so our luggage needed to be packed and left outside our doors by midnight Friday evening. Remember to leave disembarkation clothing out for the next day! On Saturday morning, after receiving our final bill and checking it for accuracy, we went down to one of 3 "holding" areas and waited for our tag color to be called. The entire process, including the wait was about 1 and a half hours. We then boarded a shuttle bus (taxis are also readily available) and headed to Miami airport to catch our flight back home. Overall, my ratings would be: Navigator of the Seas, 5 Staff, 3 Food, 4 Entertainment, 4 Ports, 1 Stateroom, 3 I guess my dream cruise (if I go again) would be fewer passengers, no ports and bright sunny skies... but then, I am a dreamer.

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Jan 8, 2005

Western Caribbean

This is without a doubt the most beautiful cruise ship I've been on. There is a ton of activities available and alot to see on this ship. The decor is not gaudy like you see on a lot of ships, it is very tasteful and elegant. With that being said, I did have a few areas that I felt could be improved. The elevators are extremely slow...take the stairs if you can. Food: I was disappointed with the quality of the food. At every meal my

party (5 including me) and I had trouble deciding what to have because...nothing sounded or looked to appealing. The taste of the food was like cafeteria type food (Think Ponderosa or Bonanza steak house). This is the second Royal Caribbean cruise I've taken. The first was a very old ship Song of America and Navigator, which is one of the newest ships, and the food on both was equally disappointing... For example...even though we were in the middle of the Caribbean, they used canned fruits to top their deserts, then a few days later would serve "Chilled Strawberry Bisque" which ended up being the drained juice that frozen strawberry come in... Service: The service on this ship was very disappointing compared to other ships I've been on. I've also traveled on Disney three times and Princess once. The staff performed their tasks efficiently for the most part, but were not very friendly, most of them past by without looking at you. Our waiter and asst. waiter in the dinning room were very quiet speaking to us only to take our order. On the first day of our trip we asked our cabin steward for a child sized life vest as there were only two adult sized vests in our cabin...we never got it even after repeatedly asking for it. The mirror in our room was always dirty and we had a difficult time finding towels for the pool. The cabin steward would take the dirty ones at night and not replace them, when we would ask for new ones the next morning he would tell us he would put them in our cabin for us and then never did...we had to go up on deck every day and sign out new ones (they charge you $20 per towel if you loose it). Which brings me to my next complaint... Charges: there are allot of hidden charges...soda is not available unless you are willing to pay $6 per day per person. The other cruised I have taken have at least offered sodas during meals in the dining room, but not this ship...they have fruit punch, lemonade or iced tea only. If you want to go to Johnny Rockets it will cost you $4.95 per person and then you still have to pay extra for soda (when we tried to have lunch, there was over an hour wait!) or malts, Ben & Jerry's ice cream costs $2.95 per person, and if you want to dine in one of the "reservation only" dining rooms "Portofino or Chops Grille" it will set you back $25 per person! And you guessed it, you still have to pay for soda! My last complaint is that the activities seem to be arranged at times that are not convenient...example...dining is at 6 & 8 pm and you need 2 hours to eat, they plan the shows at 5pm, 7pm or 9pm. They should be at 4 & 6pm for before dinner and 8:30 & 10:30 after dinner...we always seemed to be saying, well this doesn't start for another 45 minutes, or this started 20 minutes ago... We didn't get to see one movie, go ice skating or rock climbing wall because the times were so limited. On the good side, the mini golf is 24 hours and at least one pool and one hot tub is open 24 hours. Ok, one last complaint...my cabin was tiny....we had an inside cabin - no window. It was 158 sf and felt even smaller...we asked to have a chair and table removed just because we were tripping over it. Alright, enough complaining...this is what I really enjoyed about the cruise! As I said before, the ship itself is incredible! It has a mall down the middle of it! The drinks are very good! But they try to give you every one in a souvenir glass which you pay extra for so ask for a regular glass when you order your drink. When they come around with a plate full of drinks, they don't have rum in it unless you ask them to add it but it costs the same. They will also add more some times if you think you didn't get enough it there. We found the staff in the Windjammer cafe at dinner time to be more accommodating and attentive than the dinning room, so we spent the second half of our cruise eating dinner there. The Banana cream pie and Coconut cream pie is delicious and if you've never tried sushi, they have it at dinnertime at Jade. Ports of Call: This was my favorite part of the trip! The first stop was at Labadee, an exclusive area at the northern tip of Haiti owned by Royal Caribbean. This was a fun day. We had to take a tender from the ship to the shore, but this went fairly quickly. When you get to the beach there are men waiting to set up chairs for you but they expect a tip for this. There is a wonderful BBQ lunch and plenty of drinks available. They have rafts available for rent as well as wave runners, parasailing, etc. There are two separate beaches...the first one you come to will be the most crowded because it is the only one you can swim in, but if you are just sun bathing, venture to the second one where it is less crowded. There are two separate shopping buildings...The first has merchants outside and inside that are very aggressive! They each try to lure you in as you pass by with promises of the lowest price...they all have pretty much the same items in there space. DON'T PAY FULL PRICE! They expect you to barter and will usually come down 1/3 of the first price or more. The next shop is a little more sophisticated with a rum sampling bar and lots of souvenirs, this shop doesn't barter at all... We enjoyed this island so much that we stayed until the last tender. The next island was Ocho Rios in Jamaica. We found the locals to be very friendly and helpful. We opted to not do a shore excursion, but to head out on our own. We met a taxi driver named Denzel who charged us $11 to take us to Dunn River Falls which was so much fun! It does take some skill to climb the falls and you definately need aqua shoes (we bought used ones at the market in Labadee for $6) or they are available to rent at Dunn River Falls. We didn't sign up with a guide just jumped in a grabbed onto a group as it went by...it was great fun and a must see in Jamaica. There is a shopping area at Dunn River Falls where you can get some good bargains if you can stand bartering with the aggressive locals. We asked Denzel to come back for us in two hours, which he did. We wanted to go to the shopping area near Margaritaville, but he told us of another area that was better shopping called Soni's plaza. He charged us another $11 for the trip from Dunn River Falls to the shopping area which was indeed a great place to shop! You can barder in these shops too and the sales people aren't nearly as agressive but do follow you around, as they are commission based. In Grand Cayman we decided to take a shore excursion. Most of what we saw on the island was ravaged by Hurricane Ivan! We went to the Sting Ray City, which is not a city at all but a spot way out in the water where there is a reef. You climb aboard a boat that has an underwater observation deck. You get to watch as a diver jumps in and lures the sting rays over with food. It was really something to see. Keep in mind this vessel and the tender to it has no bathroom, its a good idea to go before you depart as you will be about an hour and a half before you get back. We then went on to the turtle farm and Tortugas rum cake factory. This was interesting, but I felt bad for all these turtles crammed together in a tank, waiting for "harvesting". The Factory has really good prices on Rum cakes if you like them...you can also sample them. After the shore excursion we shopped in the area across from the pier before taking the tender back to the ship. Cozumel Mexico had the best shopping of our trip. The shopping guide on the boat will give you a coupon for a free taxi ride into town to the Forum shops. From there you can make your way back to the pier shopping along the way. Without the coupon, the ride is $6 a car load. Make sure to go to "A touch of Gold" where you can make a 3 minute phone call for free to any where in the world. You can talk longer or make other calls at a cost of 50 cents a minute. It was the only place we found on this trip were we could call home (except the ship at a cost of $3 per minute). Our cell phone didn't work until we got back to Miami. While in Cozumel we also to a cab to The Blue Beach which cost about $7 a car load. This is a small beach with an admission of $5 per adult, but you get a $5 voucher to use inside for drinks...It was worth it. Hope you find this review helpful.

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Dec 4, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

My boyfriend and i was celebrating our 10 year anniversary, and thought we would do it in style. Believe me....we got more then we bargained for!!! We had never been on a cruise ship before and we did not really know what to expect. We were really hoping for a week of relaxation, fun, great food and good weather. We flew in from Norway 6 days before the cruise and stayed in Miami.. We took a shuttle from our hotel to the pier. As we

never had been on a cruise ship before we were in awe as to how big this ship was...incredible. We were set off in front of the terminal building, some RC staff took our bags and we made our way to the check in counter. We came to the pier about 12 o`clock and within about 1 hour we were on our way to the cabin. It did not seem long at all, because there were entertainment while we waited and the RC staff was very nice. We had a cabin with balcony on deck 6, almost at the back of the ship. This was amazing! Lots of space, a nice clean bathroom, a king size bed and most of all...it was quiet. Our bags came to our cabin within 2 hours. We stood on our balcony when we left Miami, we watched Miami fade away in the sunset as we moved further and further away. This looked good for the coming week. We went to explore our ship and found that this was more than a ship. It was almost like a small city. It had everything you could want and need on a vacation. We heard that you should buy a soda card that would last the whole week. But we didn`t, and we are glad we didn`t. With all the free drinks you can choose from at the buffet restaurants at breakfast, lunch and dinner( water, ice tea, various juices, coffee and tea) there was no way we could buy so much soda that it would cost as much as a soda card. The promenade was amazing, with a pub, cafe, shopping area. The space was like nothing else we have seen, it felt so big that we almost didn`t feel like we were on a ship. But at the same time the atmosphere was so intimate. It`s hard to put into words, it is something you have to experience for yourself. We took the whole tour of the ship the first night and was more and more amazed. Our first day at sea we spent exploring the ship. We ate a great breakfast in the windjammer buffet restaurant. The food was great, and it is really much to choose from. (There was alot of people, but we never had trouble finding somewhere to sit.) We spent some hours at the sundeck and we loved it. The sundeck was so big that during the week it never felt overcrowded, we never had a hard time finding some place to lie down. We were skeptical to going on a cruise, we had heard that only "old" people go on cruises. But we were amazed, there were lots of people our age (25 - 30 years). And there was so much to do on this ship that we didn`t get to do it all. There just wasn`t enough time. The entertainment was great. Food We think the food onboard was really great. We tried all the restaurants besides the ones you have to pay extra. The ice cream machines spread all over the ship are free and they tasted good. San Juan, Puerto Rico We think this island was ok, but nothing more. The old part of town was charming, some nice small stores and the old ruins on top of the hill was nice. A nice view of the pier from there. Only one thing, there was far to many cars in the streets. I don`t think we would go ashore if we go here again. We did not stay ashore very long. We went back to the ship, had something to eat and got in the Jacuzzi. We had 6 o`clock seating for dinner and this afternoon we wanted to try this. We got a table with 4 other people, so the next day we changed it so that we got a table just for the two of us. The staff was very helpful, just say you want a table for two and they will fix it for the rest of the trip. St. Thomas We had booked a snorkeling trip on a catamaran. We looked forward to this and we were not disappointed. The staff was very nice and they served rum on the way back. The weather was great, and we got to snorkel in some great waters. A very nice island! When we got back we went onboard the ship, took a shower and had some food before we went off again. We took the cable car up to the look out where we had a spectacular view of the bay and the three cruise ships there. The large shopping area near the pier we thought were a bit too crowded, but they had a lot of nice things to buy. The sun was really strong, so use high sun block.... When we got onboard again we really could feel that we had been in the sun the whole day. We had gotten a real sunburn. This was a problem because we had order a snorkel tour the next day too. But we went to talk to the RC people in the tour desk. They were so helpful and we got to switch to a guided bus tour instead. We got the overshooting money back and all with a smile. Really good service! St. Martin As i said we were going on a bus tour around the island. This was really nice and after this tour we still had time to go to the beach and really enjoy our day. Nassau, Bahamas We looked forward to this. We took a water taxi to Paradise island and walked the few minutes to the beautiful beach in front of the Atlantis hotel. We stayed here all day, and had a really nice day all in peace to our selves. The Navigator is an amazing ship, a really great experience! We hope the information here can help you decide on going on cruise. We loved it and we hope you will too!

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Dec 4, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

My husband and I took our first cruise last week. I am fairly organized and like to know what to expect. A few things cropped up during the cruise that I wish I had known about ahead of time. Despite this list, we had a wonderful time and are already dreaming of our next cruise. This is just an FYI for people who like to know what to expect. 1. Transfers—Our travel agent highly recommended paying $20 each for transfers from the airport

to the ship. We were told that someone would meet us at the baggage claim, help us with luggage, and transfer us to the pier. A good deal, we thought. In reality, we hauled our own luggage, had to hunt down the RC people, and it took 1 ½ hours from Miami airport to the pier. We were so stressed out by then. My friends took a cab, paid $21 and it took 20 minutes. Plus, they didn’t have to haul their luggage as far. We spoke with others on the ship who were happy with the transfers from the Ft. Lauderdale airport. On the other hand, the transfer back to the airport was stress free and we got what we paid for. Next time we will just take a cab. 2. Boarding—The wait in line to get on the ship wouldn’t have been so stressful if we didn’t have the ordeal with the transfers. But adding another 11/2 hour line made for a bad start to a great trip. 3. Life Jacket Drill—We didn’t know that there would be a life jacket drill before leaving the dock. We were caught unawares. During the drill you cannot use the elevator. We had just walked down 4 floors to get a coffee when we heard that we had to walk back up, get our life vests, and walk back down 5 floors. At this point, my husband and I were wondering if we had made a horrible expensive mistake. Not the way to start off a relaxing vacation. If we had known about this, we would’ve stayed in our room and waited. 4. Liquor—If you buy liquor onboard at the shops for consumption on the ship, there is a $9.50 usage fee. This doubled the price of our ‘cheap’ bottle of rum! 5. Cigarettes—They sell cigarettes onboard for low prices. (Buy 4 cartons get one free for $75) We don’t smoke, but my husband went for this deal because they sold the brand of a guy he works with. Because it was for sale on the ship, I assumed it was okay. Nope. The customs officer pulled us aside and informed us that only one carton per person was allowed and three cartons had to be destroyed. 6. Pop/soda—The price of soda tickets has risen to $42 per person. Not worth it unless you drink gallons of pop a week. There is plenty to drink on the ship, like iced tea, punch, water and coffee that is all included. 7. Photos—I didn’t mind it, but I had no clue that the ship had photographers who take your picture at dinner, before dinner, when you get off the ship, on formal nights, etc. This was a nice perk, but this was something no one had mentioned to us. 8. Dinners—Although I knew 2 nights were formal, I thought that the ‘casual nights’ meant shorts and such. I had only packed one pair of khakis for my husband and he had to wear them to dinner each night. I’ll know better next time. Casual dinners are not jeans and t-shirts. It is khakis, polo shirts, button downs, and blouses. Once we got past the first day, we relaxed and had a wonderful time. There was nothing to complain about and I will cruise with Royal Caribbean again. (Hopefully next year!)

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Nov 26, 2004

Western Caribbean

The Western Caribbean on the Navigator of the Seas 11/27/04 ~ 12/4/04- what a way to spend our 33rd wedding anniversary. I will only go over some of the highlights of a fantastic cruise. Embarkation Since our 4 Points of Sheraton Miami Beach checkout was at noon, we went directly to the ship. What a beautiful sight as your cab drives up. The process of check-in was done very quickly. A Royal Caribbean representative noticed that

my sister-in-law was wearing a walking cast and escorted us onto the ship by another entrance. It was really appreciated. I was so impressed by all of the RCCL employees and the high level of service. Some of Our Meet and Mingle group met early and it was fun. Captain Band and his wife were a pleasure to meet and my wife even won the RCCL mouse (which is now on my computer). The ship This was our first RCCL cruise and the first time on something as large as the Voyager class. The ship is an absolute marvel. I do not feel that you can truly see this beautiful ship in only a week. I can understand why people do repeat sails on her. The E1 balcony cabin was a pleasant surprise. Even with three adults in the room it never felt crowded. We had standard balcony rooms on the Coral Princess and it seemed like there was more room even with the small sofa and coffee table. I also liked the Navigator's shower much better. It had a rounded sliding door vs. the shower curtain (that seemed to have cling appeal, if you know what I mean). While this may sound like a trivial point, there is a difference in size of the table on the balcony. The Princess's table was about twice the diameter of the Navigator. It is fine for a single person, but not large enough to have breakfast for two. I realize that it allowed for more room on the balcony, we missed having breakfast in the morning air. The food The dining room food was excellent and very good in the Windjammer. The coffee is a brand called Seattle’s Best and is pretty strong for my taste. It took me a couple of days to find the right mix of cream and sugar (I normally drink it black). If you do not go to the main dinning you are missing a great experience. Our waiter (from Turkey) and assistant waiter (from Malaysia) were a joy. The highlight of the formal evenings were all of the serving staff singing in chorus. They deserved the standing ovations and provided such memories that you cannot help but smile. The nightly menu provided new experiences and opportunities to expand my tastes. Entertainment Ken Rush was the Cruise Director and proved to be a good host. The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers were outstanding. And do not miss the Ice show. You can see that a lot of effort was made to provide a high level of performance. Also of note was the musical performance by Las Vegas’ Glenn Smith on day 2. Great!! Disembarkation The wait for our color to be called seemed to be forever. Once it was called we were processed pretty quickly. It was surprising that American Airlines has a baggage processing right at the terminal but it sure did save time and effort. Summary The cruise was extremely comfortable and relaxing. The weather clear and clam, the ports of call were all exciting and offered new adventures (especially the Grand Caymans). We will definitely be sailing on the RCCL again. Ron

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Nov 9, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

We visited Nassau, St. Thomas, San Juan, and Labadee(Haiti). We had been to all of these ports before, with the exception of Labadee. All of the ports were fabulous with St. Thomas being the best for shopping and Labadee for beach/island fun. A word of caution on island excursions: the description does not always provide an accurate representation of the excursions content. The rainforest tour, for instance, in San Juan. The tour is long

with most of your time spent in an old school bus speeding through San Juan traffic. However, once in El Junque you will have a fabulous hour or so. Then you 'll take a teeth clinching ride back to port. I also do not reccommend the St. John Beach tour, not because it is not beautiful. The beach it's self is among the best in the world, however so much time and effort is put into making it there and back that you need the time at the beach just to recover from the trip. I would suggest the Meagan's Bay beach tour as an alternative. The ship, in a word, WOW! Just imagine a world class all inclusive resort where the secenery changes constantly. The staff and the service they provide was, with few exceptions, fabulous!! And the food was pleniful, well prepared, and elegantly presented. All the bars, and there are a lot of them, stock only "top shelf" brands. And the bar staff will go out of their way to please you. The shows are above average with some being spectacular. And as advice when the show is described as for adults only, believe them it is. The cruise director and his staff went out of thier way to bring everyone exactly what they paid for... the best vacation of their life. As a practical matter, I reccommend a Junior Suite as the best value. The room has enough size and ammenties to make you feel right at home(as in not on a ship). And if purchasing items on the ship your patience will save you money. We booked a return cruise on this same ship on our second day into the cruise... it was that good!!! We hope you have a great cruise too! And as they say "Get out there...."

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Nov 6, 2004

Western Caribbean

I have to say for a rookie on cruising The Navigator ship and staff really was accommodating and outstanding. It also helped that we went with our travel agent and some family who had cruised before. We were on a seven day cruise and every day was like I was dreaming. I can't find words to describe how huge and beautiful this ship is, and how helpful the staff. The young lady cleaning our room was fabulous. The windjammer is also very

spacious and beautiful. The variety and the taste of the food was excellent. The room and the ship was so clean and nice. The inside room we had was kind a small but very elegant. It didn't have a lot of space but just enough. The only thing I wish was different was my husband and I was so tired and exhausted from work we slept through a lot of the parties and late afternoon stuff that was going on. We have a cruise booked on MAJESTY OF THE SEAS to the BAHAMAS this coming December 2006 for 4 nights with the kids. We booked a hotel the day before departure this time so we can get some rest before we set sail. I don't want to miss anything. If this cruise is as great and accommodating as the last I will always Cruise with ROYAL CARIBBEAN!!!

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Oct 29, 2004

Western Caribbean

Hello, my name is Rob Follet, and i will be reviewing the Western Caribbean on the Navigator of the Seas. This 140,000 ton ship has a rock climbing wall, mini golf course, ice skating, roller skating, a 3 story mall, and much, much more. The Navigator took about 3 years to build, and is part of five ships in the Voyager class, the biggest ships in the world. It has about 5 million dollars worth of art, and will ensure that you won't get

bored while onboard. The Navigator also has polls and Jacuzzis for your enjoyment, and a Solarium for people over the age of 16. Our family booked an inside stateroom on deck 7, and it was very small but sufficient for how much time you spend in it. There is also a library on deck 7, as well as a game room on deck 14 and Business Services on deck 6. I would recommend a junior suite or ocean view stateroom for larger families. I think the food was the best part of the cruise because there are so many options to choose from so you won't go hungry. There is the Windjammer and Jade, which are casual dining, Portofino and Chopps Grill($25 per person, reservations required), the main dining room which is 3 stories, the Cafe Promenade, or room service which is free and is open 24 hours a day. The food and service is spectacular, and you will not be disappointed. My family did the Western Caribbean, which stopped in Labadee Haiti, Ocho Rios Jamaica, and Cozumel Mexico. The ship normally stops in Georgetown, Grand Cayman, but we couldn't stop due to hurricane damages. Labadee is RCI's private island, where they have wave runners or parasailing, or you can relax on a floating beach mat. In Jamaica you can go climb Dunn's River Falls, or go shopping in the main district. If you stop in Georgetown, you can go to Stingray City and pet stingrays, or got to seven mile beach. In Cozumel, you can snorkel with colorful fish. The entertainment is by far the best out of any cruise line, and they have singers and dancers, comedians, jugglers, and all kinds of parades and parties on the Royal Promenade. You don't want to miss out on all of the fun things the Navigator has to offer. I hope this review gave you an idea on how the Navigator is, and thank you for taking the time to read my review. Bon Voyage!

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Oct 8, 2004

Southern Caribbean

I want to start by saying that out of the 10 cruises I have been on the Navigator of the Seas is without a doubt the largest. From the moment you walk in you know you are definitely in a floating fantasy! This cruise was special since my family was on board celebrating my parents 50th wedding anniversary. Check in at the Port of Miami was confusing because after you received your boarding documents you had no idea where to go. Lines

were forming everywhere and there was no apparent organization. After we were actually in the correct line, the process moved smoothly. We had an immediate problem with our dining reservations. Royal Caribbean, despite my numerous requests, had put my parents at a different table in a different dining room. This was unacceptable since we were celebrating their 50th anniversary. I spent the first 1/2 hour on board waiting in line in the dining room to correct this problem. I must say that the problem was resolved and my entire family was able to sit together. I cannot say enough about the waiters in our dining room. They treated us like family. The service was outstanding and their personalities were spectacular! The food was very good and their selection on the children's menu was also terrific. Also, this was the first ship I have been on where I have actually seen the head waiter every night - not just on the night where they collect tip envelopes. The head waiter was terrific. He made it a point to visit with each and every dinner guest! The bars were great. We visited them all! We only had a bad experience twice with the bartenders being unfriendly. Hats off to bartenders Owens, Manny and AJ for putting up with my family. The provided entertainment too! The entertainment on the ship was terrific. From the ice skating shows to the comedy shows - all first class. We loved listening to the one man band at the Two Poets Lounge! Ports of Call - I have been to Nassau 10 times so we basically revisited the straw market. If you haven't been, it's nice, however intimidating! Water is beautiful and be prepared to be asked 200 times if you want your hair braided!! St. Thomas was beautiful. It was very hot and the tours were not in an air conditioned vehicle which made it hard for my elderly parents. The tour guide was very informative but the tour was so crowded my family was not able to sit together. In fact they put my husband in the front of the truck with the driver!! The island is absolutely beautiful and we all wished we had more time. The time in port was way too short!! The shopping was great - although time was an issue. Liquor was so cheap! We all stocked up. San Juan, Puerto Rico - This was nice and I would definitely recommend the Bacardi Rum Tour. This was great! Even the kids enjoyed this one. Puerto Rico is very congested. Between our tour and the traffic - there was no time for shopping which was real disappointing. Labadee, Haiti - this island was beautiful! The only problem I had was the straw market area. The natives were very aggressive and competitive. It made it really hard to actually shop around. The accommodations on the island were beautiful and the tenders taking you to and from the island were nice too. Back on board..... Johnny Rockets - Although nice - be prepared to pay $3.95 per person to get in. Go early - gets real crowded and remember that the $3.95 is for only food and not their famous milk shakes that will run you another $4.00! Another recommendation is get a soda/coke card. This will allow you or your children to purchase unlimited cokes while on board. The cost is $25 for kids and around $45 for adults but well worth it. Cokes can cost as much as $3.50 each! The Adventure Ocean Program - for those of you who have children - cruising is the answer to all your prayers!!! My children have been on 5 cruises and each one gets better and better. Our 16 year old son was able to make many new friends and the teen accommodations are out of this world. From the no adults allowed "living room" area to their own nightclub "Fuel" they can hang out and have a great time. There is a spectacular game room - however bring plenty of money cause the games are overpriced! Our 8 year old daughter had the time of her life. From ice skating lessons, rock wall climbing, in line skating, and putt putt golf, I cannot say enough about the counselors on board the Navigator. They are the most hardworking individuals I have ever encountered. They keep all these age groups wanting more. From the circus circus to the pirate night to the infamous talent show, our daughter wanted to be with them every waking moment. They even provide late night activities from 10 pm to 1 a.m at $5 per hour which gives the adults time to enjoy their vacation too. They even had their own children's area in Haiti! Pictures- be prepared! You will have to take out a bank loan if you plan on buying any photographs. These photos are outragously priced! A regular 8x10 is $20 which doesn't sound too bad until you find 4 that you like! There is no break. In fact my son won a coupon for any size photo during one of his bingo games. I went to purchase photos and told the cashier specifically I wanted to use it for an 8x10 photo and I did not check the receipt and after unpacking and looking at the "damage" I noticed he took off the smaller 4x5 photo at $4.95 so watch your receipts especially if you have bargain coupons! The only draw back I have with cruising is that too many activities start way too late. The boat doesn't get "rocking" until after 10:30 pm each night so if you are like me you have to get a nap in! Another tip is that if you are going for 7 days or longer - splurge and get the junior suite. It was the best thing we ever did. We have stayed in every type of room and this was our first suite and now it will be hard to go back. The balcony is terrific and you can watch as you dock at the different ports. Order room service and have coffee every morning watching the sun rise! They are very spacious with walk in closets and with 4 people you never felt cramped. The room attendants this time on board were not that friendly. I don't know if it was a language issue or not, but I never saw our attendant until the 3rd night. As usual, the selection of different towel animals amuse us adults and children!! Getting off the ship - since we had an early flight and my elderly parents drove, we arranged with Royal Caribbean to have my parents get off the ship with us so we could gather their luggage and get them safely to their car. Royal Caribbean was very helpful in this. It took a lot off my mind and I thank them for that! Claiming luggage was a breeze since the new system of having different areas with different color luggage tags. Gone are the days of the large piles of luggage with the different color tags. Customs was also very streamlined and we were off the boat by 7:30 a.m. All and all this was a fantastic cruise. I think, however that this ship is a little too big for me! It was also hard for my parents to get around since so many things are happening in so many different areas. I have been on different cruise lines and honestly don't have a favorite. I would definitely recommend this cruise to others but just keep in mind that you are really not in any port of call for any length of time and you should consider this when booking. If anyone has any specific questions I would be more that glad to answer them. Feel free to contact me and happy sailing!!

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Oct 1, 2004

Western Caribbean

Tom Ogg CruiseReviews at aol.com The setup: I was the seminar leader and group escort for a group of 37 travel professionals on a Western Caribbean sailing of the Navigator of the Seas. I had been at a conference in Hong Kong the week prior to the sailing and had decided to fly from Hong Kong to Miami to meet the cruise. Since I was speaking at the conference on the day prior to the cruise, I had booked myself on Korean Airlines

from Hong Kong to Miami with stops and layovers in Seoul, Korea, Tokyo, Japan, Los Angeles, California and Atlanta, Georgia. The entire trip took almost 48 hours and I must admit to being quite exhausted, especially with the 12-time zone difference. I was never so glad, as when I checked into Miami’s Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel. I slept like a baby for almost 12 hours. The Navigator of the Seas Group After enjoying the excellent continental breakfast (included in the room price) I negotiated to have a taxi transfer me to the port. After grabbing my luggage and checking out, I was on my way to the Port of Miami and Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas. Check in was not as smooth as I have normally experienced with Royal Caribbean, but I later found out there were numerous international groups boarding the ship and the new federal immigration laws were playing havoc with the process. Not only did Royal Caribbean have an exceptional amount of international passengers, but they also had new and stringent policies they had to follow to comply with the new law. While U.S. citizens were not really affected, some alien passengers took well over two hours to process. Summary in Advance This review is more of a pictorial of the Navigator of the Seas than a thorough review of the ship. I did it this way so you can see the diversity of activities the ship offers and get a feel for the ship itself. You could actually sail on the Navigator of the Seas and never get off the ship and have the best cruise of your life. The Navigator of the Seas (and the other Voyager class vessels) truly have no competition and are unique onto themselves. They are destination enough to warrant taking the cruise. Any ports that you might visit are just an added bonus to the experience. If you are comparison-shopping for a cruise, here is how to tell if you should pick this ship. The Navigator of the Seas is, without question, the best choice if you fit any of the following profiles. Families or Family Reunions: Do yourself a favor and don’t even think about another ship. There is such a diverse amount of activities and entertainment on the Navigator of the Seas, that there is lots to do for everyone. I saw families bonding everywhere. I only regret that the Voyager class ships didn’t exist when our son was younger. I just don't think there could be a better choice for family reunions. Honeymooners: There were 50 some honeymoon couples on this cruise and they were all ecstatic. Royal Caribbean has many amenities for honeymooners that make this an excellent choice. The ship is large and diverse enough to satisfy anyone’s tastes, but it also offers a level of privacy that honeymooners sometimes do not get on smaller ships. Business Meetings: For the same reason this is the best choice for family reunions, it would be the best choice for meetings. There are so many team-building opportunities on the Navigator that it is almost unbelievable. The Conference Center is state of the art (as good as you would find in any hotel) and the idea that many of the usually variable costs are controlled, makes the Navigator of the Seas an incredible meeting venue. Groups and Friends Traveling Together: If you belong to a group of some sort or travel with other couples, the Navigator of the Seas offers enough diverse opportunities for activities and entertainment, that everyone will be pleased. Having the group come together for meetings and meals, shore excursions and cocktail parties while pursuing individual tastes, makes for a happy cruise. About the only folks I wouldn’t recommend the Navigator of the Seas as the best choice would be those that prefer smaller, more intimate ships and singles traveling by themselves. Because of the number of passengers, number of entertainment venues and overall size of the ship, it would much more difficult to make a connection with other singles. However, Royal Caribbean does an excellent job of offering single's events, so it just might be my observation rather than a matter of fact. One thing is guaranteed. You will be in awe of this ship and remember your cruise for a good long time. The Ship The Navigator of the Seas is one of five of Royal Caribbean’s Voyager class ships. At 142,000 gross tons, she is massive. She is also well evolved, as every detail in her construction and décor is simply beautiful. The attention to detail (in the flooring, walls, ceilings, wall coverings and art work) is simply awe-inspiring. Everywhere you look you are treated to visually stimulating design. For this reason I have included a good number of pictures so you can begin the visual experience with this review before you get on the ship. Cabin 8335: I was located in cabin 8335 located on deck 8. I was in an inside cabin, but found it ideal for sleeping (something I did a lot of during the first couple of days). I had a very comfortable queen sized bed with excellent bedding. There were two nightstands with individual reading lights that were quite effective. There was a large sitting area and coffee table. Across from the sitting area was a large desk area with 2 110v outlets (American) and 1 110v outlet (European). This proved to be an excellent feature. The Navigator offered unlimited “in cabin” Internet access for only $100 for the entire cruise. Of course, I immediately took advantage of the offer and the good news was that the telephone used to gain access came equipped with European sockets that worked perfectly. There is a television with a substantial amount of programming, a safe and ample storage for clothing items and miscellaneous items. A closet lines the cabin entrance way and offers a good amount of storage for hanging clothes, as well as shoe and miscellaneous storage in the shelves on the right hand side. The bathroom was well-designed and offered ample storage for toiletries and other items. The shower offered excellent temperature and water flow controls and I very much liked the sliding door that allowed you to completely enclose yourself while showering. There was no shower curtain interfering with your shower. I don’t understand why every cruise line doesn’t adopt this feature, as it makes showering so much more enjoyable. Exploring the Navigator of the Seas The best way to explore the Navigator is to start at the very top and work our way to the bottom, so that is how I will conduct the visual tour. So, if you will join me for a ride up the aft elevator to deck 14 and then walk up the stairwell to deck 15, this is where we will begin. The Intimate Skylight Chapel Deck 15 Up the stairway from the Viking Crown Lounge one finds the intimate Skylight Chapel. It gets its name from the stained glass skylight that resides over the pulpit. This is a gorgeous chapel and would be a great place for a small wedding. The Viking Crown Lounge Deck 14 The main lounge here is Royal Caribbean's signature Viking Crown Lounge and it offers music, dancing and a good number of places to hang out and enjoy a cocktail. We met here one night for a computer session and it was not at all crowded and proved to be an excellent place for an impromptu meeting that could easily accommodate all of us. The Diamond Member's meeting also took plaaace here and I believe that everyone was impressed with the event, as it was enhanced by the Viking Crown Lounge location. The 19th Hole To the rear on the starboard side behind the Viking Crown Lounge lies another wonderful bar, the 19th Hole. The Seven Hearts Card Room On the port side of the Viking Crown Lounge is the Seven Hearts card room. I never saw it busy at all. The Cloud Nine piano bar is aft of the card room and the Cosmopolitan Club (a cigar bar) is on the starboard side of the ship. The Navigator Dunes Miniature Golf Course Deck 13 When I hear someone say ”I don’t know, I think I might get bored on a cruise” I think of deck 13, as to why everyone would love this deck. First let’s go all the way aft to the golf course. The Navigator offers a wonderful miniature golf course (The Navigator Dunes). You can simply grab a putter and a golf ball and play all you want. It is expansive and a downright fun course. The Navigator's Inline Skating Track On the port side of the gold course is the inline skating track where one can race around the Le Mans type track, as much as they would like. Directly in front of the miniature golf course is the golf simulator. While I didn’t get a chance to use it, those that did really enjoyed it. The Basket Ball Court and Royal Caribbean's Signature Rock Wall Standing in front of the golf simulator you can hear the cheers from those climbing the rock wall that towers above you, but also the cheers from those playing basketball on the full basketball court (it is heavily used). The Navigator of the Sea's Basketball Court Surrounding the area is a number of ping pong tables. I noticed a good number of families that were using them and having the time of their lives. This entire area of the ship is dedicated to sports and activities that you normally would not find on any other ship. Moving down the aft stairwell to deck 12, we enter the first deck that traverses the entire ship. Deck 12 Johnny Rockets Main Entrance Johnny Rockets is a favorite with the teens and offers a full selection of burgers, fries, onion rings and malts. It has implemented a $3.95 cover charge per person for dining at Johnny Rockets. Johnny Rockets Interior, Look Familiar? There are both typical indoor and outdoor dining options. The entire structure on the aft section of the ship contains the various kid’s clubs. Adventure Ocean Kid's Club The Adventure Ocean kid's club is made up of several rooms specifically designed for various age groups. Each of the five age groups enjoy clubs that are planned and staffed for the kid's enjoyment. Adventure Ocean's Video Zone This video arcade had a ton of video games. The Teen Disco This is a really cool disco that teens can relate to. It is only used by certain age groups at a time, so you don't have to worry about your young teen hanging around with older teens. The Aft Deck of Adventure Ocean Altogether, there is over 22,000 square feet dedicated to the Adventure Ocean Youth Program. The Navigator's Walking and/or Jogging Track Between the aft building and the forward building on deck 12 is a large area for sunbathing and a jogging/walking track that is heavily used. The Sky Bar The Sky Bar resides in the center of the jogging track and is a great place for a refreshment out of doors. Looking over the pool area, it is also a great place to watch the pool games and other pool-side activities. The Entrance to the ShipShape Spa The Navigator's “ShipShape Day Spa” resides in the forward section offering a full beauty salon and spa services. Deck 11 Deck 11 is the first ship-length deck on the Navigator and is also full of leisure opportunities. If we move down to deck 11 from deck 12 and go all the way forward, we are on top of the bridge and there is a very outstanding area where you can watch what is going on in the bridge area. Known as “Bridge Overlook”, it is well worth a visit if you are interested in the operations of the ship. The Stairway Leading to the Fitness Center (From the ShipShape Spa, deck 12) By taking the stairwell down from deck 12 in the ShipShapre Spa, we can access the fitness center. ShipShape Fitness Center The ship’s “Ship Shape Fitness Center” resides on deck 11 and offers an excellent collection of free weights and Cyber machines. Navigator of the Seas Cardiovascular Machines There is also an excellent collection of cardio machines with excellent views of the ocean. The Aerobics Room of the ShipShape Fitness Center The Navigator of the Seas had a very good aerobics program and the classes were heavily attended. The ShipShape Fitness Center Don't miss the large Jacuzzi at the entrance to the Fitness Center if you want a little peace and quiet. Solarium Pool Heading aft, one enters the Solarium. This is truly an excellent area, as the pool was open to the sunlight the entire trip while the surrounding lounge chairs were covered and offered protection from the sun. There are two large (I mean LARGE) Jacuzzis in the Solarium area and an active bar as well. The Navigator of the Sea's Pool Area The pool area just doesn’t seem large enough for a ship this size, yet it was never so crowded that I couldn’t find a lounge chair. The Navigator has an interesting towel policy, as you are issued two beach/pool towels in your cabin at the beginning of the cruise, but are charged $20 if you lose one. While I am sure the ship is trying to control costs from laundering and replacing towels, the result is that very few folks leave them on deck chairs when they depart. For this reason, it always seemed easy to locate an available lounge. Another View of the Pool Area and Pool Stage (Taken From the Sky Bar) There are 4 Jacuzzis (2 are huge) that are heavily used by everyone. Aft of the pool area is one of the main dining venues on the Navigator of the Seas. One enters the area through the main entrance to the Windjammer Cafe, but will shortly be presented with the entrance to the two alternative restaurants on board the Navigator. Portofino Restaurant Upon entering the Windjammer Café, you will see the Portofino Restaurant entrance on the port side and the entrance to Chops Grille on the starboard side. Chops Grille Both of these dining venues are specialty restaurants that require reservations and an extra gratuity. I did not get an opportunity to dine at Portofino restaurant, but a group of us dined at Chops and loved the experience. Jade Moving aft we enter the area of the Windjammer buffet known as “Jade”. I loved this spot and ate here more than anywhere else. It features Asian dishes for breakfast and lunch and was popular with the Asian community of the Navigator and those that love Asian food. However, there was never any sushi. If you like Asian food, you will love Jade. Many people made the mistake of thinking that Jade was the main buffet as I was the first to be presented to folks arriving for a meal. The Windjammer Cafe Aft of Jade is Royal Caribbean’s signature buffet, the Windjammer Café. This is the main buffet area of the Navigator. The Windjammer is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers numerous selections. It is a major buffet with lots of different areas so you will want to explore it before settling into a line to start picking your dishes for your meal. The salad bar is good and there is always healthy choices offered at each meal. In the aft section of the Windjammer buffet is an omelet station that then becomes a pasta station for lunch. All the way aft, is a fresh waffle station that also offers unique selections. The Plaza Bar serves the entire area and there are always waiters on hand if you want a cocktail or glass of wine. The Windjammer Cafe Set Up for Dinner Dinner brings a more formal environment for the Windjammer Cafe and many people chose to dine here rather than the main restaurants. Deck 10 Deck 10 is entirely made up of passenger cabins. Deck 9 With the exception of the Concierge Club, deck 9 is made up of passenger cabins. The Concierge Club actually wears two different hats. The Concierge Club By day, it is where folks staying in suites at the Concierge level can make reservations for various things and use the concierge to help make their cruise more enjoyable. In the morning and the evening, it turns into a lounge where breakfast or cocktails and other beverages, along with hot appetizers are served to those in the concierge level suites, as well as Diamond loyalty members. Concierge Francois Roux The Concierge on the Navigator, Mr. Francois Roux was one of the best Concierges that I have ever seen. There was a passenger on the ship that took great pleasure in trying to irritate Francois and would take hours of his time each day requesting information, asking questions, making complaints and generally being a nuisance. Francois never so much as gave it a second thought and maintained his professionalism at all times. I was greatly impressed. If it had been me, I would have told the passenger off for being such a pain. Royal Caribbean On-Line Deck 8 With the exception of “Royal Caribbean Online”, the Navigator of the Sea’s Internet Café, the balance of deck 8 is made up of passenger cabins. The Internet Café itself is slow and cumbersome, but The Navigator of the Seas offers “in cabin” Internet access for a flat fee. I paid $100 for the cruise and was able to go on-line 24 hours a day with unlimited access. It is truly a great deal and a reason to select the Voyager class ships of Royal Caribbean if you are a heavy user. However, they only have a limited number of sets of equipment to make it happen. If you want to get access, visit the Guest Relations Desk as soon as you board to sign up for the service. While access is still slow, it doesn’t matter because you enjoy unlimited access for one low rate. The Navigator of the Seas Library Deck 7 With the exception of the library, deck 7 is made up of all passenger cabins. The library offers a good selection of books, but is smaller than one would expect on a ship of this size. Deck 6 The Loyalty Ambassador's Office Once again, deck 6 features primarily passenger cabins. However, here is where you will find the Loyalty Ambassador and the ability to sign up for Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society. I would highly recommend that you do sign up, as the benefits are excellent. The Navigator of the Sea’s Business Service Center is located adjacent to the Loyalty Ambassador’s office as well. The Royal Promenade Deck 5 Oh boy! This is the deck that you will remember from this cruise (well, I am sure you will remember everything about this cruise). When you first see the Royal Promenade, it is simply breathtaking. It is difficult to believe that you are on a ship. Three Stories of Wonderful Restaurants Starting with the Swan Lake Dining Room at the very aft end of the ship. You realize that this is something special. The three-story dining room complex carries a different name for each restaurant on every deck to make it easier for folks to remember where their restaurant is. The dining room is simply beautiful and while large, because of the way it is partitioned into small areas, is quite intimate. Moving forward past the elevator banks, you enter the main part of the Royal Promenade. On your left is the popular Champagne Bar. This was one of my favorites, as they also have an excellent wine list to go with the Champagne that they serve. The bar is broken into small and intimate areas for casual conversation. Guest Relations and the Tour Desk On the right and in front of the Champagne Bar, is the Centrum and on the starboard side you will find Guest Relations and the Tour Desk. The General Store Moving forward, you pass the General Store on your starboard side and the Tommy Hilfiger logo store on your port side. The Navigator of the Seas Logo Shop Next to the General Store is the Royal Caribbean Logo Souvenir Shop where you can find everything imaginable with Royal Caribbean logos on it. The Entrance to Vintages Wine Bar Vintages Wine bar is directly across from the Logo Shop and I loved this particular venue. It is set up with a wonderful bar and several areas to sit in and relax. Vintages Wine Bar They have an excellent wine list and always have several chilled bottles available to try by the glass. If you like to drink wine, don’t miss this little jewel. Look for the blue sports car. Two Poets Pub A tad forward and on the port side is another lounge venue, the Two Poets Pub. This pub-like atmosphere serves ales, beers and a full mixed drink venue and normally has a guitarist/singer playing in the evening to add some entertainment. While I didn’t use this particular lounge, it always was packed with people. The Cafe Promenade On the Starboard side of the Navigator forward yet (under the bridge), is the Café Promenade. This is a great spot. There is coffee and tea set up all day and a bakery serving freshly baked coffee cakes, and such in the morning, and then the offerings turn to fresh cookies during the day. Several other dessert treats are offered during the evening. The Promenade Cafe Bakery There is no charge for the bakery goods. Fresh sandwiches are made right next to the bakery and are available all day long. The adjoining bar features specialty coffee drinks, as well as a full assortment of cocktails, beer and wine. A Ben and Jerry’s ice cream outlet is right next to the Café Promenade. The Perfume and Cosmetics Shop on the Navigator of the Seas The port side of the ship offers more shopping opportunities with the perfume shop and fashion boutique. The Beautiful Entrance to the Ixtapa Lounge Leaving the Royal Promenade, you enter the Ixtapa Lounge. This is one of the main entertainment venues and is always active. The Ixtapa Lounge The Crown and Anchor Club met here for the members that have sailed on Royal Caribbean before. The Connoisseur Cigar Club resides just outside of the entrance to the Ixtapa Lounge and has that “club” feeling for those that want to enjoy a glass of brandy and their favorite cigar. The Metropolis Theater Deck 4 Heading down the forward stairwell we arrive at the upper entrance to the Metropolis Theater. This is the main showroom on the Navigator and it is beautiful indeed. You can enter the theater from three different decks, but I found this was the best way to enter the showroom. Just aft of the Metropolis Theater is the Schooner Bar. The Schooner Bar The Schooner Bar is the signature bar for the Royal Caribbean fleet and this particular one is superb. We met here on a number of evenings and had a great time. There is always a pianist/singer here entertaining everyone and the mood is fun and jovial with sing-a-longs after dinner. Dungeon's Entrance from Deck 4 On the port side, one sees a weird doorway entitled “Dungeon’s”. I didn’t explore it until later in the cruise, but you should walk into it the second you see it, as it leads you into the ship’s 2-story disco area, which is surreal. The Casino Royale Entrance Moving aft, we enter the Casino Royale. This is a major casino that offers much gaming opportunities and I heard a number of people say that the slots were somewhat loose. The entry way is wonderful, as you walk across plate glass enclosing many treasures. The Casino Slots There are a ton of slot machines and other games that were always quite busy. Many folks actually walked off the ship with a positive cash flow from gambling. The tables were also quite busy every time I walked through the casino. The Centrum Until you see the Centrum in person, you simply cannot believe how beautiful it is. No matter how I tried to capture it on my digital camera, it just came up short. You are going to have to cruise on the Navigator to get the real feel of it. Boleros If you like Latin music, song and refreshments, then you will love Boleros. This restaurant and lounge is lots of fun and filled with salsa atmosphere. Aft of Boleros is the second level of the dinning room, the Coppelia Dining Room. Deck 3 The lower level of the restaurant, the Nutcracker Dining Room resides on deck 3 aft. The Photo Gallery In order to get to the other parts of deck three, one must move up to deck 4 and move forward to the Centrum and then descend back down to deck 3 where they will find the Photo Gallery. You can imagine, with 3,500 people on board, how many photographs must be taken on each cruise. Finding them requires some time and energy, but they have them organized in a way that makes their presentation logical. Studio B Ice Arena The entrance to Studio B resides just forward of the Photo Gallery and what an impressive feature on a ship. While I didn’t attend any of the ice shows that were put on during the cruise (which I heard were excellent) I did sneak in one afternoon to watch folks skating their hearts out. It looked like so much fun! To think of an ice skating arena on a ship is over the top. The Dungeon In order to move forward on the ship, you will need to go up to deck 4 and go forward to the forward Centrum and then descend back down to deck 3. If your destination is the ship’s disco, the Dungeon, you can enter it on the upper floor through the tunneled entrance. Once back down to deck 3, you will see the main entrance to the Dungeon. This is a really excellent disco. There is a great sound system, plenty of seats and great service. Forward, you will find the forward entrance to the Metropolis Theater. Deck 2 Deck 2 is primarily all passenger cabins with the exception of the lowest floor of the Metropolis Theater all the way forward and the Conference Center directly aft of the Metropolis Theater. Entrance to the Conference Center The Conference Center is awesome. It has several break-out rooms (I counted 5) that are excellent for groups of 3 to 40. One of the Conference Center's Break-Out Rooms They also can be combined into two large rooms that could house a very good sized meeting. The Conference Center's Screening Room They offer all of the techno stuff one could possibly want for presentations and they are set up for professional level meetings. The Boardroom The Boardroom is on the starboard side and seats about 16 people comfortably for more formal meetings and negotiations. All in all, if you are looking for a ship to have a meeting on, this is the one! The Cruise Saturday, October 2nd, 2004; Miami, Florida I was checked in and in my cabin by 12:30. I immediately went to customer relations and confirmed the group's arrangements, and also signed op for in-cabin Internet access. The is a great deal on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager and Radiance class ships. For only $100 for the entire cruise, you can gain unlimited Internet access from your cabin. You will need your notebook computer equipped with a modem, but once you have it set up, you can go online whenever you want and stay online for as long as you wish. If you are a serious Internet user and access is important, this is a key feature of these ships. Having had a late breakfast, I skipped lunch, and once I had delivered the group flyers, took a nap until the ship’s boat drill that took place at 4:30 pm. The drill was actually quite painless, which was appreciated by everyone. Because of the stiffer immigration laws, the departure was delayed until 6 pm. Once again, I returned to my cabin and took a brief nap until about 7 pm when I dressed for the group’s arrival cocktail party that was held in the Dungeon Disco. It is always fun when I first meet the groups, as the first impressions tend to set the stage or the cruise experience. I was really looking forward to the cruise after meeting the folks in this particular group. After a 90-minute cocktail reception we made our way into our first dinner. I love the main restaurants on the Voyager class ships. There are three separate restaurant levels, with each level having its own name. We were located in the Coppelia Restaurant on deck 4. Our Assistant Maitre d’ was extremely attentive, as was our waitress and assistant waiter. Everyone had a great first night's dining experience and was looking forward to the cruise. I went to bed right after dinner and slept the entire night. Sunday, October 3rd, 2004; Day at Sea My coffee came right on the dot at 7:30 am and I was in the shower and then dressed making my way to the conference center for the first of our two seminars on the cruise. People started arriving at 8:30 am and by 9:00 am, everyone was ready to start. The seminar went quite well, and the three hours flew by. The group turned out to be just as nice as my first impression suggested that they would be. After a quick lunch, I decided to take a nap to try to catch up on the time zone difference and lack of sleep I experienced while traveling from Hong Kong. I awoke in time to get ready for the first formal night of the cruise and visited the Concierge Lounge for a glass of wine. Being a Diamond member with Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor Society has numerous benefits, and the Concierge Lounge is one of the best in my opinion. The Lounge offers an open bar from 5 pm until 8:30 pm and is a wonderful place to meet other Diamond members for a pre-dinner cocktail. There are always hot and cold appetizers to enjoy and the ambiance is sophisticated. It is truly a major benefit. The Concierge on duty, Mr. Francois Roux, is a delightful gentleman who will help you with the various details of your cruise, and gladly take care of ice show tickets, alternative restaurant reservations and other assistance that you might need. While I never visited the lounge for breakfast, it is also open in the morning offering a continental breakfast. I met a good number of the group members at the Captain’s Welcome Aboard cocktail party and enjoyed a wonderful dinner in the main restaurant following the party. Having just come from the Norwegian Star and Freestyle dining in Alaska, I realized how much fun it is to have the same waiter and assistant waiter every night. We were blessed with an excellent team that became part of our family by the end of the cruise. After dinner, you guessed it, I went straight to bed convinced that I had narcolepsy. Monday, October 4th, 2004; Labadee, Haiti A group of us were to meet in the Solarium and take the 10:00 am tender to Labadee, but somehow got derailed, so a small group of us made our way over to explore Labadee’s beaches and shopping. It was a great beach day with lots of sunshine, food, drink and activities. It had been a couple of years since my last visit to Labadee and I was struck with how much development had taken place. Additional beaches had been cleared and developed, a marina added, a water park, and hundreds of dining tables and other infrastructure had been added. The marketplace has grown to include many outside stalls and a substantial arts and crafts building. Unless you just do not like the beach, you will find Labadee a wonderful way to spend the day. We liked Labadee so much, that we ended up on the last tender. That is when I realized that I had lost my eyeglasses. Unfortunately, I possess extremely poor eyesight and am dependent on my glasses for acceptable sight. Even then, my eyes are not correctable to anything resembling 20/20 sight. Back on board the ship, the other shoe dropped when I realized that I had left my contact lenses at home. I use contact lenses for surfing and I had taken the pair out of my travel bag for a surf session on the way home from being picked up from the airport on my last trip. I was destined to either walk around blind, or wear my prescription sunglasses and look rather odd at night. I opted to go with no glasses. Since this evening was the repeater’s party, I met the Diamond members in our group at the Concierge Lounge and then attended the repeater’s party. It was a great party and everyone liked the Captain’s wit and humor. A group of 12 of us had decided to try the Chops Grille specialty restaurant, so I had made reservations for this evening. We were treated to excellent service and thoroughly enjoyed the restaurant. Chops Grille has a $25 service fee, and it is well worth it. Even though Chops is a steakhouse, I ordered salmon. My advice would be to order the filets and other steaks, as the salmon was just OK. I managed to stay awake for a quick nightcap with some in our group, before turning in for the evening. Tuesday, October 5th, 2004; Ocho Rios, Jamaica We arrived in Ocho Rios right on schedule. A small group of us chose to do some shopping, hit Margarittaville and then sample some lobster at a local spot I learned about from one of the agents on my last visit to Ocho Rios. We headed directly to the Ocho Rios flea market where one of the agents negotiated a purchase of a tree trunk that had been carved into 9 life-sized parrots clinging onto what appears to be a tree. While it was interesting, it weighed about 200 pounds. Since I was involved in the negotiation, I offered to carry the tree trunk back to the ship. By the time I made it, I was ringing wet. After a quick change of clothes, we made our way to Margaritaville to enjoy a refreshment and some entertainment. It rained quite heavily and when it finally cleared, we went down to the beach in front of Margaritaville and then turned left to the creek that empties into the ocean next to Margarittaville and followed it up to the footbridge. We crossed the creek on the footbridge and entered the local fish camp. There is a fish market for the local folks here and a couple of open air restaurants that serve primarily local folks. I recognized the one that I had been told about and went to see if I could negotiate for a lobster lunch. Dave, the guy running the restaurant, was quite a character. We settled on a nice large lobster and he opened the foil exposing an absolutely beautiful lobster treat. We enjoyed it so much that Dave gave us a smaller lobster, which we immediately devoured. After finishing the lobster and looking around a bit, I decided to take Dave’s picture for PortReviews.com. I gave him one of my cards and told him to look at the site in about 4 weeks. So here is my recommendation. If you want great “caught today” lobster at a reasonable price in a totally local Jamaican environment, go see Lobster Dave (my name for him, not his). He is a great guy and deserves your business. I guarantee you that you will remember it for a long time and go back every time you visit Ocho Rios. However, here is my disclaimer. If you are the nervous type that doesn’t like to adventure into unfamiliar settings, you might feel uneasy penetrating the fish camp. As the Jamaican saying goes “Don’t Worry, Mon,” everything is going to be OK. Back on board the Navigator of the Seas, I spent some time n the Jacuzzi and then dressed for dinner, met my Diamond member buddies in the Concierge Lounge and then made our way to dinner. After we had enjoyed our appetizer at dinner, one of the group members presented me with a cane that they had had made in Ocho Rios. It was painted white with a red tip and had a bicycle toot horn attached to it so the user could let people know that they were coming. Everyone howled and I have to admit, I found it quite funny myself. Well, that started the tooting in our group’s section. Our waiter used it to get everyone’s attention, the Maitre d’ sat on it making toot-toot sounds. By the time the evening was over, everyone had laughed so hard they were crying. I had taken a liking to one of the group members and decided to join them in the casino bar while his wife played the slot machines. It is funny how cruises seem to bond people together into fast friendships. Wednesday, October 6th, 2004; Day at Sea The itinerary called for a port call at Grand Cayman Island, but the effects of the hurricane season rendered Grand Cayman almost destroyed, so all port calls had been cancelled for the foreseeable future. I enjoyed the day at sea spending time in the sun and also visiting the Solarium’s pool and Jacuzzis. A group of us spent the day chatting about business and getting to know one another even better. By now I had fallen into my evening’s routine of cocktails with the other Diamond members in the Concierge Lounge, meeting others from the group for a pre-dinner cocktail and then dinner at our group of tables. By now, our group had come together and the waiter, assistant waiter and Maitre d’ were all having as much fun with us, as we were with them. Thursday, October 7th, 2004; Cozumel, Mexico We arrived in Cozumel right on time at the International pier. It was an unusual visit, as there was only one other ship in the entire port; the island felt empty. A small group of us had decided to check out the new Paradise Beach Club that was the focus of one of the on-line discussion groups that I visit every now and then. After reading the comments about it, I was sure this was going to be an excellent new “find” and I wanted to write a “feature review” on Paradise Beach for www.PortReviews.com. As luck would have it, after meeting in the solarium and debarking the ship, a young lady who claimed to be the bartendress at the Paradise Beach Club, handed us a flyer about the club. While I had suspected that much of the chat on the bulletin board discussing Paradise Beach Club was staged, at best, I found the aggressive sales tactic inconsistent with something rising from word-of-mouth chat room discussion. We negotiated a taxi and started our adventure to the Paradise Beach Club looking forward to a great beach with free use of everything and reasonably priced food and drink. I was especially curious as to its location, as I know Cozumel very well and couldn’t envision where it was located. I suspected that there was a heretofore undeveloped cove along the coastline that had been opened up by the club. When we finally reached Paradise Beach Club, I was shocked to find it was directly adjacent to Playa San Francisco. In fact, the Paradise Beach Club resides on what used to be the southern portion of Playa San Francisco. As we entered the main building, employees of Paradise Beach Club confronted us to purchase wristbands that would enable us to use the facilities. At $5 each, we decided to only check out the beach club, have a beer, take a swim and then move on. When we declined the purchase of wristbands, you could see the animosity on their faces. We moved onto the beach in front of the little dolphin carvings that used to mark Playa San Francisco’s beach and set up on a couple of beach chairs. We were immediately asked to purchase drinks from the not-so-nice, but insistent waiter. We asked for the drink menu and found the drinks to be quite expensive. Just out of spite, I walked over to Playa San Francisco and purchased 5 "Sol" beers for our group and brought them back to the Paradise Beach Club. We swam for a few minutes and then got out to dry. We looked at the food menu, but decided to move on as the food was just as expensive as the drinks, and I suspect would be as disappointing. I photographed the club in its entirety, so if you are interested you can see pictures of it by visiting here. We packed up our things and decided to move on. The Paradise Beach Club feature review that I was going to write became simply a mention in the “Cozumel’s West Coast Beach Review” special report with the suggestion that you do the same; move on. Since some in our group had not visited the rest of the beaches on Cozumel, we decided to hit the best, just to compare them to the Paradise Beach Club. Our first stop was Nachi Cocum. Look, if you are looking for a beach club that is truly wonderful, this is the one. It is just a little further out than the rest, but the taxi ride costs the same. You will find the club everything you are looking for. We stopped at Playa Palancar, as one of the agents with us was a diver. Here is another excellent beach and if you are interested in diving on of the world’s best reefs, this is the place. You can also snorkel Palancar Reef from this beach (a boat ride is necessary). We had a snack and libation at Coconuts Restaurant on the eastern shore and were well in place for a downpour that lasted about 30 minutes. Coconuts Restaurant offers great views, good food, reasonable prices and that good old Mexican hospitality. Check out their “scrap books” for some fun other visitors have had while visiting Coconuts. We then backtracked down to Chen Rio. Chen Rio is without question, the finest beach on Cozumel for just about everything you might want to do. The restaurant specializes in seafood (try the seafood platter for multiple people) and offers lobster, fish, shrimp, octopus and other delicacies. The beach is to die for and best of all, it is never crowded with cruise people. We selected to dine at Coconuts, as some of the people in our group didn’t

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Oct 1, 2004

Western Caribbean

Checking In On our first day of arrival turned out to be extremely stressful and frustrating, as after we boarded from the bus, we were on our way to a terminal which had a line coming out of the doorway and was redirected to go to terminal 4 and was told by the attendant that this would be quicker for us. Well, we were sent there only to wait about 1 ½ hours while they let the other side go in ( new comers who came in after us, and

not allowing our side to go in. This was unnecessary and uncomfortable when you have a few kids with ages running from 11 months old to 6 years old and a few elderly. We could look right into where the counter was where we were supposed to check and even the guards who were on our side of the terminal left several times to say why don't they let our side in as we were there before other travelers who had just gotten there. Finally we made it in. Coupon Book During one of the shore talks, we were told about a wonderful book that cost $20.00 that had coupons that could be used on the islands and the cruise director pushed this as being the greatest book. I purchased one only to find out after I had purchased it that it had a lot of islands that we did not go to. I was on the western Caribbean itinerary and because of hurricane Ivan, did not get to go to Grand Cayman either. There were islands for other parts of the Carribean, in which I thought that the book was supposed to include coupons for deals on Cozumel, Ocho Rios and Labedee. I thought that this book was a rip off, then I thought for a moment that if I took a trip in the near future that I could get my money's worth and use it then, only after also noticing that these coupons expired within a month's time in the book, so it was no longer any good to me whatsoever. A lot of the venders had coupons if you spent $100 or more dollars, very little that rendered a great deal for me to spend $20 on this book. The little FREE trinkets were so small that you needed a magnifying glass to see them and one vendor was supposed to give the eye of something (I forgot what it was called in Cozumel) but said that he ran out and gave me this little bead which looked like something that we use to put at the end of braided hair or to make a kiddie bracelet. Dining Experience The food in the formal dining room was very good, although whenever we wanted something else a little bit later the windjammer closed about 9:00 pm and we could not get anything really good except going to the little café on the promenade and get pizza or these little sandwiches with sunflower seeds on them. They did not offer no other drinks there but water, coffee and tea, so we had nothing for the kids and I don't drink coffee and would have preferred some punch or lemonade. We wish that we had been told that now you charge a $3.95 cover charge to go into Johnny Rockets ( we were given coupons with our crown and anchor to get in, and the food and entertainment was very good, as the employees sang and dance about every 20 minutes or so. We would have liked to have known that now the Specialty Restaurants went from $20 - $25 in cost. We also had people on a limited income and would have like to have known in advance. There are some things that should be mentioned beforehand to help passengers who have not cruised before and I had a few with us and they were somewhat disappointed and I looked a little crazy myself talking about all the good places on the ship and did not know of the extra costs. The Navigator is a beautiful ship, our dining room team were excellent, the performers were good, but the boarding, and some dining options were not. I did love the new procedure for getting off the ship and the organized manner that they have your luggage, rather then thrown in somewhere color tag land. Cozumel Cozumel was very warm and beautiful, but it rained a few times during our shopping ventures (these rains would last for about 5 minutes then warm up again). They have built up the area where you get off of the ship and have great bargains right there for those who choose not to venture onto the island because you have been there before. There are all kinds of great souvenirs and plenty of vendors ready to help you with your shopping needs. We caught a cab downtown and looked for the vendors listed in the little coupon book that I bought. The further you go down the street, there was a lot of construction so you needed to watch your step. But this also prevented us from patronizing other vendors that were beyond that point. We did not opt for the jeep ride around the island like we had previously when we visited Cozumel because we had a large group with us and they all wanted to see something different. But if you can get a chance to rent a jeep for the day and ride around the island to see the beautiful waters, surfers, visit little small shops and bars, and rent a ski doo..do it. There is only one road all the way around the island so you will not get lost, and you can stop and go as you please. At the end of your ride you will end up in the downtown area to finish your journey. Labadee The water was wonderful. We stayed on the other side of the island opposite from where you could see the ship. The difference in the water was the side where the ship was very calm and the other side had waves that made for fun when you hopped on your floatee as it would push you back on land. The cook out on the island was great, so that you do not have to go back to the ship to eat. I did not have many problems with the vendors there for souvenirs and found some inexpensive souvenirs to take home. I pretty much kept on the outside of the flea market where the vendors were not pushy and purchased some art pictures, t-shirts, and statues. It was such a relaxing time that we were among the very last to come off of the island, especially after we looked up and everyone was gone. It was a wonderful day. Ocho Rios Ocho Rios was a little humid and did the 5 minute rain thing just like in Cozumel. They have built some shops just as you are getting out from the ship where they have a Bob Marley Theatre. The shopping was good for souvenirs, liquor, and to grab a bite of Jamaican food to eat. We made it to the Taj Mahal and Soni shopping center, but we had already grabbed some great bargains at the previous shopping center. Grand Cayman had been canceled because of hurricane Ivan. Shows: The ice show is a must see. Although I did not attend the Mardi Gras in person, I did see it on TV and it looked to be great fun. I got a chance to see two movies in the movie theatre. The theatre holds about 50-60 people. It was a nice quiet change. My nephew went to the kid's camp and really enjoyed himself as the kids gave a animal safari type show in the middle of the promenade. All in ALL a cruise is the way to go for entertainment, relaxation, food, family and fun without having to worry about where everyone is, who eats what, and on which lot did you park the car this time?

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Sep 17, 2004

Western Caribbean

My wife and I are cruise regulars (this was her 16th and my 18th). In 1986, we cruised RCI on our honeymoon and have done nice ships and crummy ships but the Navigator of the Seas is in a class by itself at the top of the heap. I thought that NCLs "Norway" was big but NV has to be experienced to be believed. Our inside cabin was at the aft of the ship. Any further back and we would have needed water skis. Unless you really

like to walk, try to book a cabin close to one of the two sets of elevators. It was like walking a good city block from our cabin to the elevators. Maybe that was a good thing because we had the opportunity to walk off some of that food that we were constantly eating. We left Miami on Sept 18 and headed to Labadee, Haiti which RCI has set up as a 'Private Island'. They tender you ashore to a huge white sand beach and feed you barbecue cooked by the ship's staff on the island and was quite good. Bar service was also from the ship and included the ship's ice which will not make you sick. There are vendors on Labadee who can be quite insistent. They are nice folks but you just have to be firm. Also, as the time for the tenders to take you back to the NV nears, the prices drop. You should plan to browse early and shop late. Like another review had stated, we also recommend the soft drink card. You pay a one-time fee of about $52, they put a sticker on the back of your 'Cruise Pass' card and issue you a Coca-Cola plastic cup, which is insulated and will keep your soft drink cold even in the heat. Show up at any of the many bars, flash your card and they will fill up your cup or pour you a glass if you have left the cup in your cabin. My wife is a Coke person and I prefer Bud. Beer on board is $3.45 a pop and at the Pool Bar you can purchase 6 for the price of 5 and they ice it down for you in a plastic bucket. The next stop was Ocho Rios in Jamaica. Dunn's River Falls is a great thing to do if you are fit. It involves climbing up a flowing river about 900 feet. The one tour to avoid in Ocho Rios is the Bob Marley museum tour. You will spend about 3 hours in an icy cold museum while the tour guide outlines every facet of Bob Marley's life in incredible detail. More information than I ever wished to have presented. The Cayman Islands had been hit hard by Ivan and we bypassed it to Cozumel, Mexico. Once, St.Thomas was considered the Kmart of the Caribbean. After the time we spent in Cozumel, I suspect that it will take over that moniker from St.Thomas. On our way back to the Port of Miami, Hurricane Jeanne was bearing down on the East cost of Florida. They came on the PA and announced that the Port of Miami had been closed by the Coast Guard and that we would not be returning on Saturday as planned. A huge round of applause erupted and the Captain turned the ship around back into the Gulf. On several occasions, he got the ship within cell-phone range and they also set up a call center so that we could call ashore and alter our airline reservations. They also waived the per-minute Internet charges. Very accommodating! Two plus two may be four but seven plus Jeanne equals nine. We didn't get back to Miami until Monday... Saturday and Sunday were a free ride. They also explained that there had been so many cancellations that we could stay on board for the next five days at a price only an idiot would turn down. Our biggest problem was dirty laundry which we laundered in the bathroom sink. The price to launder a pair of men's briefs was $1.50 a pop... I didn't even pay that much for them in the first place! So... We were back to Labadee and Jamaica. We then knew how to handle ourselves at Labadee and skipped the Falls in Ocho Rios and headed directly to Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. Everything on the ship's dinner menu that we didn't try on the first leg of the journey was ordered on the second. And... This brings me to the admonition. The dining room(s) are three stories. Service is impeccable as was the food. The next paragraph is not the ship's fault... Are you planning on taking your toddler on the cruise? If so, I beg of you, do not plan to take your toddler son/daughter to the Main Dining room unless your child's vocabulary extends beyond "NOW" and "NO". There were two couples who dined (as it were) at a table about twenty feet away. Each had an apparently two-year-old child. The little girl behaved pretty well but the other couple's boy only knew NO and NOW. When he did not get whatever it was that he wanted he ranted NOW and banged his fists on the table. He obviously had mommy and daddy trained pretty well because NOW produced whatever it was that he wanted. If he didn't want what he was being fed by mommy or daddy he would shout NO and then began to scream. The boy's father grabbed that kid up from his booster chair and carried him out of the dining room at least five times during the course of a meal. The little girl averaged about two times per evening. That table failed to show up for dinner three times during our nine day 'first cruise'. We were sooooo thankful. You, as parents, should know if your toddler is ready for a classy dining room. If your kid is obviously not ready... Make other arrangements. Don't ruin things for the other folks. The Windjammer on Deck 11 Aft has most of the dinner items served at the main dining room. I'm a sucker for the cold soups and fancy entrees. You have to serve yourself from a buffet line at the Windjammer but most (if not all) of the offerings in the main dining room can be found (with some other stuff to boot). One of the big plusses is that you can do the Windjammer in shorts and a T-Shirt. I also liked it because I could try a little of this and a little of that and not feel guilty about ordering several entrees that I knew I couldn't finish (I weigh 135 lbs). We spent 14 days on NV. If you have anything that I can help you with, just eMail schubie@schubie.com and I'll do my best. Have a nice vacation.... We did!

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Mar 13, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

Nichola King We went on the Navigator of the Sea's in March. We did the Eastern Caribbean itinery, which had to be changes slightly due to the unrest in Haiti. We spent a day in Cocoa Cay instead. This is a private island and was lovely. We have nothing but good words to say about our entire holiday. The ship is huge and there

is lots to do. We were worried that only being in our 30's we might not find many people of our age onboard. We also didn't want to be surrounded by lots of children. As it was, it all turned out great, there was so much for kids to do that we didn't realise how many were actually onboard untill the last day when we got off, then we wondered where they had all come from !! Otherwise there was a good mix of age groups. We had second seating dinner and couldn't have been luckier with the couple who shared our table. They were our age and it turned out that we had very similar lives, so now we have 2 new friends from Atlanta, which is great. The dinning room we ate at was called Swan Lake and was spectacular in my opinion. The food was lovely. I am a fussy eater, but they made me something every evening that I enjoyed. My husband on the other hand, likes to try most things, so this situation suits us both. The staff were fantastic, as were all the staff on board. The one thing that Is outstanding about Royal Caribbean is the politeness of the staff. After dinner our waiter would tell us where our next port of call was going to be and anything he thought would be of interest to us, which was nice of him. He told us that St Thomas was his favourite place and after stopping there I could see why, it beautiful. Food was plentifull, with a good choice everyday. Sometimes the Windjammer resturant gets busy at lunch time, but if you try to avoid peak times that helps. We found there was plenty of sun loungers so there was no worries there, the pool area's did get very busy, especially on sea days. Dont bother to take towels with you as they are provided for the pool area and you can take them off the ship if you need to.You just go to the towel exchange in the pool area's when you want a clean one. I would definatly recommed buying a soft drink ( soda ) card. At the start of the cruise you pay a set price for this card and then you dont pay anymore for your soft drinks. It costs about $55 so make sure it's going to be worth you while, depending on how much your likely to drink. Some sort drinks are provided for free, for example iced tea, apple juice, tea and coffee. While onboard you must go and see the ice show. We thought it was very good, it's amazing what can be done in a small space.We also saw 2 shows which were very good as well. Our rooms were kept clean and tidy, by a very good room steward. Again exeptionally polite staff. I cant think of anything to say that wasn't good. We cruised with Carnival before and thought that we had a good time, but this cruise was really something else. This ship is in a class of it's own and I dont know how anyone could not enjoy theirselfs onboard. Another important thing to note is the tipping. At the end of the sruise you will be given the option to buy pre paid gratuities. You pay for vouchers, which are then left in your room with envelopes for you to give to the staff. It's a great idea. Just be aware that if you are an international traveler ( not from America) the graturities may already be included in the cost of your holiday. We ended up with 2 lots of vouchers as we didn't know about this. When my husband went to pursers desk they looked on the computer and said that they had already been paid for in the UK. We got a refund on one lot of vouchers, so that was ok. We hadn't ask to pre pay in the UK, so some tour operators must just include them. Just check on the ship before you pay out for more.

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Feb 7, 2004

Western Caribbean

I am writing this letter to express our unease regarding the level of service that was received as well as to highlight some other behaviors of the crew that were practiced onboard. We have cruised several times with you in the past and have always anticipated your style of cruising above all others. This also happens to be our second cruise aboard an Eagle

Class ship in less than one year. This was the first time we have ever wanted to turn back time and be on a different ship or be just on an island. We doubted even if this was the right place for us to be. We doubted we received our monies worth. It all began in the Dining Room. We were seated at table #449 for the second seating and were very excited to meet our table mates as well as the four crew members that would be taking care of us that week. The service made us feel like we were on an assembly line, not like we were on a ship that touts itself to be “like no vacation on earth”. The wine steward never made him or herself known to us. As a result we never were offered after dinner shooters, nor suggested a nice wine pairing to make the meal more palatable. One member of our party asked for a second order of shrimp cocktail and did not receive it, nor was there any acknowledgement of the error. We never did meet the Head Waiter, not even on “lobster night”. We began to realize if we waited for him or her to make his or her way over to our table, go over introductions, and take the tails out of the shells our meal would be cold, so we did it ourselves. As it was, by the time the drawn butter was brought to us, the lobster was already eaten. The tenderloin with the surf and turf was tough and chewy like it has been reheated several times, and the Grand Marnier soufflé was presented in a do-it-yourself manner which was unlike we had seen on prior RCI cruises. One of the reasons we chose to return to the Eagle Class ship is due to the specialty dining options that are offered onboard. “Johnny Rockets” is one of those dining options. By the third day of the cruise, “Johnny Rockets” was no longer able to offer its patrons what we consider to be their signature menu item: onion rings. They never were able to have more shipped in even though we still had three more ports of call left on the itinerary. We found that to be inexcusable, especially when we found there was a crew party that was held after Cozumel, where there was loads of food items brought onto the ship with “no expense spared”, according to one crew member. Not only did the lack of onion rings affect “Johnny Rockets”, it also affected “Chops Grill” because they could not offer them with one of their dishes. Another reason we choose RCI repeatedly is the way children and adults can enjoy themselves in the main pool/spa area and not infringe on the each others areas. At no time were the children told to stay in one pool. At no time were the rules enforced to have a parent or guardian of a child in the hot tubs. At no time were the children told to stay out of the “adult only” hot tub. It would have been nice to be able to have a soak in the main pool area without a splashing child in the hot tub with you. One child even was doing handstands in the hot tub! No bright yellow Deck Patrol shirts to be seen. So we decided to go into the Solarium hot tubs to have a peaceful soak. There was no room in those tubs because one was closed for cleaning at a high traffic time of day! We found that to be extremely frustrating. Not to mention, parts of the pool deck were also roped off during high traffic times so they can be hosed down. Guest Services was helpful, albeit up to a point. I had a spa treatment done and I forgot to bring my Crown and Anchor 5% coupon with me at the time of the service. I went to Guest Services to ask if anything could be done about that. After the Guest Services Clerk pulled himself back from the counter drawing his breath in as he did so, I was directed upstairs to speak the Spa Manager to see if there was any way I could be helped.. It was 10pm, the spa was closed and this was Wednesday evening. I was told I had to get it done before Friday if any adjustments were going to be made. The next day we docked at 10am and our Party Boat Tour left at 10:30am. There was no time to do such a thing. However, the one thing that really got our goat was the abruptness and haughtiness of the Jewelry Store Sales Clerk. Seeing we were recently engaged, we wanted to have a nice picture taken with the sparkle of the ring in the foreground to use as our Engagement Picture. I went up to the counter and politely asked if it was possible for someone to clean my ring. The clerks back was turned when I asked the question because she was cleaning a case. Without even turning around fully her response was, “We sell gold cleaner for ten dollars.” Taken aback, I asked quietly, “You mean, you can’t just clean it for a picture?” She responded sharply, “We’re not allowed to.” My eyes felt like they were saucers, so I quickly said “thank you” turned on my heel and left. This woman had no idea if I was also about to spend thousands of dollars in her store, yet treated me as if I was intruding on her space and taking up her valuable time. As a result of this mediocre cruise experience, that was in essence to celebrate one of the happiest times of our lives, we are questioning where our loyalties lie. The response to this letter will indeed help us uncover the answer as well as help us figure out who will assist us with the celebration of our upcoming wedding and honeymoon. In closing, if this was our first cruise with RCI you can be assured we would not return to your line. With RCI, we are accustomed to unparallel service, fantastic food, and wonderful amenities with no questions asked which is why we have returned to you again and again. Members of our families have returned again and again for the same reasons. However, if this is an inkling of where RCI’s road is headed, you can be assured we will not return.

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Jan 24, 2004

Western Caribbean

I have just read Rebecca's review and I absolutely loved the Navigator of the Seas. My husband and I went with two friends and we had a fabulous time. It was worth every penny! The ship was clean and accommodating and the staff were more than happy to help. We set off from Miami (my husband celebrated his birthday) we stayed at the Miami Intercontinental the

night before setting off. Very nice! Once on board the ship, our first port of call was Labadee. What a beautiful day we had there. Sun shining and plenty of relaxing. We stopped at Ocho Rios, not the most wonderful place. Then on to Grand Cayman which was our favourite stopping and shopping place (my birthday was spent on Seven Mile beach). Friendly people and very clean. Then on to Cozumel the following day and final port of call before returning to Miami. On board the ship, Johnny Rockets was great fun. We ate there and the staff danced to Grease. That night they did have onion rings. On the night before we got back to Miami they had ran out. Obviously they are so popular, they do not have enough of them!!! We also ate in Chops Grille, the food is very nice and service to match. Overall our cruise was spectacular. The artwork on board was wonderful. The shows fantastic. The food and service excellent. My friends and I would love to go again on the Navigator.

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Jan 10, 2004

Western Caribbean

We just completed our 1st cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas. We sailed 01/10/04 to the Western Caribbean for 7 days. We chose this ship because it is one of the newer large vessels with lots of amenities. We chose the Western Caribbean because the itinerary included places we had never been. Haiti/Labadee, Ocho Rios/Jamaica, Georgetown/Cayman Islands and Cozumel/Mexico. 1st stop - Labadee, Haiti, Royal Caribbean’s

private ocean side retreat. We had a very relaxing day, lying out on the beach, exploring and had a great BBQ lunch on shore. There were a lot of options available for the adventurous guest for a fee, including jet skis, kayaking, snorkeling and floating mats. 2nd stop - Ocho Rios, Jamaica. There were many excursions available here. We chose Brimmer Hall Plantation, a tour of an 18th century estate and Dunn’s River Falls. The Estate tour was leisurely and interesting. We got to see some of the island on our drive to and from the estate and to the falls. Dunn’s River Falls is a beautiful cascading waterfall over ledges and rocks. Guides take you from the bottom to the top of the falls by helping you climb up the fall ledges and foot holes in the rocks. In between climbs you rest in natural pools of water. The climb takes about an hour. Some people dropped out along the way (there are exit points as you climb), but most of our group made it to the top. Definitely something we will remember. The cost was $59 per adult plus tips for the driver, tour guide and Dunn’s River guides (2) all of whom did a great job. 3rd stop – Georgetown, Grand Caymans. Again there are many excursions available at this port of call. We chose the Snorkeling, Stingray City Combination. Great trip! Stingray City is everything we had heard about it and more. Touching and feeding these beautiful animals as they glide around you is incredible. The cost was $58 per adult plus tip for the boat crew. Well worth the money. The stingrays should not be missed. In the afternoon, we visited Georgetown and did some shopping. People were very nice and I would like to visit again in the future. 4th stop – Cozumel, Mexico. While there were a lot of excursions available, we decided to take a day to just look around. We went on the Royal Caribbean’s guided shopping tour. Dean and Josie were great. They would help people with all types of questions about jewelry, dining and anything else you could think to ask. About the ship Navigator of the Seas. We arrived Saturday around 1 pm. Check in couldn’t have been easier. We went to our stateroom with a balcony (a great upgrade if you can swing it) and then headed out to explore the ship. Beautiful design, lots of amenities and a wonderful crew. The staff went out of their way to be helpful and friendly. This is true about housekeeping, the waiters and other food servers and people just walking through an area. They never acted put upon if asked directions or an opinion. We had read reviews about how expensive everything was on board. We don’t agree. Yes, we did have to pay for all of our drinks, but we did not find them to be way over priced. The gift shops and general store on board have to compete with the shops in port. The ship stores had sales everyday and it is up to you and your budget how much you want to buy. The Inter-active TV in each room allows you to constantly monitor how much money you have spent at any given moment. Something I wasn’t expecting was the amount of cigarette smoke we were exposed to. Every bar allows smoking as does the casino, the night clubs and all open decks. The smoke from the bars drifts out into the Central Grand Promenade and was annoying. The casino is very smoky most of the time. The open decks should be segregated. Possibly one half smoking the other half non-smoking would be an acceptable compromise. It’s 2004 and this issue has been settled in most of the U.S.A. and Royal Caribbean should lead the way to accommodate its non-smoking guests. The food was very good to excellent and VERY plentiful. The homemade cookies were a favorite afternoon snack. We did not eat at the two specialty restaurants on board. We had actually planned to, but after eating in the main dining room we thought why should we. Our table provided great company and excellent service. All of the meals were superb and there were enough choices to satisfy the pickiest eater. My wife climbed the rock wall to the top! The staff was very helpful with tips and hints on how to accomplish this without any injuries. We also played miniature golf. It is almost surreal to play golf on an open deck at sea with miles of ocean all around you. The basketball course is first rate. We didn’t get in the pool (too busy). We did try one of the many hot tubs one afternoon. Unfortunately, the water wasn’t that warm due to the constant bubbler that introduces outside air into the heated water, cooling it down. The shows at night were spectacular. Professional comedians, a Broadway Review, an Ice Dancing Show and other fun acts were a great way to end an evening. The main theatre is amazing. Big seats set in an incredible décor. Dark woods, carpeting and mood lighting highlight a 1st class stage with its own orchestra. The Tuxedo Rental Program couldn’t have been easier. You can order online by giving your measurements and a credit card number. The tux was in our cabin when we arrived with two shirts, one for each “formal” night. After the 2nd formal night, the staff came and picked up the tux. Easy and I looked great. The cost was $85 without shoes. Bingo was a fun activity and a way to gamble without going into the casino. The “Jackpot” rolled up all week and was won on the last afternoon. One couple won over $8,500 cash! Unfortunately, that couple wasn’t us, but Dutch, the Assist. Cruise Director was a lot of fun and kept everyone laughing and having fun. Royal Caribbean has a new option for tipping the staff. You can use their recommended tip amounts for the 4 categories (Housekeeping, Head Waiter, Waiter, and Back Waiter) or you can more to these amounts if you would like. You sign the sheet and turn it in to Customer Relations and the total is charged to your Sea Pass Account (your Credit Card). This gets rid of the problem of stuffing envelopes with the right amount of cash on your last night, when you hand out your tips to the people who took such good care of you. Exiting the ship the following Saturday morning was quicker and easier than I imagined. We were off the boat by 9 am and headed home. We drove to the port and paid for parking. Our bill came to $84 for the 7 ½ days. Seems steep to me. Our very first cruise was very relaxing and a lot of fun. We will definitely sail with Royal Caribbean again. Wonderful service, great amenities and a beautiful setting.

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Jan 3, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

I know that I read reviews on this ship before I went cruising and they were very educational, so I want to extend my newfound level of knowledge to you. SO read this because it WILL be helpful! We got to the port of Miami on January 3rd 2004 (SAT) at around 11:00-11:30am. I think this was a good time. It was absolutely crazy down at the street

and the porters were rude. I tipped the guy a couple of dollars for 2 bags like I would at the plane and he gave me an attitude. That did not start things off too well but it got a lot better. Once inside we only had about a 15-minute wait to check in and give up our credit card information and then we were on. DAY 1: Miami We got on the boat and we’re totally in AWE. The ship is very modern with lots of very cool art and decorations and nice plasma screen TVs and other modern stuff. We could not believe how cool it was and I just started video taping everything. We got to our room and were very happy to have chosen the OCEANVIEW STATEROOM. That is the one with the balcony overlooking the ocean. For a couple of hundred extra dollars it is totally worth it. There is a wall between guests on the balcony and the view is to die for. Highly recommended. We basically spent the first day/night walking around the ship and buying liquor and other stuff. **The first day they have these specials where you can buy like 2-5 bottles of liquor for super cheap…like 8-12 dollars and one and you only have to pay 1 charge of like 8 bucks to take all of the bottles to your room once the boat leaves Miami. If you are a big hard alcohol drinker than this is the way to go and save money. Otherwise drinks are about 5-8 dollars apiece and beer work out to be almost 5 bucks a pop. They would not be too bad except that an automatic 15% tip is put on almost everything!!! It kind of sucks, because some people do not deserve a tip. We hung out and drank and waved to people as we left about 5:30pm and were on our way. DAY 2: Nassau, Bahamas We woke up in the Bahamas. We ate breakfast at the dining room. It is OK. It is pretty fast and of course it is all you can eat, but I really enjoyed the Windjammer Café more. That is buffet style. We had signed up for the snorkeling trip. Not really recommended. We were taken out on about a 45-minute boat ride. It did not make everyone feel so well. Then they basically make you jump out of the boat in the middle of the ocean with nothing to hold on to with a stupid flotation device that does not fit properly strapped over your head, choking you. It was ok but I would not recommend it. We came back and walked around the little main street of Nassau. It is nice and surprisingly clean. The people are super nice too. Pick up some Cuban cigars here. They are worth it. DAY 3 : At SEA People get up really early and go up on the sun deck and put down their towels so that they will not get their seat stolen later. It gets crazy on the deck and it is really hard to find a place to lay out with your friends and family. I thought the saving chairs game was stupid and should not be allowed, but get up there early and get your spot or you are screwed. They have fun contests and lots of drinking going on. It was really windy that day and the seas were pretty rough. If any one tells you that you cannot feel the movement of the ship on a cruise then tell them they are stupid. YOU CAN!!! It is pretty hardcore too. It did not stop for about 48 hours and I thought it would never end. Even when I was off the ship I was still moving. If you get sick easy then a cruise is not for you. And if you take Dramamine then you will just sleep through the entire trip. I used the wristbands that you can buy. I don’t know if they really did anything or not, but they make you think they are working. It is all in one’s head. DAY 4: St Thomas, Virgin Islands My favorite stop on the trip. My friends got married up in the hills on a cool bay. It was so beautiful here. The people are cool. Be sure and check out the small flea market type shopping. If you are looking for cool jewelry then you can find it here. We bought a couple of Tanzanite necklaces. It may not have been tanzanite but it was a blue stone that looks like turquoise but nicer and it is called the jewel of the Caribbean. DAY 5: San Juan, Puerto Rico Very big city and unlike the other stops. We walked for about 5 miles to an old fort, castle looking building and it was cool. Very cool town. You are not there for very long so take advantage and get up early. DAY 6: Labadee, Hispaniola Haiti This place supposedly is owner by Royal Caribbean. It is nothing more than a beautiful island. The best bet here is to rent the floating mat. Then you can just chill in the ocean. The problem here is that the good side of the island to snorkel is where they try to ban you from being. I got into an argument with a guy that hardly spoke English about being able to swim in one side of the ocean. There is a sign posted that says swim at your own risk, but the guy still kept bitching so I finally gave up. So don’t spend money to snorkel. Not worth it. The jet skiing could be fun if you want to spend 100 dollars, but I did not feel like it was. Day 7 : At Sea Another day of hanging out at the pool and getting done those activities on the boat that you have not done yet. Do the rock climbing wall, play some miniature golf, arcade games or just more drinking because tomorrow you will be going home. ---Tipping We tipped out room steward the first day and then tipped a little extra at the end. Everyone else got their money the last night in the envelopes that are provided. ---Liquor I snuck liquor on in a shampoo bottle and did not even drink it. you can get it for so cheap on the boat, so just do that. ---Soda card It is about 50 dollars with tax and tip for 1 card. you can drink all the soda you want with a stamp on your cruise "Sea Pass" It is worth it, but just buy 1 if you will be that person. You do not need to be the person on the card. you just need to flash it to get a soda. ---bring nice clothes There are 2 formal nights and the rest of the nights everyone looks nice so you will want to to. --Entertainment-- The ICE show, Ice Dancing is cool. Get the tix as soon as you can. I really enjoyed the "Best of Broadway" type show. Also if you like to groove the club, called the Dungeon gets crazy and stays open until 4am. I closed that out many nights!! if you have any questions email me at djchamp@hotmail.com GOOD LUCK and remember it is supposed to be fun and relaxing

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Dec 27, 2003

Western Caribbean

Hello, my name is Justin and I am reviewing the Navigator of the Seas. I will be reviewing this cruise from the perspective of a family with 2 children, one teen and one 11 year old. First I will mention the ship. Navigator is the once largest cruise ship on the ocean. It is huge. I don't think that it is possible to do everything in one week. There is an

ice rink, rock wall, and pools galore. Check out the RCCL website to see everything, their descriptions are accurate. There are many many kids on the ship, almost 1000 on our new years sailing. RCCL claims that there are endless activities for them, but that is stretching the truth. There are activities to do, but not a lot. For young children, under 12 or 13 there is a lot, but the Teen Club is not up to teen standards. Be advised that most activities, like bingo, rock climbing, golf simulator, ice rink, in-line skating, all require a parents presence. The sports court has a basketball court and activities that are fun for teens and all people. Most activities on the ship, however, are for adults. This year, more than last, most happenings on board were based on you buying alcohol. You cant be more than a 1 minute walk from a bar. There is a bar at the breakfast buffet. I recommend that you buy a drink card for the children, which is around 30 dollars and gives you unlimited sodas. Now, if you enjoy adult drinks, a few a day, buy a drink card which for a price allows you to have a limited amount of drinks. Be careful, Pina Coladas, and Bahama Mamas can run up to and over 7 dollars a drink. Your tab will run up fast. Beer is also very expensive. I will include a tip list at the end that will cover all of my tips. When we arrived in Miami, we met the family that we were traveling with at their condo. At 2pm, we taxied to the port and checked-in. We did not use the airport transfer from RCCL. If you have a later flight in the day, than i recommend you do it. The port was busy, but not as bad as the airport. It took us about 30-40 minutes to get from taxi to ship. We immediately went to our rooms, a interior, and a balcony. The interior was small and tight. Not much time is spent in your room, so size does not matter. I liked the interior because at night, it was dark and quiet. The balcony was larger and very nice. I recommend the balcony because it is so beautiful to have a view of everything. We were on deck 7, towards the aft section. We ate at the early dinning, 6pm, every night. The food was good, sometimes great, and sometimes not so good. The wait staff was amazing. Out waiter, Brent from India, was the nicest person on the ship, and there were a lot of them, If you do not like something, you can send it back, order another, or change your entire meal. The shows on-board are usually an hour or so long. Go see them, they are all fun and are not too long. The night life was geared towards gamblers and drinkers, if you do neither, than you will be sleeping. The night club is for under 30's mostly. There is a jazz club, wine bar, pub, champagne bar, cigar club, which was very relaxing, and other bars all around. The second day of our cruise was a day at sea. These are fun for everyone. The family all spit up, and we did out own thing. I laid in the sun, my father read a book, my mother went shopping on board, my brother went swimming. The calypso band at the pool was a great touch. The cruise staff did a great job of having non-stop activites all week, it is hard to get bored. The third day was Labadee Haiti. This is a semi-private beach area run by RCCL. It is a fun place to relax and take it easy for the day. There is a small flea market run by Haitians. They are very pushy tp get you to buy and please be careful with your belongings when inside. Here are some tricks they use, they will say enter my store, and then stand in your way until you buy something. Don't go in, unless you know you will buy. Also, Haggle Haggle Haggle, I bought 3 beautiful paintings for 25 dollars. Hold you children close while their. As far as beaches go, I recommend Barefoot beach, get there early to save a seat. Do an excursion if you like what they offer, it is jet-skis and para-sailing. Our second stop was Ocho Rios Jamaica. Take a taxi to downtown, and try not to walk to far alone, the people will not hurt you, but will barrage you with offers to braid your hair, sell you dope, or invite you to parties, DO NOT TAKE THEM UP ON ANY BIDS. There is a dog on board that sniffs drugs, and the ship does have jail cells. Don't miss the Taj Mahal shops, the Bijoux Jewelers have wonderful deals, and go to the local market across the street, the people are very pushy, but also kind and nice. Lots of Bob Marley stuff everywhere. Take a taxi to Dunn's River Falls, and climb up them. It is difficult, but possible. My 12 year old brother made it, along with my 50 year old father. Not for young children and old folks. Don't take the boat's tours, they are a rip-off and always run late, 'Its Jamaica Mon”. Taxis are cheap and easy to come by, make sure they are licensed though. Walk through the downtown and have a drink at Margaritaville. Grand Cayman was pleasant. But BUSY!, 6 Ships were in port. We did the Grand Cayman Snorkel, which worked out wonderfully. The boat ride was only 5 minutes or so, and the captains were very nice and informative. The snorkeling was on a wreck and a reef. I highly recommend this trip. It is about 2 or 3 hours, and goes fast. There is not a long ride to get there, which was great, and the equipment was in perfect shape. Grand Cayman is the shopping destination. The prices are higher and there is not much to do other than Duty Free shopping. Finally Cozumel. Cozumel was not bad, The shopping is fine, talk to the Port Shopping guide for info. There are good deals to be made on jewelry and other items. For teens, At the mall across from the middle town port, there is a Quicksilver store that has amazing deals on jeans, only 18 dollars a pair. The town is safe to walk through, take a taxi to the forum shops and walk back. Don't eat or drink much there. Stick to Carlos And Charlie's for a good party. Here are my tips for your cruise. Please feel free to Email me with any questions, I will do my best to respond quickly. (Please mention Question for cruise in subject, I get a lot of SPAM) -An early flight to arrive at port is best. Boarding early gives you time to explore the ship. -Both seatings have a show, its up to your preference on which to choose. -Get to the theater about 30min early. - Tenders at ports ALWAYS run late, give yourself 30 min to get to shore on average. - The windjammer is good for breakfast, okay for everything else. - Not every meal is gourmet, don't expect them to be. - Every staff member is willing to help you, they go out of their way to help. Just ask them. - Be nice to people, you can meet new folks that way. If you are hell-bent on getting a tan, go to the deck above the pool bar, it is small and fills fast, get there by 11am. - Play bingo, it is fun. - Meet the Cruise Director and staff, they are friendly and helpful. - Don't be scared to ask guest relations for help, they are very patient. - Don't book your excursions ahead of time, unless you really want to do a certain trip. Be warned, if you book a boat tour, you will most likely have rough seas, and not for weak-of-stomach people. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME WITH ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS. -Justin B.

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Dec 27, 2003

Western Caribbean

Ship is absolutely beautiful. From skating rink to basketball court to 18 hole miniature golf course, it has it all. Plenty of activities on board to keep everyone going. We did the Western Caribbean, including the Labadee, Haiti stop (turned out to be the best stop of all!!). Due to rough seas, the diving and parasailing were cancelled in Grand Cayman, Jamaica

and Cozumel. We did the jet skiing in Labadee (that is where the picture Royal Caribbean uses in their "Get out There" ads.) Although rough (6 to 8 foot waves) we had a blast. Food on board is as good as we have had on a number of Carnival and Celebrity ships. 3 Tier dining room gives a lot of tables great views. Formal dining room was open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also had a super buffet on the 11th deck for all nmeals AND there is a 24 hour cafe in the promenade area (5th deck). Casino is heavy slanted to one arm bandits. Only 1 craps table and I got shut out of playing a number of times due to crowd. Did not take the ship sponsored land tours and saved a bundle. Cabs were readily available at all ports to take you to the places you really wanted to see. Highly recommend Dunns River Falls in Jamaica. Only paid $5 per person to get a cab there ($10 admission at the Falls), while fellow passengers paid over $50 to do the Falls and one other stop. Two nights were formal and many men did rent tux's (on board), but most had suits. New Years Eve was the best. Huge party in the Promenade. Free champagne. Many people were good and trashed come 12:00 o'clock. There is an English tavern (poets Club) that has the best glass of Bass Ale you can find. We partied very harty that night and lots of free shots, beer, and champagne were given out. We paid a tidy sum to be on board this week, so free booze was a pretty classy act for this night. Midnight Buffet is true to form. Only available on Thursday night, but they had a good party on Tuesday night with lots of Corona beer (buy 2 bottles, get 5). I did have a lot of problems signing on in the internet center. They should have someone there to assist as many people were disenfranchised with this computer network. There was so much available to do, I never made it to the Sports bar, something I never miss. I understand they had some pools going on a number of games. Don't miss out like I did. They have the Karaoke stuff, but the gal that ran it was not up to the challenge. The Carnival Legend was not to be outdone concerning Karaoke. Anyway, this ship is by far the best I have had the pleasure sailing on. Many ports has numerous ships in and I spoke to a number of passengers on them and seasickness was definitely prevalent. NOT ON THE NAVIGATOR. Once in a while you could feel some rocking, but smooth sailing in some pretty rough seas.

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Nov 1, 2003

Western Caribbean

This has been my second cruise, but my first on Royal Caribbean, and I have to admit that I had a blast on this ship. How can't you like this ship that has an ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, pool, miniature golf, in line skating rink, jogging track, theater, 3 floor dining room, and much, much more! First of all, the food was very good, but the food on Celebrity was a bit better. Next, the entertainment was fabulous, shows every

night that were fantastic. The Cruise Comics were also very funny. There is much to do on this ship, and there are many places where you can get food 24 hrs a day! There is also a mall, night club, shuffle board, church, and even a Johnny Rockets! We did Western Caribbean this time and went to Haiti, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, MX. All of these ports were great. Haiti is RCI's private island, and has many swimming areas. We did dunn's river falls in Jamaica and was tricky but also a lot of fun. Grand Cayman was my favorite port because I snorkeled with the stingrays and dove in coral reefs, although it rained the whole time. and in Cozumel, there are many places to shop and go on the beach. I recommend going in the water because it was 95 degrees, and that was in November! The only bad parts of the cruise were that you had to tender in to Haiti and Grand Cayman and it took AT LEAST 45 min. Also the weather was a little rainy and some activities had to be cancelled. Our room was small but nice and the ship was extremely clean. It weighs 140,000 tons and has 15 million dollars of architecture. Otherwise I had a great time and look forward to cruising with Royal Caribbean again soon!

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Sep 19, 2003

Western Caribbean

The Ship We have been to the Western Caribbean before and have always enjoyed it. Mostly, this is due to the fact that we are scuba divers and Cozumel is one of the premier places in the world to go scuba diving. But I’ll talk more about that later. Although we have cruised a lot, our children (ages 18, 20, & 24) have never been on a cruise, so we decided it was time they went with us. They also invited some of their friends

and we ended up with a party of 10; and it was definitely a non-stop party! For this trip, we chose the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas to the Western Caribbean. It is a wonderful ship and has our stamp of approval for families or first time cruisers. The Navigator of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s fourth of the Voyager-class ships and began service in December 2002. We have been on the Voyager of the Seas a couple of years ago and they took a magnificent design and made it even better with the Navigator. There is much to do on this ship; enough to keep everyone of any age happy. We were all from the Washington, DC area and two of our party drove down in their car while our three children along with 3 others drove down in our van. It takes about 15 – 17 hours to drive from DC to Miami, so they purchased a couple of small LCD screens and hooked them up to the Playstation and DVD player to keep themselves entertained. Our van had been transformed into a rolling video studio! My wife and I did not want to spend 30 hours in a van with the kids, so we decided to fly from Dulles to Ft. Lauderdale on Jet Blue. (It’s usually much cheaper to fly to Ft. Lauderdale and take a taxi to Miami than it is to fly directly into the Miami airport.) We purchased our tickets directly online for $146.50 roundtrip, which was a pretty good deal. (Spirit Air is another airline with great rates.) When we got to the Ft. Lauderdale airport, we found the taxi stand and requested to share a ride with someone to the Port of Miami. No sooner had he taken our name when two guys walked up and said they wanted to go to the Port of Miami. I asked them which ship they were headed to and they announced that they, too, were going onboard the Navigator. So, we got together in a cab and shared the ride for $15 per person for the 32 mile trip. (The really unbelievable coincidence was that these two guys were booked in the suite right next to ours! Figure the odds of that happening!!) Embarkation usually takes forever, but Royal Caribbean has taken strides to make this as painless and as quick as possible. Some cruise lines force everyone to go through their picture taking area in hopes you will buy them. Most people don’t know that this is not a mandatory stop and they can bypass the line and just board the ship. But Royal does not “push” this so it is very easy to just walk around the stop. This is very much appreciated by those of us who cruise on a regular basis. Anyway, we decided to take this particular trip as they offered us a good rate. We could not afford to book a cabin as Travel partner. I had preordered champagne and flowers to be delivered to our cabin and they were there when we arrived, much to my wife’s approval. You can carry on one bottle of wine or champagne with you, so I also brought another bottle along with me for consumption later in the cruise. But you can also buy packages for your cabin that include bathrobes, hors d'oeuvres, champagne, pictures, etc. They add a very nice touch to the romance of the cruise. Ok, back to the ship; we were in cabin 1256 on Deck 10, which is slightly forward on the starboard side. The hallways on this deck run the entire length of the ship, making it easy to get around. But being close to the front of the ship with the all the restaurants in the back of the ship made for a very long walk for meals. We did not feel the ‘motion of the ocean’ during any part of our trip. The cabin was very quiet and our cabin attendant was great. When we first got on board, we went to the Guest Relations desk to take care of last minute details and while standing in line I noticed a young lady in a hard hat wearing a pair of bright orange coveralls. She was standing by a large bronze statue and I couldn’t help but watch her as she began to dust it. She then grabbed a hold of the arm and pulled herself up and was dusting under the arm, on top the head, etc. I wasn’t sure what I was seeing as she was not cleaning it in any normal manner. Others around me starting watching her and her routine became funnier by the minute. It wasn’t until later that we all realized it was just an act; there was a group of mimes all wearing the same outfits pretending to be janitors and they were entertaining the unsuspecting guests. It became mesmerizing watching them in the promenade. By the way, the promenade is unique to the Voyager-class ships. It’s over 100 yards long and houses the ship’s stores as well as serve as an indoor street for parades and concerts. There was always something going on during the evenings. The ship is said to hold 3,114 passengers when there are 2-to a room. Since our cruise was not sold out, there were not that many on board, making it very nice. There is one main dining room on this ship and it resembles the classic design of the Titantic with a huge chandelier, beautiful large staircase, and a grand piano. It is truly magnificent. Since the ship is so large, we never really felt crowded anywhere on the ship at any time except when we first got on board; we went to the Windjammer Café for lunch, along with everyone else. I won’t go into all the amenities on board, as I could fill a book talking about them. But they are as wonderful as the rest of the ship. The rock climbing wall was very popular and my kids even got me to give it a try. It’s not as easy as it looks, but fun was had by all. We also tried the miniature golf course, which needed some design work, but was still fun. We ate at Johnny’s Rockets and thoroughly enjoyed the burgers and fries. The 8 youngsters in the group all really enjoyed The Dungeon, which is a two story nightclub and didn’t close until about 3am. Our kids decided to find out about the 24-hour room service when they ordered hamburgers at 4am and had them promptly delivered 20 minutes later. We went to the ice show one night and having been a hockey family for 20 years, we weren’t really into figure skating shows. But all of us were extremely impressed with the show; it was great! The costumes, the choreography, and the skating were all wonderful. It was amazing to watch them perform on such a small ice surface. We also went to the Las Vegas-style show, which was done very well. The midnight comedian was really great; we all laughed until we cried! One of the highlights in the area of entertainment was the ventriloquist; Jay Johnson. He was absolutely fantastic!! His characters, the precocious Bob, and Darwin the monkey, were incredible. He is an extremely gifted performer and we were overjoyed and honored to have seen him perform. On the days at sea we had no desire to sit in the sun all day, but we did go by a few times to see how crowded the pool area was. On other cruises, there were always too many people and not enough lounge chairs. This was not the case on this cruise and it was very enjoyable. It also made using the spa, hot tubs, steam rooms, etc. much nicer as well. The one thing we always enjoy about Royal Caribbean is that they do not make a lot of announcements and this was true on this cruise as well. However, one thing that would have made this ship a lot nicer is for Royal Caribbean to have irons available for their guests. We had forgot to bring our trusty portable steamer, so we had to send several shirts, dresses, and my suit to be pressed. This can be costly when you figure the charge plus the gratuities. I also wish they had soda machines, so you could go buy a can whenever you had the urge, instead of having to call room service or find a bar. The food was very good. In fact, none of us had a bad meal during the entire cruise. Most of the time, we chose to eat in the formal dining room for all breakfasts and dinners, then would eat lunch on shore, in the Windjammer Café, or at Johnny Rockets, which had very good fresh made hamburgers – not those stamped out frozen hockey pucks you get at some places. At some meals, we would order two entrees, like steak and lobster, which our waiter readily accommodated. The desserts were very good and always extremely well presented. They laid out fantastic midnight buffets. We’d usually still be full from dinner, but would go just to look as it was worth the trip. We chose to spend our last dinner at Chops and as always, the food and service was impeccable. It is well worth the extra $20 to eat there. (The charge is for a gratuity and not for the food.) But we highly recommend both Chops and Portofino – the Italian restaurant. They are both outstanding and will not disappoint you. Since we had a suite that included entrance into the Concierge Club, we would usually go there for cocktails. They had a nice assortment of alcohol and hors d'oeuvres, and it made for a nice relaxing get together before dinner. They also had DVD, VHS tapes, and CD’s for loan, as well as providing assistance with reservations. There was an espresso machine in the Concierge Club, so my wife loved having fresh cappuccino in the morning. And speaking of morning, on our last day at sea I ordered a complete breakfast to be served on our balcony. It was a very romantic way to enjoy a beautiful day while watching the deep blue sea. Overall, this is an awesome ship and I would not hesitate going on it again. I would highly recommend it to my clients, especially to those with kids. I can provide additional information to you if needed, but this ship literally has something for everyone and if you find yourself bored, it’s only because you want to be. Labadee, Haiti Royal Caribbean calls this their ‘private island’ when in fact it’s actually a small peninsula located on the north side of the island of Haiti. Because there is no pier, all passengers must be tendered to the beach, which was handled relatively quickly since they have increased the number of tenders. Getting back on board took a while longer only because everyone waited until the last minute to get in line. There are three beaches, but most passengers park themselves in the first beach they come to, which leaves the second beach not as crowded and the third beach hardly used at all. If it had been just my wife and I, we would have opted for the third beach but the youngsters wanted to see and be seen, so we found some lounge chairs under a big tree and staked out our area for the day. It was a beautiful day and the water was very warm and clear – truly a lovely day at the beach to relax. I only had two complaints about our day; Royal Caribbean requires all snorkelers to rent an inflatable vest for $6 each. Although we understood the need to have these for some people, we all had our own snorkel gear since we are accomplished scuba divers and found them to be more of a gimmick to earn money than anything else. You could swim without one; you just couldn’t snorkel without one – go figure the logic. The other complaint centered around the environment. There were many small conch shells on the bottom and I saw several people picking them up and carrying them out of the water. I asked one of the lifeguards if this was permitted and he said it was not, yet there were no signs and no enforcement of the rule. Being a conscientious scuba diver, I found this to be rather disconcerting. The food was all brought over from the ship and is free of charge. It wasn’t all that great and the choices were few, but given the circumstances, they did a pretty good job of providing for everyone. The Haitian Market was filled with the usual island tourist wares and the locals were only slightly pushy, but you get that pretty much everywhere down there so it wasn’t a problem. For those more adventuresome, there were jet skis and parasailing available as well as a ‘water park’. I would not recommend the water park only because it had very little to offer and costs $15 for 50 minutes of use – something we all found ridiculously expensive. But overall, it was a nice day to relax and enjoy the sun, sand, and water. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Jamaica is a very poor country, so you will be hassled everywhere you go to buy from people hawking their wares. Unfortunately, there’s not much to do in Jamaica. Most people will take a shore excursion that includes a stop at Dunns River Falls. It’s a great place to cool off and take some wonderful pictures. However, it is usually very crowded and walking up the falls is more of a hassle than fun with all those people. If you want to go to the falls, I highly recommend you bypass the shore excursions and do it yourself. You can take a taxi to the falls as it only takes about 10 minutes to get there. There is also a new Jimmy Buffet’s Magaritiville right near the pier with some water activities, but you can only take so much of that. This is another one of our little-known secrets: When visiting Jamaica, we prefer to buy a day-pass at one of the local all-inclusive resorts. Jamaica is well known for an abundance of these resorts because of the warm water and white sandy beaches. It’s worth the price of admission, which will run anywhere from $65 to $85 per person. However, the price includes all water activities (sailing, water skiing, etc), lunch, and alcohol. It’ll cost about $30 for a roundtrip taxi ride to most of the resorts, but you can haggle the price. You can also choose between the nice resorts of Sandals or Couples, or you can go for the wicked, such as Hedonism, or perhaps the upscale resorts such as the Grand Lido Braco, or the Sans Souci Resort & Spa are more to your liking. We prefer the latter. Some are for families and others are for couples only. It’s best to contact them before your cruise and secure your reservations as often they get booked and will not allow day visitors. It also depends on whether your ship arrives in Ocho Rios or Montego Bay as to which resorts are available. On our last visit to Jamaica, we went to the Sans Souci Resort & Spa and it was wonderful. So we decided to take our group there for the day – price was $55 per person. The facilities are absolutely beautiful. It is a couples-only adult resort and therefore is very romantic. As with most of the resorts in Jamaica, there are two beaches; one for the normal folks, and the other is for clothing-optional enthusiasts. This area also has its own clothing-optional pool, bar, and snack bar. Since we were with the kids this trip, we stayed in the normal folks area. No one in the group had ever been sailing, so it became my job to take everyone, one at a time, out for a short sailboat ride. I love sailing, so spending the next several hours on a boat teaching novices how to sail was a labor of love for me. If they weren’t sailing, the youngsters spent their day kneeboarding, paddling around in various water craft, or enjoying themselves in the pool. However, the majority of the day, they spent drinking a wide variety of local concoctions with lots of rum. After sailing, my wife and I chose to get dressed and eat in the main dining room. It was classy and very nice. The buffet had a huge assortment and the food was superb. They also had the traditional Jamaican fare including beef jerky. We had an extremely relaxing day and highly recommend this option instead of the usual overcrowded shore excursions. Comparatively speaking, a typical excursion to the falls will run about $100 per couple, usually with a small lunch, a couple of drinks, and a crowd of people. A trip to Sans Souci will run about $150, including taxi, but will offer a variety of water sports, a beautiful beach, all the alcohol you want to drink, all the fantastic food you care to eat, a very small number of people, and a place to sun your buns, if you’re so inclined. In our opinion, there is no choice – not when you’re on vacation! Following a wonderful day at the resort, we had the taxi driver drop us off at the Taj Mahal shopping area. This is like a strip-mall full of small shops – all selling pretty much the same things. It’s gated, so only the cruise ship passengers are allowed inside. This way you don’t get hassled by the local beggars – of which there are a lot. This is a good place to buy some rum and, as with most alcohol, you can get cheap or expensive rum. The more you pay, the better it is, but they will allow you to try before you buy so you can decide the best for you. My recommendation is the 8-year old rum; it’s smooth, aromatic, and more flavorful, plus it’s less expensive than the 12-year old rum. One of the unfortunate sides of Jamaica is that people will try to sell you marijuana, or ganja as it’s locally called. It is grown everywhere on the island and is one of their biggest cash crops. Obviously, I do not recommend purchasing this illegal drug – and yes, it is illegal in Jamaica even though it’s sold and used openly. The Jamaican government uses undercover police to try and catch the unsuspecting tourist. So you are hereby forewarned as the consequences can be very severe and very expensive. Now for our best advice while in Jamaica: Buy some Jablum (Jamaican Blue Mountain) Coffee!!! In our opinion, it is one of THE best coffees in the world! For the best flavor, buy the whole bean and grind it yourself. The beans are grown in a small part of the island at an altitude of 4,200 feet above sea level and all the beans are still picked by hand. I can’t remember exactly what we paid for a pound, but I think it was around $12. In the U.S. it’ll cost you at least $25 per pound. If nothing else, you should buy at least two pounds; one to try for yourself and one to give me for telling you about it! If that doesn’t strike your fancy, then buy them anyway and I’ll pay you for both of them when you get back. But trust me when I say this is the best coffee you will ever taste. Georgetown, Grand Cayman There’s good news and bad news about Georgetown; it is a beautiful town with a beautiful harbor with crystal clear water. Unfortunately, there’s no pier and everyone has to be tendered to and from the ship. This can lead to some long waiting times both getting off and getting back on the ship. This is probably one of the only ports I would recommend a shore excursion and that is the one to see Stingray City. Some advice about this; first, make sure you go in the morning. When the stingrays hear the boats coming in the morning, it’s like someone ringing a dinner bell. However, because they feast in the morning, they are not as interactive in the afternoon and you miss out on all the fun. The stingrays are extremely docile and playful. Occasionally, they will actually adhere to your body with their mouths and suck on your skin, leaving big ‘hickies’. So if you handle pieces of squid to feed the stingrays, don’t touch other parts of your body. But it’s worth it just to see and pet them. There are usually several shore excursions that include a stop at Stingray City. I highly recommend that you take one that includes a stop there and Coral Gardens. Otherwise, after about 20-30 minutes, you’ll get bored with the stingrays and there’s nothing else to see since it’s a white sanding bottom. If you take the excursion that includes Coral Gardens, you also get to snorkel and see some fantastic coral and beautiful fish. Since we had a group of 10, we contacted Mark Sahagian at Absolute Divers and chartered his boat for our exclusive trip to Stingray City. Cost was $500 for the group and we spent about 3 hours snorkeling and scuba diving. It was an excellent way to spend the day and Mark was an outstanding host. If you prefer, instead of taking a shore excursion, you can walk either north or south of the pier and find scuba shops. They offer snorkeling right there in the harbor in the crystal clear water. Of course, one of the tourist things to do is to go to Hell! That’s right, Grand Cayman is the home of the famous town of Hell. It’s the usual tourist trap, but with a unique twist. You can buy T-shirts saying you’ve been to Hell, or you can send postcards to family or friends letting them know that you finally made it. Following your morning adventure, you can walk around and do what most cruise ship passengers love to do: shop! Grand Cayman is not a cheap place. In fact, it’s one of the more expensive places in the Caribbean, so don’t expect to find any real bargains there. One of the more popular items you’ll see offered everywhere is their famous rum cake. They all offer free samples, so try before you buy as they all different. The Tortuga Rum Cake you see everywhere is not, in my opinion, all that good. There are some local brands that are much better. Another thing you’ll see offered a lot is Tortuga Rum. It’s okay, but I recommend you wait until your stop in Jamaica to buy your rum – better prices and better rum. One important note; you will see a lot of Cuban products for sale, such as the famous Cuban cigars and coffee. Be advised that contrary to what they tell you, you cannot bring Cuban cigars back into the United States! I know one guy who unfortunately listened to the untruths provided by the salesperson and bought a whole box of cigars only to find out after he got on the ship that Customs would confiscate them. He ended up passing them out to everyone on the last night of the cruise to smoke after dinner. Cost him a lot of money to learn that lesson. So, if you have to buy one, only buy one or two to smoke before your cruise ends. After the day is done and it’s time to board the ship, you’ll usually find a long line. Well, the good news is that cattycorner from the dock there is a very nice English pub upstairs. They not only offer excellent libations, but they have a great view of the dock so you can watch the line. Our group drank in air-conditioned comfort while watching this long line of hot sweating passengers wait their turn to board the tenders back to the ship. Gee, now there’s a tough choice: wait in line and sweat or sit in a cool bar and drink beer. The 10 of us were literally on the last tender back to the ship. There is a pier under construction in Grand Cayman, under much objection to the environmentalists. But embarking and disembarking may be much easier in the future. Cozumel, Mexico My wife and I spent a week in Cozumel about 12 years ago and we have visited it several times on various cruises, so we are familiar with the port. We love Cozumel for its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful blue water. We were eating breakfast while we arrived in port and as soon as the ship docked, we immediately grabbed our scuba and snorkel gear and headed for shore. We decided it would be cheaper four our group of 10 to rent a Suburban for $100 as a taxi ride into town was $10 per person each way. We had prearranged to charter a boat just for our group with Deep Blue Divers. We had 4 certified divers, 2 snorkelers, and 4 that wanted to learn how to scuba dive. So we drove into town, took care of paperwork, and then they drove us out to their boat, which was at the main pier in town. The boat was more than adequate for our group and the captain and crew were wonderful. Our first dive was just for the 4 of us who were certified; we went to Palancar Reef where we made a 93’ dive through coral formations. It was absolutely awesome! Cozumel is one of the premier diving locations in the world with water temperature around 84 degrees and visibility up to 200’ at times, and every time I dive there it just keeps getting better and better. While we were diving, everyone else was snorkeling. After we completed our dive, we all got on the boat and headed to a secluded sandy beach. The dive instructor took the 4 beginners, got them all suited up, and taught them the basics of scuba diving. This is called a Resort Course but does not count towards any certification; it’s more of an introduction to the sport. After completing the 45 minute course, we all changed out our tanks as the boat headed to Paradise Reef. The instructor took the 4 beginners to a debt of 35 feet while the 4 of us who were certified headed down to 45 feet for another incredible dive. After about 45 minutes, the beginners headed up, but the rest of us stayed down for about another 15 minutes as we did not want to leave such an amazing world. Reluctantly, we surfaced and the captain took us back to the pier. Note: scuba diving in Cozumel will run about $65 for a two-tank dive, while the Resort Course will cost about $75, plus the cost of a one-tank dive, which is another $35. After completing our diving excursion, we were all hungry, so we decided to head to Carlos’ ‘n Charlie’s. During the ride over, we were extremely disappointed to find that our all-time favorite restaurant, Santiago’s, had closed down. Don’t know if they’ll reopen, but this place was the best kept secret in the entire Caribbean. It’s not a very big place and is about 5 blocks off the beaten path, so it’s not crowded and most tourists don’t know it’s there, especially the cruise ship passengers. We can only hope they will reopen in the near future as it would be disheartening to see them closed forever as Santiago’s is truly the best restaurant I have ever eaten in and I’ve eaten in a lot of restaurants in my life. Note: I have to add here that the best hamburgers, steaks, seafood, fruits, and vegetables that we have ever had in our lives have all been while in Mexico. We lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico for 9 years and during that time we took an annual vacation in San Carlos, Mexico, which is about 6 hours south of Tucson. We spent 2-3 weeks down there every Summer, so trust me when I say that Mexico has fantastic food and should be savored at every opportunity without worry. Anyway, we drove over to the new Carlos’ ‘n Charlie’s, which is now on the main street a few blocks south of their old location. Anyone who’s ever been to Cancun or Cozumel knows that Carlos’ ‘n Charlie’s is THE place to p-a-r-t-y!!! While this new restaurant/bar is large and very nice, it lacks the ambiance of the old place, which was small, crowded, and dirty but it had a certain flair about it. The party is still there and all the cruise ship passengers still go there to have a few too many drinks and let it all hang out! The wife and I made a quick stop at a liquor store to pick up some tequila and when we got to the table, we found the other 8 in our party had already order Yard Long Margaritas! It does not take long to get into the party spirit in this place. After drinking a couple of Dos Equis and a couple of shots of tequila, nobody really cares about how good the food tastes. We ordered enchiladas, which were okay, but you don’t really go there for the food. After spending about $300 for drinks and lunch for 10 people and the obligatory group photo, we decided it was time to head back to the ship before we missed it. Cozumel is an easy island to get around; there’s only one main road that goes in a circle around the south end of the island and then cuts the island in half. You can rent a car for about $50-$85 per day or the preferred method for cruise ship passengers - motor-scooters for about $25 per day (no helmets or special license required). You can rent cars and scooters right at the pier. Compare these prices to $20 for a roundtrip taxi ride to town. But you’ll get the best prices if you reserve ahead of time. If you rent a car, the town of San Miguel is north. But if you head south, the road will take you to Chankanaab National Park. Snorkeling and scuba diving are very nice in the park. I had the best hamburger at the little restaurant. There’s also a wildlife refuge you can walk through. Further south is San Francisco Beach, where there are millions of conch shells on the sea bottom. There’s also a restaurant and bar. You can walk south of the restaurant if you want to find some privacy for topless sunbathing. A little further south, there are some all-inclusive resorts; some of which are very nice. The main road heads east towards the Atlantic Ocean. Once there, you can take a dirt road south to the Punta Celarain Lighthouse. There’s no charge to climb up, but there is usually someone there to convince you otherwise. Yes, it’s a scam, but it’s a great view and we didn’t mind haggling him down to a dollar. On the road down to the lighthouse, there are some beautiful hidden beaches, which are great places to skinny dip in the ocean. Unlike the western side of the island, which has calm sea, the ocean is a beautiful blue with white waves, making it a wonderful place to explore and take pictures. Heading north up the road, you’ll find the occasional restaurant/bar. I highly recommend stopping at all of them as they are usually quite a treat and most are pretty nice with great scenery, as you can see by this picture. We even got to pet a live iguana at the Naked Iguana Restaurant. Eventually, the main road will turn westward. However, there is another dirt road that heads north towards another lighthouse. We saw a sign for a bar ¼ mile up the road, so we ventured up the dirt road and came across a quaint little place. It was a big thatched-roof building with no sides. There was a sign on the post that said, “Air Conditioned.” We parked the car and went in to find Credence Clearwater Revival playing on the 8-track tape player. We sat on the beach, drank a couple of Dos Equis, enjoyed the magnificent view of the beautiful blue water, listened to the waves crashing, and talked with the owner for a while. We had wonderfully relaxing time. There are some Mayan ruins near Cerveza, but they are relatively small compared to the ones on the mainland and the entry fee is a bit overpriced. This brings me to shore excursions. I’m not a big proponent of shore excursions, as we’d rather explore on our own than pay the high prices for prearranged trips that are usually very crowded. For example, all the cruise ships offer trips to places like Tulum, which is a wonderful Mayan temple on the coast. However, they make it seem like it’s an easy and quick trip – it’s not. It takes about 8 hours to make the roundtrip of which only about 1-1/2 hours are actually at the site, the rest of the time is spent getting there and back. I’ve heard from many people who have done this tour and regretted it, so it’s not one I would recommend. A word here about alcohol: It’s generally cheaper than it is in the States, but you have to shop around. The highest prices are at the pier; the lowest prices are at the airport. However, when you board the ship, if you’re carrying any alcohol, they will confiscate the bottle and return it to you on the last night of the cruise. So, here’s a little secret; first, always carry a backpack with you. Second, buy a one liter bottle of water and drink it while you’re walking around town. Third, buy a one liter bottle of clear alcohol (I prefer tequila). Fourth, pour the alcohol in the empty water bottle and carry it out in plain site when you walk onboard. No one will question your bottle of “water”. By the way, just for informational purposes, I’ll offer you advice I got from an old Mexican bartender; the only difference between gold tequila and white tequila is caramel coloring! And there’s not much difference between the advertised brands and the local stuff except the price. But if you want a really good smooth tequila, make sure it says ‘reposado’ on the bottle, which means it’s aged, or ‘anejo’, which means aged even more. One of my personal favorites is Tres Generaciones (Three Generations). It is wonderfully smooth and mellow, but pricey. If you’re looking for a nice gift for someone, this has my highest recommendation. I can offer much more information about Cozumel, but overall it is very safe and is one of our favorite islands in the Caribbean. The Mexican people are friendly and helpful, especially if you at least try to speak some of their language with them. Conclusion As I said in the beginning, this was a wonderful ship for a family or a group; it has something for everybody and there’s always something going on. But then cruises are always what you make them to be. If you want to lay around and do nothing, there’s plenty of that available. On days at sea, I like to just lay on the balcony and read a good book while I smell the warm salt air and listen to the water beat against the hull. Doesn’t take long before naptime overtakes me. The 8 youngsters in our group ranged in age from 17 to 26 and they were never bored. But as we always tell our clients, a cruise is what you make it. Please contact me if you have any questions about anything in this review or if you are interested in taking a cruise.

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Sep 5, 2003

Western Caribbean

This is a Copy of a Letter I sent to the President of the ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINE................ ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINE 1050 Caribbean Way Miami, FL 33132 Attention: Richard D. Fain, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Dear Mr. Fain, My wife and I were passengers on the “Navigator of the Seas” September 6th to the 13th this year, for your 7 day cruise to the Western Caribbean. This was the most impressive ship we have

ever been on. Well, first off, I am not going to “bitch” about your ship or cruise, because we had a grand time. This was our Second time we have cruised on R.C.C.L. and hopefully, not our last time with you. We felt at home on the Navigator and loved the crew. I would like to single out a few people that made our cruise an enjoyable one. Our waiter, of course gets number one praise. His table number xxx, main seating. This man is one of the finest waiters and gentleman I have ever had the pleasure of waiting on me. His personality and professionalism was number one. Also, the Assistant Waiter was second only to the Head Waiter, in her quality of service. They both worked together like a well oiled machine and we at out table, wanted for nothing, because, they saw to it, our wish was their very command. Our cabin steward Dean, room xxxx, was a real jewel. He gave us outstanding service and courtesy. His nightly animal creations were a pleasure to behold when we came back to our cabin each evening. My wife hated to see me use an animal (towel) to dry off at night. We also, would like to give a special thanks to the Staff and Entertainers. The shows and games were first rate. But, there was one thing that dampen our mar-vel-ous cruise. I did not bitch about it on the ship, because I did not want to spoil our vacation on the beautiful Navigator of the Seas. We booked our cruise on your ship a few months ago, and the room we selected, was a Promenade View Stateroom. But, after a few weeks, we were looking in your 2003-2004 Booklet, at the “Deluxe Ocean View Stateroom” you pictured on page 71. We ask our Travel Agent (AAA) to up grade us to this very room. We were assign a “DB” category room number 7620 as/per pictured in the book. But, upon arrival, we found we were not in the room that was pictured in your book, but a smaller stateroom. We found out later that the room pictured in your Booklet was a category “C” not the “DA/DB” described in your book. We were very disappointed and hurt, to think that a class act cruise line like you, would resort to a “Bait and Switch’” CON, to sell rooms on your ship. We have sailed over 20 times in the past and never experienced anything as crooked as this. We plan on having many more cruises in the future, But you left us with, a disappointing cruise, because of your greed. I do hope you will correct this problem, so future passengers will not have the disappointment we had. You should do the right thing. Sincerely, R & M

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Aug 22, 2003

Western Caribbean

I booked my family of four and my mother to travel on the Navigator of the Seas. We have two sons, 15 and 9 So a ship that provided a wide variety of activities for all ages was crucial. The Navigator has a 22,000 square foot area designated for their Adventure Ocean program. Our flight landed early Saturday morning into Miami. We collected our bags and were escorted out to the waiting motor coach for transfer to the pier. Once at the

pier, we were instructed to wait until the bags had been off-loaded and then to send one party out to identify our bags and make sure the porter loaded them all onto a cart. This process was a bit confusing and remember to take along several single dollar bills as the porters and bus drivers look for tips. Once inside the terminal and through security, the next step is check-in. The computers were slow that day and that made the process a bit longer. But no major issues. Boarding the ship went rather quickly for the number of passengers. We were on board by 100pm. Found our staterooms easily and then found our way to the Windjammer Cafe for the buffet lunch. The cafe was crowded as everyone had the same idea at the same time. But we were able to find a table and enjoy our lunch. We purchased the fountain cards for the children immediately-it really comes in handy for those kids that prefer soft drinks. The ship was wonderful! Public areas were tastefully decorated and easily accessible. The "blue car" on Promenade Deck 5 made a perfect meeting spot as did the library on Deck 7. My 9 year old had the layout of the ship down by the 2nd day. The Champagne Bar was a peaceful place to enjoy a cocktail pre-dinner and Boleros was a jammin' latin bar apres-dinner! There was no room on the dance floor and people were dancing in the walkways. It was fun to watch those that could really salsa. The Connoisseur Club was a favorite of my husband's for a cigar and cognac after dinner. The ventillation system was not quite as good as Celebrity's Michaels Club, however, but not overpowering. The food in the main dining room was very good. We ate in Portofino's and Chops Grille one night each. Definitely worth the $20PP service fee. Food was awesome and service was personalized and special. In Chops when my husband excused himself to the restroom, the waiter came and took his plate to keep it warm until he returned. The Captain visited each table that night. A pleasant surprise. My 9 year old truly enjoyed the self service ice cream station on Deck 5-frequenting the stand SEVERAL times per day. Activities: Both children enjoyed the rock climbing wall and miniature golf. My husband and I made good use of the fitness center. The equipment was state of the art and they had enough cardio pieces to go around. The fitness center was busier in the early morning than in the afternoon-just in case you don't like crowds. They offered a large variety of classes with instruction as well. Entertainment seems to be never ending from street-like performers on the Promenade to the production shows in the theatre to the ice show in Studio B to the quiet lounges with piano music or string quartets. We enjoyed every venue we attended. The ice show was very good. The Russian skater with the hula-hoops was phenomenal. She received a standing ovation. Bingo was very popular as on any ship. The final jackpot was over $7000 won by one person! Guess he had a great cruise. We found the Solarium Pool (adults only) our favorite spot on deck. It was quiet and the chairs cushioned. The main pool was just through the sliding doors and we could easily go back and forth to check on the kids. The main pool offered music and all the wild poolside activities like the belly flop contest and the horse races. We had a balcony stateroom at the back of the ship and we loved it! The hallway was wide and uncrowded, there was no through traffic and very little noise from either passengers or engines. And the views were beautiful. My mother and son shared an atrium cabin. They enjoyed being able to view all the action on the Promenade deck and even viewed the parades from there. A perfect spot. Our ports of call were: Labadee, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We snorkeled on Labadee, rode horses in Ocho Rios, window shopped in Grand Cayman and swam with the dolphins in Cozumel. Weather was hot, it poured in Cozumel-but we didn't complain-we were on vacation! Disembarkation went surprisingly fast. We had no issues with immigration or luggage. Unfortunately we were whisked away to the airport for our return home. Overall, we had a wonderful trip. The ship was beautiful and so many people commented on how beautiful she was especially when moored next to a Carnival ship. We were never at a lack for anything to do. Even though we did not participate in everything-it was there if we wanted it. I had heard so many complaints about people waiting in lines. We found none of that other than in the Cafe for the buffet lunch on the first day. We had no lines for golf, rock climbing, for disembarking in port or for the shows, etc. and the ship was near full capacity. The food overall was very good. In the main dining room, if we selected something we didn't care for, we ordered something else. The alternative dining rooms were wonderful. We found the crew friendly and helpful. The shows were very good and a variety was offered for all tastes. Public spaces were beautiful and plentiful so you never felt overwhelmed by other passengers. We would sail on the Navigator of the Seas or any of her sister ships in a heartbeat. It was a great choice for a family. Bon Voyage!

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By Jack_CR

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Jul 25, 2003

Western Caribbean

We just got back from the Western Caribbean Cruise of the Navigator of the Seas. Our sail date was July 26, 2003 - Aug. 2,2003, stopping in Labadee, Ochio Rios(Jamaica), Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. Note that our only previous cruise experience was on the Disney Cruise Line (2 cruises). Here are our comments: Food: More than enough. The quality was excellent everywhere on board. Some people commented that the food in the Windjammer (buffet)

was the same every day. Well, if you have 36 different things to choose from, who cares? You still cannot eat everything. There is more than enough variety to eat, so that you would not get bored. Drinks/ Bar.. Everything that comes from a bar, including minibars (in the cabins), sodas and unlimited soda drink cards) gets an automatic 15% gratuity tacked onto it. Another thing is that you are constantly bombarded by waiters asking you if you want a drink. We are very light drinkers and being asked 6-7 times in the 30 minutes before a dinner show seemed excessive. Same around the pool areas. Shows: These were more variety shows where there were jugglers, comedians and singers/dancers as opposed to a semi or pre-Broadway production (as was the case on Disney). There was a large group from a professional society and a lot of the entertainment seemed tailored for them. The ICE Show should not be missed, because it was fantastic. Also, the parade on the Promenade Mall was very good. Embarkation/Debarkation: Relatively smooth getting on the ship, due to the fact we bought bus transfers from Royal Caribbean and they pre-boarded us on the bus ride to the port. Also, the transfers cost about the same as a taxi. At the end of the cruise the hold up was US customs, but it was not too bad. Some of the ports seemed rough outside the shopping areas which were close to the dock. Ochios Rios and Cozumel had armed guards around the shopping areas (I am not sure i f that made us feel better or worse). Overall, the ship was beautiful, the staff was excellent, and the cost of the cruise was worth it. However, the extras that you buy on the ship can add up and figure on 300+ per person per week, not counting gratuities. I would give this 4 stars. With some minor tweaks, it could be 5 stars....

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Jun 20, 2003

Eastern Caribbean

This was our seventh cruise, fifth with Royal Caribbean. It is difficult to describe the Navigator, but in a word....spectacular comes to mind. Royal Caribbean has outdone itself. We traveled on June 21st. to the Eastern Caribbean. It has been two years since our last trip and there are some differences since we last cruised. The days of depositing luggage with the airline and having bags arrive in your cabin are gone. We thought this

would be a problem, but it wasn't really a big deal. Surprisingly, embarkation moves quite swiftly, even with all of the new security in place and getting 3000 passengers and their luggage on board. We arrived at the pier at about 11:10, passengers began boarding at 11:30 and we dropped off our carry-ons in our cabin by 12:15. Boarding passes now carry a digital photo of every passenger, so the feeling of safety is comforting. The ship itself is amazing. There are so many things to do onboard that it is literally impossible to do everything. We thought that the design of a ship this big would be imposing, but all areas on the ship have the feeling of intimacy. Nothing feels large. All of the bars, cafes, lounges and deck space feel small. There are deck chair everywhere and we never had a problem finding spots. We enjoyed the varied entertainment in each lounge. Previous ships had the main show lounge and one additional lounge for dancing and entertainment. Because of that, they always felt crowded. Not so on the Navigator. All the lounges were busy, but comfortable. We found the food service to be still up to Royal Caribbean's standards.....great! The menus have changed since we sailed last. This was a nice surprise because on our other four Royal Caribbean trips, everything was basically the same. We swore that on this ship we would never pay extra to eat in one of the specialty restaurants, but we couldn't control ourselves when we looked at the menu at Portofino. We didn't think $20 per person was a big enough hurdle to hold us back, and be were not disappointed. It was the high point of our trip. The food was spectacular, the service was first class, and it was nice to have a more quiet, peaceful setting for one night. We have been to the four ports before, so we knew what to expect everywhere. A few thoughts about the ports, though. Nassau on Sunday was a disappointment. Most everything is closed in Nassau on Sunday. Also being in port until only 2:00 didn't leave much time to hit a beach. If I could redesign this itinerary in any way, it would be dropping Nassau all together. Then maybe a full day could be spent in San Juan. We have been to San Juan and find it fascinating. Leaving San Juan much later would be far more entertaining. St. Thomas is wonderful. There is so much to do that no one goes away unhappy. The best stop....Labadee. We can't go there too many times. It is more wonderful than ever. All in all, we loved this trip. We are already beginning to think about the next one!!

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Jun 20, 2003

Western Caribbean

The cruise we went on was a family cruise. There were 16 of us in our group, and before I begin, I will say that we had a wonderful time. I will include all aspects of the cruise from landing at the airport to returning to the airport, and tell the good parts and bad parts. Airport Arrival and Pier Transfer - We flew into Fort Lauderdale airport (cheaper) and purchased the transfers from RCCL. When we got our luggage, we were directed

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

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Jun 20, 2003

Western Caribbean

On the plus side: 1. The ship is the smoothest sailing ship we have been on. 2. The entertainment was great, and the KRUZ KOMICS were hilarious especially when they volunteered a member of the audience to participate. 3. Johnny Rockets, a fifties style hamburger restaurant is a definite must. The waiters and waitresses are dressed like in the fifties with white uniforms and cap; they have nickel juke boxes at each table and counter.

You are given nickels to use to play music from the fifties to the eighties. On the minus side: 1. Embarkation took us 1 hour, which was alleviated by one of the comics on board dressed like a hillbilly in overalls and bucked teeth and a rubber chicken. At first he looked like someone with a few screws loose, but kept everyone amused. 2. The main meals require more choices for people who cannot have creamy sauces or require dietary considerations. They do have a couple of alternates on the menu. 3. If you are traveling with a large group and book with different travel agents, they were not accommodating in placing our family together even though we had requested that everyone wished to be seated together. This was a reunion for us as we had not seen each other in 4 years; they were unwilling to speak with the persons at a larger table that had empty seats, where people never showed up. 4. If you are looking for things to do other than the sports activities, pool side games as on other ships we have been on were virtually non existent, there was a belly flop competition which we missed. If you like bingo, this was very scarce. 5. Every ship that we were on had an elaborate midnight buffet, I believe we had only 3 nights for a buffet, and it was not as large as others. Ports of call: Labadee, Ocho Rios, Georgetown, Cozumel. Our most favorite ports were Cozumel and Georgetown. Out of all the islands that we have ever visited Cozumel has the most spectacular waters that I have ever seen. Standing on the peers you could see the fish swimming on the ocean floor, the water looked like pool water. We had taken a taxi ride around the island, the driver stopped a few places along the way for us to take pictures or shop, we stopped at one beach that had coral rocks to climb and look at the roaring waves coming in crashing into the rocks and spraying into the air. This is definitely a million dollar view that I wish I could have taken home with me.

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Mar 29, 2003

Eastern Caribbean

Before going on this past cruise on the Navigator of the Seas I read as many reviews on this ship as I could. There just didn’t seem to be enough information out there on it. I would like to share with you a few of the details of the ship as I saw them. A lot has been written about the specific areas so I won’t go into a lot of details about them with the exception of the Adventure Ocean program. I would like to go into detail about this program

because this was my biggest concern before we left and I had a thousand questions about it. Adventure Ocean – Explorers Studio B to introduce us to the counselors and they told a little bit about the program. At 8:15 we could go up to the Explorer room and sign our kids up for the program and they stayed to watch a Volcano explode. When you sign your kids up they give them a name badge that they put back on the ribbons when you check them out. They let them pick a silly nickname to go on it as well. Each of the counselors has a silly nickname such as, Lollypop Lisa, Ewok Elizabeth, Grasshopper, Aladdin, etc. This is a great way for the kids to remember their names. They also are to go over and “park” their shoes in the parking area. When you sign your kids in each time you sign each child in with their name and you give them your room number and indicate whether or not they can sign themselves out or not and who can pick them up. They guard the door very well and you can’t inter the room without catching the attention of one of the counselors. When you come back to pick up your kids you sign the paper and they mark them off. In the beginning they may ask you for identification if they don’t recognize you. The counselors have a great deal of control over the kids. They handle things firmly but fairly. I was impressed by the way they did this. I was wondering how only 2 or 3 counselors could control a room full of kids but they do. And they do it very well. They don’t allow cheating and they don’t hesitate to stop a game when the kids are getting out of control. My kids (who have never been left with strangers) had a wonderful time in the Adventure Ocean program. They never wanted to be with us and were always asking when they could go back to the kid’s area. I felt like this was their vacation and we were just tagging along. With the evening turndown the kids received an Explorer Compass for the next day’s activities. Be sure to tell your room steward that you’ll need one because sometimes they forget or don’t know that you have kids. My daughter would go over the next day’s activities and tell us the things she didn’t want to miss. The Explorer room is separated by the 3-5 year old room by a net stretched out across the room. On the 3-5 year old side there is a bathroom with 2 stalls. They are required to tell a counselor that they need to go to the bathroom and they are told to take someone with them that is they same sex. I insisted that if my daughter had to go to the bathroom that she take her brother or visa versa. They had no problem with that since they were siblings. Every time you sign your kids participate in a program they will receive a coupon with one point on it. They collect these points and turn them in at the end of the cruise for prizes. My kids each had 13 which gave them 1 coupon for the scrapbook and an Adventure Ocean T-shirt. There is also an after hours party. This is from 10pm to 1am. There is a charge of $5 per hour per child. Personally I felt that this was a worthwhile cost. We never got up and about in time for the morning program so my kids always wanted to go to the after hour program to make up for lost time. They really do a great job of entertaining them during this time. They could just sit them down in from of the TV with pillows but they don’t. They actively try to entertain them. They play Gaga-ball, BINGO, Connect 4, Basketball, Foosball etc. My kids never wanted to leave. Another fear that I had was how they would deal with an emergency. We bought walkie talkies and had my daughter put one in her fanny pack. She was to call us if she needed something. On the first day we thought we would hear from her often but didn’t hear from her at all. In fact she asked if she could leave it off until she needed us. I just felt better knowing that she could reach us if she needed to. Come to find out, the walkie talkies didn’t work very far. It would work fine from deck 12 to our cabin on deck 10 but that’s all. We came back to pick up the kids one night to find out that my son had been hit in the nose by something or someone accidentally and he had a bloody nose. According to the counselor my daughter was more upset than my son because she couldn’t reach us and she knew that she was supposed to call me. I felt terrible about it but the counselors did a great job fixing my son up and the kids convinced my daughter that my son would be ok and got her to go play with them. The counselor told me right away about it when I came to pick up my kids. They are required to write a report about it as well. For this reason I wish they would issue pagers to all the parents. The counselors are not included in the tip recommendations but we felt that they deserved a tip more than anyone else onboard. They should be given more recognition by the cruise staff for they did a phenomenal job. We wanted to tip them but felt awkward asking them how to do it. We spoke to the manager of the program and she said that they put all tips in a pool and split it evenly amongst the 14 counselors. We asked another counselor from another age group and she said the same thing. I have heard people say to tip them with alcohol but personally I disagree. Give them money and let them choose what they want to do with it. Who doesn’t like money? Odds and Ends We bought 2 children’s soda cards and 1 adult soda card totally about $86. Personally, I don’t think this was worth it. It sounds easy and convenient but, the bartenders seem a little put out giving you a soda because they don’t get a tip each time. They fill the cups which seem no bigger than about 12 -16 oz with ice then fill them with watered down soda. Your choice is either Sprite or Coke. That’s it unless you go to Johnny Rockets. Johnny Rockets has the best choices for soda and they give you much bigger glasses. I don’t think we got $86 worth or soda. Next time I would just bring it along and put it in the mini fridge or just buy it by the can. They said that there were 800 children onboard during our sailing, 400 of which were teenagers. Honestly, it didn’t seem crowded with kids. I saw a lot of teenagers around but I’m not sure where the 400 other kids were. I saw a lot of those teens and pre-teens at Johnny Rockets. Some of them seemed a bit young to be going to a restaurant alone and ordering food. But that’s just me. The pool deck I read in many reviews that deck chairs were hard to come by. I didn’t find this to be so at all. There were always chairs available. Even on sea days. The pools were cold and salty. My kids weren’t impressed by it at all. It was rarely crowded. Most of the time though it was covered by a net and drained because of the bad seas. It was throwing huge waves on the pool deck most of the time. Johnny Rockets They had great food and we never had to long of a wait to get in. They close the outside portion of the restaurant at 5pm though. When you go inside they bring you a plate of both onion rings and French fries along with catsup and ranch sauce. Yum. They also bring you nickels to play the music. It never seemed to play our songs though. I guess too many songs were put in from everyone else. The music is fun though. I enjoyed everything I had. Be sure to bring Maalox if you plan on having the chili. The grilled cheese was wonderful. The chicken club sandwich was made with real chicken breast. The hot dogs are Nathan’s brand hot dogs which mean quality. The shakes were good but not as wonderful as what I read about. They are about $4 each. Royal Promenade We spent more time on the Royal Promenade than I thought we would. You have to go through there in order to get to many places on the other end of the ship. Sprinkles is a little soft serve ice-cream spot next to Ben and Jerry’s. We couldn’t pass by it with out getting one to go. We didn’t feel the need to try Ben & Jerry’s because the Sprinkles ice-cream was very good. Next to Ben & Jerry’s is a bar then the Café Promenade. This is where you can get sandwiches, pizza, and dessert. The pizza was a little spicy for me but my kids and husband liked it. Personally, I liked the cheesecake and cookies. We went here a lot after the kids program ended to get a snack on the way up to the room. There is also a coffee, tea, and hot chocolate area there. Windjammer Don’t let the Windjammer discourage you on the first day. I was so nervous in there the first day for lunch. It seemed like all 3,000 passengers were in there. After the first day, everyone seems to find their place and disappear. It didn’t seem crowded after that. If you want to eat in the Windjammer on the last day before you leave make sure you go early to get a seat. It was very hard to find a table when we went down at 9am. Final thoughts Lastly, I would have to recommend that everyone find a place to call your own. Even though we had a balcony room it was nice to find a place on the ship that we could retreat to that was “our spot”. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any further questions. Blessings, Karyn

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Mar 8, 2003

Western Caribbean

This was my third cruise aboard a RCCL ship (pretty good considering I’m 19) and my first on a Voyager/ Eagle class ship. I have previously have sailed on Vision of the Seas in Alaska in 1999 and aboard Grandeur of the Seas in 2002 where I sailed to the Mexican Rivera. Both of these itineraries I highly recommend to anyone going on a cruise but I am here to talk about my very enjoyable spring break cruise to the Western Caribbean so here

it goes. EMBAKATION Coming from Toronto on one of the biggest travel days of the year in Canada made this process very UN enjoyable for the six of us coming on this trip who were my mom, dad, me and three family friends because we had to be at the airport at 4:30am plus we had to stop for an hour in New York. A good 11 hours later we finally arrived at the port of Miami and the line was huge! But is moved faster than I expected which was about 30-45 minutes. When we finally did check we were given the wrong dinner seating and there was a room mix-up (which may seem like hell but wasn’t too bad). When we finally did get on the ship we had to spend another 20 minutes to do the muster drill. After being on two previous cruises this was less than impressive but it did manage to get better quickly. THE BAD PARTS OF THE CRUISE Once we got all our problems solved we met my uncle and aunt who were cruising with us (they live in Miami so they weren’t as tired as us) and we went on to get coke stickers for me and two of my family friends which gives unlimited coke, sprite, etc. for $20, for children this is a must. We all decided to eat and since it was so late the Windjammer café welcome aboard lunch was finished so the bartender recommended Johnny Rockets or café promenade (I’ll talk about these later in the review). We decided to go to Johnny Rockets, which was a mistake because it was packed and took forever. However after this was over with we got unpacked and it was time to explore. OUR ROOM Our stateroom was a deck 2-ocean view stateroom and for anyone who hasn’t cruised before the rooms might seem small but they are sufficient considering how much time you will spend in it. However we had 4 people in our room and it was crowded (they’re really only meant for 2 people). Rooms on higher decks might be more appealing but the advantage to being on a lower deck is that there is less movement when the ship is in motion. THE SHIP When we first began to explore the ship it’s immense size was a bit intimidating but we got used to it rather quickly and there is some very amazing features and places which is nearly impossible to see all in a week, here is a list of the some I visited. Royal Promenade – This is basically meant to mimic a city street, it is four stories high and about 2 football fields long connecting the ships two centrums. It consists of several shops a café with one of many ice cream stations that are located thought the ship and a place where you can get food 24/7, the café also has a bar but it isn’t open all the time. There is usually some kind of event such as the captain’s cocktail party or a parade going on daily here (the first night there was a Mardi Gras type parade). The Sports Deck – This is located on the top deck of the ship behind the Viking crown lounge and it consisted of the rock climbing wall, the basketball/volleyball court, the mini-golf course, golf simulator, and inline-skating track. The mini-golf and basketball were open play except when tournaments were being held (note. basketball or volleyball were open play at different times of the day). The rock-climbing wall was open all day with demonstrations every hour and kids under 18 needed a waiver signed by there parents. The in-line track was open for anyone during the day but a waiver also had to be signed for this like the rock-climbing wall. The golf simulator, which I didn’t use was reservation only and costs $25 an hour. The pool area and Solarium – These areas are really nice on the voyager class ships. The solarium contains a pool, two large spas and several lounge chairs. There is also a bar here. Note. People over 16 are only allowed in the solarium. The main pool area is for everyone and there are 2 pools and 4 spas 2 big 2 small. Lounge chairs surround the pool area and there are two bars here one on the pool deck and one on the deck above which is the sun deck where there are lounge chairs and the jogging track. Adventure Ocean Youth Center – Because of the size of this ship this area was quite impressive with a quite large arcade that featured video games which was interest any kid. There was also an area where anyone between 3 and 17 could relax and hang out. The teen disco which was also here was called “Fuel” and is larger than it is on vision class ships and what was cool about this disco was that it had a small outdoor area for teens to hang out at the back of the ship. Studio B and Center Ice – I must admit that an ice rink on a cruise ship is totally ingenious and also because that it is usually about 80 degrees outside makes it even more so. However I only managed to skate on the rink once because it really isn’t appealing in the tropics. The ice show was very good and I highly recommend it but the skaters are by no means Olympic quality. I only say this because I am warning everybody not to expect a Michelle Kwan level of skill.An interesting thing about Studio B is that a retractable wall can cover the rink and many other shows like the farewell show are held here. Skating is offered during the day but children must be accompanied by someone 18 or over. The Dungeon Nightclub – This was a very different experience compared to older ships where the adult disco is held in the Viking Crown Lounge. I have to say that having the club on the lower decks is much better than at the top of the ship (it was on decks 3 &4) because it connects easier with the rest of the ship. Anyway the dungeon was much bigger with more seats for people to relax (like you really can in a club) and the dance floor was bigger. The club had two decks with a bar and an overview of the dance floor on the upper deck. The lower floor had another bar, the dance floor and the lounge area. The architecture was generally good with the club being decorated with skeletons and gargoyles. What I didn’t like was that the stairs blocked the dance floor from the lounge area so the dance floor couldn’t be seen that well from some places. The Casino – This is probably the biggest one at sea and it ran underneath the promenade with a staircase connecting the two. The casino was well designed with the tables on one side and the slot machines on the other being separated by a bar and the staircase connecting it to the Royal Promenade. Games available were Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Roulette, Craps and various slot machines. The Ixtapta Lounge and Metropolis Theatre – These areas were the same as other RCCL ships but there were just larger and could hold more people. The Viking Crown Lounge – This area is at the highest point on all RCCL ships and it is the easiest way to identify one. However on a Voyager class ship they are far different from other ships because it contains much more. First of all this lounge has a sports bar called the 19th hole, a jazz club, a martini bar, a card room called Seven hearts and a wedding chapel that holds about 50 people. From what I’ve heard is that after a wedding the lounge is closed off to people on the ship so the reception can be held there. THE FOOD For anyone who had cruised before they already know how easy it is to eat a lot on the ship. Navigators of the Seas along with many new ships have several alternate dining options other than just the Windjammer Café and the main dining room. This ship contains 3 other restaurants and 1 buffet and they are as follows. Jade – A buffet adjacent to the Windjammer specializing in Asian cuisine. Portofino – For a $20 dollar reservation fee people could have an intimate Italian dining experience. I heard that this place was out of this world but we didn’t really want to pay money when we could eat in the dining room for free. Chops grille- A steakhouse that you can eat at for a $20 reservation fee and we didn’t eat here for the same reason we didn’t eat at Portofino. Johnny Rockets - This was a 50’s diner where you could get old-fashioned milkshakes (these are not free) and grilled hamburgers plus other things that I will leave for you to figure out. In all this place is not half bad just don’t go there on the first day because it will probably be over crowded. The Service in the dining room was very good and except for a small wine issue there wasn’t really be anything to complain about and the food was typical of my previous cruises both here and in the Windjammer, which is far better than anything you can’t get at most land restaurants. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment on this cruise was generally good but the Broadway style shows didn’t appeal to me probably because they’re meant for the middle-aged audience. However I highly recommend any of the stand-up comedy shows in which there is usually 3 to 4 on each cruise, also at least once of the nights there is a band playing out on the pool deck late at night in which the cruise staff usually organize a dance theme (also this band usually plays periodically during the day at the pool deck). My other recommendations are the ice show as well as Bingo especially in the latter days of the cruise where the jackpot is usually 5 figures. PORTS OF CALL Labadee, Haiti – This is a small island off the northwest coast of Haiti and it is for RCCL guests only. There is plenty to do here such as parasailing, beach volleyball, wave running, banana boats, or you can simply just relax on the beach or rent a water mat and relax on the water. There is also an aqua park where they can play on trampolines, teeter-totters, and clime icebergs in the water Kids are welcome to play here but waiver must be signed. I highly recommend this because it is very fun. Lunch is served on the island and it is ok, but the food on the ship is better. I don’t recommend however going into the shops because the locals will try and hustle you to buy their merchandise. Ocho Rios, Jamaica – This was the best stop of the four on the itinerary and I highly recommend climbing Dunn’s River either independently or with the cruise line. We did it by ourselves because several of the people in our group have climbed it before and if you climb it as an excursion then everyone holds hands and they all go at the same pace. Note it is absolutely necessary to have aqua shoes to climb the falls, which you can rent or buy at the falls, or they can be bought on the ship as well either way they cost about the same at about $20 US. Afterwards if you have time I recommend going to Margaritaville and the surrounding shops that are the best here than any other port and Margaritaville has a huge party atmosphere that must not be missed. Georgetown, Grand Cayman – Here we didn’t go on any excursions and all we did was to seven-mile beach and relax. Also the beach was very crowded because there were 5 ships there that day and just about everywhere was crowded making this more of a place to relax more than any other. Cozumel, Mexico – This is a very good place to party and shop it you don’t plan to go on any excursions. I highly recommend taking a taxi into town and if you don’t have any young kids going to either Senior Frogs or Carlos and Charlie’s which are both bar’s/restaurants and have a very huge party atmosphere, just be warned especially at Senior frogs because they’ll pressure you into shots that may seem free but they’ll charge you for them and they cost about $3.50 US (this might be because it was spring break though) and there was a lot of students on the cruise ships and probably a bit at the Cozumel all-inclusives. TIPPING Although not mandatory you are asked to tip specific individuals at the end of the week for their hard work as giving the best vacation possible. Envelopes will be dropped off in your stateroom halfway through the trip with suggested amounts and they are: Stateroom Attendant - $3.50 per guest per day Main waiter - $3.50 per guest per day Assistant waiter - $2 per guest per day Headwaiter – At your discretion Maitre’d – At your discretion Tips can either be charged to your sea passes or you can put cash in the envelopes. DISEMBAKATION This was a very smooth process compared to my previous cruises the port of Miami knows what they’re doing to make this an easy process compared to other ports. Forms will be left in your room asking for flight information along with US immigration forms. Your flight information determines what color tag your receive and a pamphlet is given to each room with the time each color will be called. If the color given to you is wrong change it at either the purser’s desk or ask your stateroom attendant for a different color. Remember to have your luggage outside your room door by midnight the night before Disembarkation and that you haven’t packed anything you need in your suitcases as you will not see them until you’re off the ship. MY TIPS FOR FIRST TIME CRUISERS - If possible, cruise with a group of people such as relatives or family friends. This makes the experience a whole lot more fun because I find it easier to meet people as a group than as an individual. - Buy the unlimited coke sticker for $20 if you bring your kids! I only suggest this because a soft drink costs $2 and after a weeklong cruise they will spend much much more than $20 on soda I guarantee it. - Don’t let the first day ruin the rest of the cruise. I only say this because the ship’s crew has only about 12 hours to get 3,000 people off the ship with their luggage, get 3,000 more people on with luggage, and load all the supplies they will need for the week. The crew is swamped so if mishaps occur be patient and they will be taken care of in good time. - If it is possible to do so fly to the city of departure the day before the sail date and spend the night in a hotel before boarding the ship and also do the same thing when getting off and leave the following day. This will go a long way to making the most out of your cruise by avoiding huge rushes of people getting on the ship on day 1 and getting of it on the last day. - Book excursions early! They fill up fast, however the voyager class ships allow you to book them through your TV to avoid lineups. - If you lose your sea pass go to the pursers desk immediately to get a new one. One of the people cruising with us lost his and by the time he got a new one there was a $40 arcade charge on it that we had to pay for. - Buying liquor on the ship might seem like a deal and it is but there is a catch. The cruise line will hold it until the last night of the cruise and then deliver it to your stateroom. If you wish to drink the liquor on the ship they will charge about $10 extra making it no longer a deal. They will do the same thing to you if you buy it port as well. However if the liquor is clear and colorless water bottles come in handy here to be able to bring it on the ship without paying a service charge (wink, wink) In all the experience of cruising had led to the best vacations of my life up to this point. Royal Caribbean International knows how to make their cruises like no vacation on earth (which is their slogan). If you embrace a cruise and make it what it can be you will be hooked and want to go again and again. I know this because it has happened to me and honestly what other vacation can you have where you go to sleep after visiting one country and wake up and the ship in docked in another country. All-inclusives might cost less than a cruise but they don’t go anywhere and a cruise ship does. I hope you enjoyed this review and if your have any questions just e-mail me. Happy Cruising!

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Dec 8, 2002

Western Caribbean

This was my very first RCI cruise. I had an ok cruise. The cabin steward was very nice, and I had a very good waiter. The food in the dining room was horrible, and there wasn't any lobster night. The buffet also didn't have a big choice, and the food was the same throughout the whole cruise. There was Johnny Rockets, and that was good. Most of the crew were nice, but I always felt like I was just another passenger, not an honored guest

like I do on Princess. I also thought that I was always stuck in a crowd, especially when getting on the tenders to go ashore. Destinations- Labadee, One of the worst days of the cruise. It was a horibble day, and I didn't need all of the people in the shops to keep on begging me to buy something. Ocho Rios, Was a very nice place to stay, good beaches. Grand Cayman, the best day of the cruise. I went to Stingray City, and had a great time. Cozumel, I stayed on the ship. Embarkation-It took forever, and then finally we got past check-in, and then we had to wait in a huge line for security! The Room-we had and inside cabin at the rear of deck 7. Cabin #7437 It was really hard to find the cabin, and I didn't like being stuck in the middle of the ship. I wouldn't recommend going on this ship. I would recommend Golden, Star, or Caribbean Princess for the Caribbean.

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Apr 22, 2002

Cozumel MX , Ocho Rios JM, Labadee HT ,

I woke up the morning of my cruise excited and anxious to get on. While driving over the bridge to get to the port you see her... the beautiful "Navigator of the Seas". It was fairly effortless to get through the port and on to the ship, even though there was maximum security because of SARS. Once on the ship, you're greeted by a wonderful Centrum and a great staff which directs you to your cabin. when I got to the cabin I

as very surprised. they're extremely roomy yet cozy at the same time. I was also very impressed by the 24 hour room service (which is ordered through the TV, using your remote control)

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

We are cruise addicts, averaging about 4 cruises a year. January, we were on the Explorer of the Seas and in May we were on the Voyager of the Seas and just left on August 30th on The Navigator of the Seas. The Navigator is even nicer than her sister ships (Explorer & Voyager) in beauty. The ship is magnificent. The service in this ship is excellent. The crew and staff were friendly and accommodating and made us feel very much at home. The

quality of the food was a little disappointing and very mediocre, however the service was outstanding. The Windjammer particularly needs to improve, especially at the omelet station at breakfast. It's too congested and needs to have it's own island as the Explorer & Voyager have. The Jade buffet was a very nice touch and Johnny Rockets was outstanding. We would have to rate this cruise from a 1 to 10 a definite 8. The other disappointment was the production shows, however the paid entertainment that were hired were excellent. The singers were screamers, loud was their only volume and the productions just lacked in entertainment. The cruise director, Jeffrey Arpin, has to be the best cruise director in the entire cruising fleet. He was marvelous and very entertaining. We really enjoyed him as he was a first rate stand-up comic and had the audience enthralled. The ports of the call, with the exception of Nassau, were good. Nassau should be eliminated, especially docking on a Sunday, where most stores are closed and we’re only there until 2 pm, which leaves little time for exploring. Overall we give Royal Caribbean an outstanding for trying and making our trip enjoyable and we recommend the Navigator to all who are considering the ship. You will not regret sailing on this ship. We are looking forward to our next cruise on Royal Caribbean.

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS Western Caribbean, Jan. 25th -- Feb. 1st, 2003 By Vincent N. & Mary Finelli This was our 12th RCI cruise and our 4th on a Voyager (Eagle) Class ship, having sailed on all Navigator's sister ships: the Voyager, the Explorer and the Adventure of the Seas. The Navigator is the "spitting image" of the other three; in fact, berthed in the Port of Miami next to the Explorer, she could only be differentiated by

her name. Even though, the Navigator is 1,000 tons bigger, thus making it the largest cruise ship afloat, the increase in size is only due to larger balconies, a difference not easily discerned. We eagerly anticipate each new cruise experience and this voyage on the Navigator was one to remember, not only for the wonders of a new ship, but also to visit once again with old friends and make new acquaintances. Captain Leif Otto Bang commands a bright, eager to please staff with Hotel Manager Raimund Gschieder orchestrating the superb service. Cruise Director Jeffrey Arpin sets the pace for a lively and enjoyable time aboard, and Chief Purser Jorge Lynch makes sure all sails smoothly (more about these integral men later). The Navigator of the Seas is quickly located in port, just look for the BIGGEST. This time we saw the twin biggest! (Docked one after the other were the Navigator and the Explorer.) The aqua blue glass superstructure and the almost all glass exterior with the Crown & Anchor atop are the identifying characteristics. Be prepared to literally look down upon other ships in ports of call, since, this ship is tall: We did dwarf the Nordic Empress and enjoyed an aerial view of her in Cozumel. She is one of the older and the smallest of RCI's fleet, but quite charming with her gigantic Chess Board Game on deck and vestiges of former glory. Captain Bang speaks fondly of her. It was an advantage to have sailed on the Navigator's sister ships and be familiar with her deck plan; comparisons and differences quickly become obvious. The Navigator's decor is elegant. There is nothing glitzy about her (no glaring neon or overly decorated areas). She is outfitted beautifully with fine woods, cleverly carved and in interesting combinations. We enjoyed her stunning grandiosity and stylish simplicity with attention to detail, a perfect combination of "beauty & practicality." EMBARKATION As Diamond Members of RCI Crown & Anchor Society, we know well the hospitality RCI so warmly extends to repeat cruisers. Boarding was simple, since a special lounge is set up for members with seating, refreshments and a priority check-in. We arrived at the port 12:30pm and, with a minimum of security checks, were on board by 1:00pm. We went immediately to the dining room to check on our table assignment and saw a familiar face, Asst. Maitre D' Apolo Coelho who arranged for a table for two, then we were off to the buffet - - a very nice spread! THE SHIP This 650 million dollar wonder took 18 months to build; she is 1,020 feet in length; tonnage of 139,000 tons; cruising speed of 22 knots; she can accommodate 3,835 guests (this voyage had 3,400) in her 1,557 rooms on board. Her crew numbers 1,256 and all of this on a ship with a draft of only 28 feet! These are staggering statistics, but all soon to be surpassed by the already under construction Queen Mary II by Cunard Line (150,000 tons), and the race to bigger and better cruise ships keeps on going. A hint to cruisers: Whenever on board a large ship, it is best to pick up a the deck plan early. Deck 2 forward has the ground floor of the Metropolitan Theater, the Conference Center and Category I ocean view staterooms. Deck 3 forward is the main level of the Metropolitan Theater, midship is the Centrum with Kirkland's Aquatica," reminiscent of his other works on the Voyager and Adventure, a 5 deck high suspended bubble sculpture, best seen from below as the artist first conceived it. Moving toward aft is the first floor of the Dungeon Nightclub decorated with gargoyles, shields, halberds and stain glass windows. Midship is the Studio B Entertainment Complex, with the Ice Rink and Interactive TV Studio, a stage and three bar stations. In the aft is the first level of the three tier dining room, the "Nutcracker." Category H ocean view cabins complete this deck. Decks 4 & 5 are Public Areas only. Deck 4, the Promenade Deck, forward holds the balcony of the Metropolitan, a well-designed multilevel theater with elegant simplicity, except for the strikingly ornate curtain which depicts a dancing girl in various poses. Going midship is the Schooner Bar with its traditional odor of ropes, items of ship memorabilia and, by now, the familiar Ebbing collages of sails and sailor's knots framed with brass portholes. Next is the entrance to the second level of the Dungeon, flanked by two snarling life size guard dogs made by Ridgeway Sculpture of fiber glass resin, but very bronze looking. Inside is the Dungeon's Balcony, where the portraits of the "Executioner" and the "Executioner's Wife" (observe her hands!) can be admired. Midship is the Casino Royale with a New Orleans Jazz motif (nice and roomy not jammed with slots). Aft is the gorgeous Bolero Bar with its gigantic glass flowers by Zsiba-Smolover studio (USA), whose work we remembered from the Grandeur. Very nice to just sit or stroll around or up the glass and chrome staircase to Deck 5. Aft is the second dining room level, the "Coppelia." Deck 5 forward is the outside prow, accessible from the side exits of the Mayan style Ixtapa Lounge or the Connoisseur Club (Cigar Bar with wood, leather, smoke, love seats and arm chairs and a Black Jack Dealer table). Midship is the Royal Promenade: An exclusive feature of these voyager class ships. This is a 5 deck high Euro style street, connecting the forward and aft centrums, boasts Bars, Boutiques, Sidewalk Cafe`, etc., etc....This atrium, longer than a football field, is comparable to a town center, where people stroll by, sit at sidewalk cafes, eating ice cream, or just watching the performances of jugglers, mimes or musicians. It definitely is the heartbeat of the ship. An eye catcher here is the blue restored Type 35 Bugatti (by the Norwegian Greve). All the way aft is the third level of the dining room, the "Swan Lake." The three levels are linked by a huge, curvy, arched staircase with the focal point being a bronze statue of a ballerina "en pointe" ready to jete` off --- very nice. The colors of these rooms are beautiful from deep blues to celestial blues, from pale gold to warm burgundy and all complemented by an impressive central chandelier (cleaned with a "cherry picker") and the many hemispherical chandeliers surrounding the open center of the rooms. Antiqued mirrors on the walls reflecting the many crystals and lights created optical illusions as when the chandelier behind our table appeared to have blue crystals. Elegant rooms like these need little or no ornamentation. Indeed, we feel that the collage style portraits of dancers were an unnecessary addition to these rooms, they didn't enhance the beauty, rather they detracted it. Instead, by contrast, the authentic beaded costumes (of Clara and Captain Kracko from the "Nutcracker") displayed at the entrance foyers truly added to the ambiance. Decks 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10 are mostly devoted to staterooms and suites, the majority of which have balconies. There are twenty-six wheelchair accessible staterooms, sixteen have ocean view (ten with balconies), nine inside and one with bay windows overlooking the Royal Promenade. Additional attractions on these decks are the following: Business Services(6), Library (7), Internet Hub (8) and finally the Concierge Club (9), an elegant room with an amazing collection of Amazonian Indian feathered headdresses (Kayapiz, Rio Xingu & Tapirape tribes are represented). The Concierge Roy Ellis can do anything you can do . . . . only better and faster! Decks 11, 12, 13, 14 & 15 are again public areas. Deck 11 forward has the Shipshape Fitness Center & Spa with machines galore and a wonderful hydromassage pool. Outside, in the Solarium, there are two huge whirlpools and a salt water lap pool - - - go early, 8:00-9:00am and the place is all yours. This Solarium is artfully decorated with beautiful horses, reminiscent of the Explorer, from the Barsanti Studios (Italy) and a lovely life size Venus of white Carrara marble stands at the steps to the pool. The enameled resin flags from the Palio of Siena were unnecessary and more of a distraction than enhancement; similarly, Parkinson's still life mosaics (fruit, wine and foods) would have been more at home in the Windjammer than out here. This whole area is made truly beautiful by amazing live plants including topiaries and miniature heather in bloom. The Barsanti mosaics depicting the Tuscan hills are excellent, especially in their perspective from an artistic point of view. Midship on this deck is the main pool area with two swimming pools, four whirlpools and plenty of deck chairs for sun bathers. Toward aft there are the two specialty restaurants, Chops Grille (portside) and Portofino (starboard) where upscale dining with impeccable service is available for a nominal fee ($20). Close by is Jade (Asian fusion or Pacific Rim cuisine), a novelty for RCI. Finally, the Windjammer completes this area of many dining options with numerous buffet stations helping to reduce lines. We have heard that this is the preferred style of eating for most cruisers; however, we still like to sit down in the dining room and be served at the table. Many cruisers commented on the interesting use of wood and clean lines throughout the ship. In fact, this is most evident in the Chops Grille, where we admired a quiet dark wood paneled room with a stunning magnolia tree in its center. We dined there as guests of the knowledgeable General Manager Raimund Gschnaider, who was helpful in sharing ship details with us. Cruise Director Jeffrey Arpin (witty, urbane and clever) rounded out our group. This alternative dining option is a definite must: veal chops, Boston Clam Chowder and Mississippi Mud Pie prove that passengers on cruises should never diet. The excellent dinner and the pleasant company made the evening for us. Thank you Raimund, thank you Jeffrey for the interesting conversation and a great evening! Deck 12 is a haven for exercisers, since forward is the upper level of the fitness center, midship are the Sky Bar and the jogging track, and the whole rear of this deck is devoted to teenagers: Disco Fuel, the Living Room, Club Ocean, and an open air Back Deck (complete with with four huge prickly pear cacti). The demographics of RCI passengers with an average age in the forties ensures that this area is well utilized since many families are onboard with children of all ages. All having fun! This is where Johnny Rockets is found, the 50's diner all decked out in red naugahyde and chrome. It's a great place for a lunch of excellent chili, hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, ice cream floats and shakes, and that good old fashioned Rock 'n Roll. Look for the Slovakian cousins (real cousins!) Roman Lucko and Adrian Holka. They served, sang, danced and charmed their way into our hearts: Juke box magic! Deck 13 aft has the 200 feet above sea rock climbing wall, a sports court, an in-line skating track, a sun bathing area, and a nine hole mini golf course "The Navigator Dunes." Deck 14 forward has the Viking Crown Lounge, high above the ship, it offers the best views of the ocean and the sports deck below. Here are located the card room, Crow's Nest, the Cosmopolitan Jazz Club and the 19th Hole Bar. In the Corridor leading to the Cosmopolitan is a gallery with Gottlieb's photo prints on glass of the great ones: Louis Armstrong, Ella Fizgerald, Charlie Parker, etc. In the area outside the 19th Hole Bar there are the funniest caricatures aboard --- overlooking the basketball court, are two larger than life size figures, a tourist couple in all their "unathletic" glory, the "Beloved Passengers" by Daddona (American). Picture this: flowered shorts, striped shirts, bulging paunches, very entertaining! Actually this is the best view of the Sports deck, standing alongside these two characters. Deck 15 holds only the Skylight Chapel. The closest thing to heaven on board. It seats 60 and is often utilized for weddings. FOOD & SERVICE The food on board the Navigator is similar to that on all RCI ships. This line has reached a high level of homogeneity or equality of fare among the ships. Cruisers can be sure that the offerings and quality, designed for American palate, are tempting. Meats are exceptional and served as ordered, say "medium rare" and that's what comes! Portions are regular, not too large or too small; however, we still could do with less, so many times we share to avoid wasting food. General Manager Raimund Gschaider explained the new and more stringent innovations of the Outbreak Prevention Program (OPP) and about some of the additional sanitary precautions being taken to avoid transmitting any infection brought on board. For instance breadbaskets are no longer placed on tables; instead, the bread is served with tongs by a waiter. Dining room staff and other crew no longer shake hands with passengers; they politely apologize that stringent rules are for safety of all. Ice buckets are no longer placed automatically in staterooms; however, if you ask for one, it will come "hot" from the sterilizer with fresh ice. Ill passengers are isolated immediately to avoid any possibility of transmission. Common areas, door handles, elevator buttons, rest rooms etc. are constantly being sanitized. At dinner with Captain Bang, we joked about the necessity for "Elevator Etiquette," like standing aside to allow passengers off; moreover, in these days of Norfolk virus, we also need Sanitary Etiquette," like covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing. Passengers need to wash their hands often as a protection for both themselves and others! Whatever new procedures RCI has implemented, they seem to be working. We found the food to be presented neatly and appealingly - - - - salads were crisp, soups were hot, and entrees cooked perfectly. However, the best meal on board was at Captain Bang's table. Mary, seated on the Captain's left, had ample opportunity to ask questions and he proved to be both intelligent and jovial. The Captain had spent most of the 18 months it took to build the Navigator at the Kvaerner Masa Shipyards in Turko, Finland. He knows his ship intimately. The conversation with the Captain and the other guests at the table made this a very enjoyable dining experience. We were also pleased to have at the table Ms. Debbie Nylund, an RCI Environmental Officer, whom we had previously met on the Radiance. Vincent enjoyed once again chatting with her about environmental activities aboard ships and other interesting topics. Mary asked the Captain: Since the Navigator, after all, is the largest cruise ship afloat, and carries over (what some captains still refer to as) 5,000 SOULS, how does he sleep at night under all that pressure? He answered simply, "I sleep like a baby. It is 'trust' which allows me to do so. I know my bridge mates personally and for many years. I have the utmost confidence that whether I am on the bridge or in bed every regulation and procedure is followed strictly." We slept well that night, too! We had a terrific meal of Sun Ripened Pineapple Delight, House salad of escarole and oakleaf lettuce, and vine ripened yellow tomatoes (with Florida orange dressing), Lobster Tail Royale (with garlic butter, paella rice and broccoli florets), which Vincent pronounced "Excellent!" Mary opted for the Rosemary Roasted Chicken (aujus, with pearl onions and polenta fingers) all exceptional. Desserts are great on RCI, and this meal was no exception: An Almond Meringue with Tutti Frutti or the soufflé from the main menu. Delicious! Service at the Captain's table was top notch by Asst. Maitre D' Apolo. Every evening we had prompt service at our table for two, #423, in the Coppelia Dining Room. Head Waiter Christopher Renford kept a close eye on everything and our Waiter Koray Baysal was affable and quick. His Asst. Waiter Antonio Gordon has a good teacher and is learning the ropes. Service all over the ship was excellent. We used Room Service for breakfast every morning and it was friendly, accurate and quick. CABIN We had booked stateroom #7600, but we received our third upgrade in thirty-three cruises to #1268, a Category B Suite, thanks to the friendly Chief Purser Jorge Lynch. It was lovely, and contributed to making this cruise unforgettable. When entering on the left there is a full bath with double sink, tub/shower (granite, marble and tile abound) Look for a mosaic of the "Wind God." Next there is a desk/vanity, a queen size bed with nightstands in a drapery enclosed alcove and a large screen interactive TV. When entering on the right there are four mirrored armoires, a full Bar Island with refrigerator, dining area, large coffee table, hide-a-bed sofa, lamp table and two upholstered barrel chairs. The far wall is windows to the oversized balcony and the sea. The draperies and linen in this room are quite nice: heavy woven brocades in blues and gold. There were three framed silk screens of cymbidium orchids and narcissus on the walls. Our first steward seemed a bit distracted; we later found out he was ill. His replacement Marvin was terrific. The opportunity for a simplified method of tipping the service staff is great. We had the recommended amounts charged to our account and, on the final evening, envelopes and vouchers were delivered to our room. Yet, we always feel free to tip on a daily basis anyone who is helpful and we added cash to the prepared vouchers; after all, excellent service deserves a reward! ENTERTAINMENT The heart and soul of a ship, as Captain Bang explains, are the people on board. The daily COMPASS is the best guide to activities, and the Navigator has more fun opportunities than any other ship. Cruise Director Jeffrey Arpin has a huge assignment and he executes it with aplomb. He is funny, friendly, and fast on his feet since he travels between so many venues - - - keeping all the balls up in the air. This ship is a "destination in itself." Sports, dancing, music and spectacular shows nightly. The Navigator, like her sister ships, boasts of her ice shows, and she should: "Ice Dancin," with Violetta & Peter Dack and the International Ice Cast lived up to the publicity: EXCELLENT! The regular shows with comedians Rodney Johnson and James Stephens III and the production shows by the RCI Orchestra, singers and dancers are quite good. Perhaps the most memorable single act was the "Duo Iouvilov," a combination of dancing and acrobatics. We didn't think those positions were possible! If passengers prefer to rest in their stateroom, many of these attractions are shown on their cabin's TV. PORTS OF CALL As frequent Caribbean cruisers, we have seen all of these ports many times over, but every cruise is different and the dynamics are always changing. The weather can change plans, but when on vacation it's best to go with the flow. Sunday: Sea Day. Monday: Labadee, Haiti Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 4:00pm Tuesday: Ochos Rios, Jamaica Canceled due to high seas Wednesday: Grand Cayman Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 4:00pm Thursday: Cozumel, Mexico Arrival: 10:00am Departure: 7:00pm (delayed for 30 late passengers) Friday: Sea Day CONCLUSION The more we cruise, the more intrigued we are by the artwork on each ship. Suddenly, we are more interested in what differentiates one ship from another and what gives each ship her "personality." We admire unique pieces of art and frequently recognize recurring themes from ship to ship, especially on those within the same class, e.g. the Voyager class. On recent cruises, we made a point of visiting each ship from top to bottom (or vice versa), to see and enjoy her art collection; it is like Art Appreciation 101 or maybe 102. But it gives us pleasure and we are improving at recognizing common characteristics and styles of certain artists whose artwork is frequently present on various ships of the same cruise line. Sometime the names are not easily remembered, but once identified, we can recalled them as authors of other pieces on other ships. We were told that the art collection on the Navigator costs $ 8.5 million. Surely, she can be compared to a nice art museum. We enjoy cruising, especially on new ships. The smell of new, the desire of seeing, feeling and comparing the new ambiance with that of other ships are the reasons for booking cruises early on the ships'inaugural season (or voyage). We are ready to book cruises on both the Serenade and on the Mariner for this coming fall; however, we have already booked three cruises on RCI ships, two in May on the Grandeur (back-to-back, transatlantic and Baltic Capitals), and a family reunion in October on the Explorer (Western Caribbean). It'll be nice to revisit both ships; it will be our third and fourth cruise on the Grandeur and our second on the Explorer. It looks like this will be for us another year of intensive cruising. Happy Cruising!

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

I can't believe my dream vacation is over now. I had planned this vacation for over a year, keep checking prices and infos frequently to build up my excitement. Now the vacation is over, and it is my turn to put my memories into word to remember my moments. 1/10/2003 (Fri) PRE Cruise stay---We flew from cold Boston to Miami day early to ensure no cancellations nor delays on our cruise. We stayed at Doubletree Biscayne Bay next to Marriott

Biscayne bay in Downtown. For 1 night pre cruise stay, it was fine. Room was huge with marina view and I could watch Navigator docked at the pier. We went to Bayside Market for some shoppings and dinning. For the price I paid through Hotwire, $53, it was nice way to start a vacation. 1/11/2003 (Sat) EMBARKATION---I wake up early to catch sunrise and Navigator docked at the pier. After we had breakfast at Starbucks downstairs (inside small deli), we grab a taxi to pier. We are at the pier around 1030am. Since the ship was still Debarking from previous cruise, we had to wait about 1 hour. Once we get to an agent, it was very quick and we were in our cabin by Noon. We grabbed lunch at Windjammer, and start to check out the ship. SHIP---Navigator is a beautiful ship. All the public areas, Royal Promenade, Dining room to Pool area, it was tastefully done. CABIN---9690 Aft corner cabin. I made a reservation based on all the recommendations from fellow cruisers. And yes, they are absolutely right. It felt very small after we had a huge hotel room, but as the day goes by, we start to feel it is just right. All the space has used perfectly and everything was accommodating. What can I say about Balcony? Wonderful!! The perfect place to have a room service, take a sun without fighting over the chair at pool deck, and we had a best seat to check out the views of each port. Although it is smaller than next cabin 9692, due to it's triangular shape, it was very private. Only people who can peek in is 9692, and it is not visible from above unless standing right by the railing. I asked my cabin attendant, Lisette to bring us bathrobes and lounge chair which she brought us right away. There is a porthole window which you can sit in because it is pretty deep. One thing is because it has single door with a handle, it needs something like a chair or table to keep it open. And while the door is open, it is very dangerous (and heavy) to open cabin door because it creates a strong stream. All in all, I loved this cabin so much! ACTIVITIES---We had a master drill at 430pm. Then we head out to our balcony for sail away. There was a Bon Voyage parade in Promenade. There were so much to do. DINING TABLE---We were worried because we had a small table assigned. I am happy to say it was wasting of our time to worry. Our tablemates Kenny and Carole from Buffalo, NY were the best companions we could ever asked for. They have such a good sense of humor and kept us laughing all the time. It was one of our favorite activity on board! Everyday we had a great conversation. 1/12/2003(Sun) AT SEA // My Birthday---We enjoyed on board activities today. We did mini golf, spent some time at swimming pool, and played Scrabbles at Seven Hearts game room. There was an ice skate show, and it was phenomenal. Beautiful costumes with amazing talent! Since this was a first formal night, we head back to our room to change. Many people were making lines to take formal photos and so we did. We had a great meal at Dining with Kenny and Carole. While we were having a dessert, one old lady behind our table had a birthday cake with a song by waiters. Then Carole asked me "When is your Birthday?" I said, "as a matter of fact, TODAY!!" So, she bought me a shot in a red metallic glass from bar waiter to celebrate my 30th. Sure enough, my husband talked to our waiter to bring me a cake also behind my back and I have received one, too. It was a great day to mark my 30th. 1/13/2003(Mon) AT SEA // SAN JUAN---We basically had another sea day since we didn't arrive until 4pm. We have been to san Juan before, so we just strolled around old San Juan and went to Fort Morro area. It was already dark, so we head back to ship and relaxed until dinner. 1/14/2003(Tue) ST. MAARTEN---Beautiful day at scenic port. There were Disney Magic, Golden Princess and Radiance at port. We took a excursion tour to Orient Beach by "Beach Rendezvous." They provided us a comfortable transfer bus and reserved deck chair plus lunch at restaurant. We had a choice of port rib, chicken and fish and took fish plate. But fish was too dried and did not have a taste. Waitress came over and she changed to chicken plate which was very tasty and good. The beach was beautiful with emerald green warm Caribbean water. We had unpleasant shower twice while at beach, but it didn't ruin our day. After that, we went to Phillipsburg to check some stores and saw Everything Cool beach. The water is much nicer at Orient beach, but it had a fun atmosphere at Everything cool. After a day on the beach we were so hungry and couldn't wait for our dinner, so we decided to go to Johnny Rockets. We ate and had a yummy milk shake and felt so sleepy at 730pm...Alas, we woke up at 11pm and realized we have missed a dinner. 1/15/2003(Wed) ST.THOMAS---Another day in Paradise. Because we stopped non-U.S. port yesterday, everyone had to go through an immigration at designated area for US citizen or non-US citizen. We had a BOB excursion tour starts 730am, we had a quick breakfast at our balcony and left room at 7am for immigration. Not many people were there yet, it took us 3 minutes to get our passports back. BOB excursion was a good alternative to us since we usually snorkel or laying on the beach. It had a motor underwater scooter which you can operate with button and handle for maximum of 3 miles/hr speed. There were 30 of us on the boat for this excursion and it was divided to 6 groups. We were the last ones to do BOB, so we did snorkeling first about 1 hour. There were so many staff divers and swimmers around us, so never felt unsafe. And view from my own motor was amazing. Fish looks very tiny and right in front of me through the glass. We were under water about 20 minutes and it was great. After an excursion, we head back to ship for lunch and took a tram to Paradise point for a beautiful view of the island. At the dinner, we had a long and good conversation because we've missed each other the day before. It was a wonderful day. 1/16/2003(Thu) AT SEA---Now we are heading back to Miami. We stayed on our sunny balcony to take sun for a while. Enjoyed some on board activities and relaxed. 1/17/2003(Fri) BAHAMAS---We arrived Nassau around Noon. It was a pleasant temperature around upper 70's, but still chilly to swim. The view entering to Nassau harbor was absolutely beautiful from our aft balcony. We saw the light house and Atlantis resort perfectly. We decided to go to check out famous Atlantis resort in Paradise island. We took a water taxi for $6/p.p round trip. After we spend about 2 hours at resort, we head back to Straw market right near the pier. We did some shopping there and return back to ship for last night dinner. It was very sad to pack our suit case to leave. 1/18/2003(Sat) DEBARKATION // KEY WEST---When I woke up at 7am, we were already at port of Miami. Temperature in Miami was COLD! We were having a freezing day in Miami around 50's. After we debark the ship, we called Enterprise rent a car to pick us up at pier, and drove a car to Key west. It took us almost 4 hours to get there with traffic due to long weekend. We checked-in at Hyatt Key west for 2 nights and they gave us a lovely partial ocean view room. The room was huge with deep bath tub. We walked around Duval street and had some good Seafood dinner. 1/19/2003(Sun) KEY WEST---Finally, the sun was back! Although it was still chilly side around 60's, great deal of sun shine made the day. We saw Disney Magic and Carnival cruise at the pier, so the town was pretty crowded. We went to Southernmost Point, Hemmingway's house and Duval street shopping before the famous Sunset celebration starts at Mallory Square. There were so many different street performers doing their own shows and everyone waited until the sunset. The sunset was gorgeous! 1/20/2003(Mon) Back Home---This was the last day before heading back home. We drove back to Miami Airport in about 3 hours. When we get back home in Boston, the temperature was freezing..in 10's. Wish I could go back! I wish your Cruise vacation will bring you lots of wonderful memories as I had. You can check out some of the pictures, http://community.webshots.com/user/marinecruiser Thanks for reading my story. Marine

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Nov 30, -0001

Trans-Atlantic

This was a very enjoyable cruise, well worth the money we spent. Will we be doing another cruise, you better believe it, and will we choose Royal Caribbean, most defiantly yes, they tick all the right boxes for me. I can't really do a review without mentioning the food. Overall it was really good. The choice within the Windjammer is amazing, if you can't find something you like you must be a very picky eater. Somethings could have been hotter.

I do feel like people behave extremely badly and can be very rude within the Windjammer. Pushing in when queues have been formed, loading plates up like all the food is going to run out. I've always subscribed to you can go up as many time as you like, don't waste good food. We ate every night in the main restaurant, and there wasn't a night gone by that I couldn't find something to eat. The steak was always done the way I like it. I never walked away thinking hmm I need more to eat. In fact most nights I thought that was a lovely meal, and I don't have to do the dishes. Background There was 5 of us on this cruise, myself, my wife and 18 year old daughter, plus my in-laws. This was our 5 cruise and third Trans-Atlantic cruise. We had a outside stateroom on deck 2 mid ship and my in-laws had a balcony stateroom on deck 6. Travelling & Embarkation We travelled from Edinburgh to Barcelona via London City airport. It was a very early start with a 6:30 flight out of Edinburgh, but we all seemed to get up with spring in out step as it was holiday time. We arrived in Barcelona at 12:30 and were met just outside baggage collection by the RCI rep, who pointed us in the right direction of porters; this was the last we saw out luggage until we were on the ship. There was a short 20 min bus ride to the port where we were sped through the check in process. Having now attained Platinum status we were very lucky to join a very short queue and within 30-40 mins we were on the ship. After a getting slightly lost, we found our stateroom which was still in the process of getting ready. Sammy our stateroom attendant met us, what a nice guy. Nothing was a problem for him, and always seemed to be smiling as we met him coming and going. The Ship & Crew Having been on both the Mariner and Explorer; we all had a basic idea of the layout so it didn't take us long to to figure out where everything was. We knew that the Windjammer was going to busy so we headed for the Promenade Cafe on deck 5 for a few snacks. The ship it's self is still looking like it just came out the dock. Everywhere we looked someone was polishing or cleaning something. We can't praise the staff and crew highly enough, everyone we passed in the corridors had a smile or a nod to acknowledge we were there. I'll give a special mention to our Waiter, Judith and her assistant (who for the life of me I can't remember his name), plus Ray our Head Waiter, honestly the best Head Waiter we've ever had. Normally in the past we've found they only show face, smile and move on, but this guy took the time to speak to all of us. We would regularly meet him in the Windjammer always taking the time to chat. I'll also mention the bar tenders we got friendly with. Richard in the Theatre, who only after the second night knew what we were all drinking. One more was in Vintages (and I'm truly sorry I never got his name). Again he knew what I was drinking and before my bum was on the seat he was over handing me my drink, now that's service. At this point I'll mention our Cruise Director and his staff, Kieron Buffrey was for me just about right. Not in your face and subtle, which I don't think went down well with our American friends. Once again thank to the CD staff who after my wife wrote to Kieron arrange for my daughter to do a backstage tour as she is studying stage management and lighting in the theatre at collage. He had a great partner in Cuddy who managed to bounce off Kieron just nicely. I hope he makes a CD in the future. For me the only cloud on the silver lining was Captain Bang, for us he was as dully as dish water. His daily announcement were tedious, all we seemed to here was hear was his name then a became garbled with long periods of silence. I'm sure in person he's a very interesting person but on the stage of pubic speaking a small improvement is needed. Ports We didn't have many ports of call on this cruise, which is one of the reasons we choose it. The first up was Cartagena in Spain. The ship had never been docked here before so it was bit of an adventure for guest and crew alike. We did manage to get on an open top bus trip for 13 euros each, taking about an hour for the tour. Very nice and condensed city full of naval history. After the tour we took a stroll up to the shops. After 2 days at sea we arrived at the port of Ponta Delgada in the Azores, where we had 16 hours to kill. We've never organized a tour via the ship as we can normally find something to do. With this port we really struggled. The tourist information desk should be done under the trade descriptions as they weren't helpful at all, telling us most of the buses were off or broken. So we had to fend for ourselves. The town it's self is very compact and we managed to wander through the small streets taking in the all the sites and sounds. After returning to the ship for some lunch and a change we went back off the ship and struck lucky. It seemed we were there on the day all the Christmas lights were being switched on. It truly magical place, full of marching bands, Santa and kids playing. Our last stop came after 6 days at seas and we arrived in the port of Nassau in the Bahamas. After a small delay waiting for another ship to dock we got off and headed for the hotel Atlantis. Having been to Nassau in the past we knew where to go and how to get there so no time was wasted. We wandered round the hotel checking out the aquarium and casino, then headed back to the main town for a drink at the local Hard Rock Cafe. It was then back to the ship and prepare for the big off load at Fort Lauderdale the next morning. The Sea Days As I've said before we choose this cruise because of the amount of days at sea, which for us the most relaxing time you can have. In total out of the 12 days 8 of them were spent at sea. The only down side to this was the weather wasn't the most favourable, it was warm but for the most part overcast. To say the sea was lumpy would be a small understatement, for at least 2 days it was pretty rough, so much so when we looked our stateroom window it wasn't unusual to see the sea hitting it. We did spend this time doing all the stuff around the playing golf and roller blading and ice skating etc. The rough waters didn't stop us have a great time; sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth. We were just lucky on all the port days the sun was shinning. Entertainment This was a real mixed bag for us. We though the RCI dancers done a good job working under the conditions they do. However some of the star turns were a bit poor. Darren Day was really bad and never seemed to connect with the audience. Brenda Cochran tried very hard and has some real talent but I don't think the theatre was big enough for her voice. The real star turn was Mr Nobody (Yacov Noy). His three legged man was just classic. We did manage to see 3 showings of the Ice Dancing and we all still watch with open mouths how these people to do the things they do. With leaps, jumps and back flips it's all very cool. We just managed to stand up on the ice when the ship was moving all over the place how they do it is beyond me. Disembarkation We were very lucky that managed to be one of the last one off the ship, and also being Platinum member we had access to the our own waiting area, which was in the restaurant on deck 4. This made for a more pleasant experience than sitting in the theatre. By the time we got off the ship there were only a few cases left in the hall so we could spot our luggage without any problem. Clearing immigration was only a problem as some people seemed think it was a good idea to fill in their green cards when they arrived at them immigration officer. On the whole we were on our way to the airport within an hour from getting off the ship.

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Nov 30, -0001

Ocho Rios and Georgtown

This was our first cruise. Loved it!! Can't wait to do it again. This is the only vacation that I have ever had that I really wasn't ready to go home. After talking to many others on the cruise, Royal Caribbean was the favorite. I was convinced. I find no reason to cruise on a different cruise line as long as Royal Caribbean keeps up the good work. I was impressed with the service, as well as the friendliness of all work staff. You just can't

miss the excursion to Sting Ray City in the Grand Caymans. This was our most memorable/enjoyable part of the trip. Everything was great-not one complaint. There certainly was no shortage of food. The buffet was much better than the typical buffet. With regard to the dining room dinner service, the service was top notch. Gilberto was our waiter. It felt as if I knew him for years. It made me sad to leave him. His service was fun, friendly, in addition to being "high class". The dining room is definitely better than eating in the buffet. If you can't decide between 2 entrees, they will bring you both (or more if you want it). I had steak 2 of the 5 nights. They weren't as big as you may find in a traditional restaurant, but you can always have more. I recommend ordering the steaks rarer than you would like. They are not real thick and can easily be overcooked. Lobster night was awesome. I had 2 tails. On guy at our table had 3 tails and prime rib (you'll be suprised that he was not overweight). Our table had a barrel of fun just watching him enjoy his food. The key lime pie served in the dining room was the best I ever had. You can eat healthy too, if you just have the willpower to pass up some of the more fattening options. The stateroom was very nice. There was a suprising amount of storage space. You could even put your suitcases under the bed (which often can't be done at most hotels). We had a balcony room. Even if you don't spend a lot of time in your room, the balcony is a nice feature to have. It was roomier than I would have expected on a cruiseship. The onboard activities were plentiful. The only problem I ran into was that many of the things I wanted to do conflicted with one another (so I missed out on some). The comedy shows were really good, as well as the ice show. The broadway style shows were just "so-so". Turtle Farm and Sting Ray City in Grand Caymans were great. They are a must do. The tour guide was very good. He stopped at the rum cake factory for a short visit. We also visited "hell" (which was somewhat different than I expected)-not many people around "hell" so I guess that was actually a good thing. Ocho Rios, Jamaica-I was glad to say that I was there, but have no desire to go back. The people bug you to death-in particular for a taxi ride. I was told not to take a taxi ride with any of them. We did the dolphin touch excursion. It was nice, but not as nice as the excursion in the Grand Caymans. Dunn's River falls was a very beautiful place to visit. Watch out for Jamaican's that "give you something" such as a welcome to Dunn's river necklace or bottled water an then "hit" you up for some $. By the time this is all said and done, you have the necklace on and have opened the water. After that experience, I wouldn't touch anything that someone tried to "give" to me. As mentioned before, this was our first cruise. Can't wait to go back. I'll definitely book with Royal Caribbean, but will probably skip Jamaica the next time around.

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

The cruise went pretty well considering it was my first ever. The Navigator of the Seas amazed me the first time I saw it. The long lines to get into the ship did too, but since my grandma was elderly, we quickly passed all the lines. I also learned that all my expenses were charged through the seapass card, so I didn’t have to worry about carrying money around. My cabin was 9475, an inside one. The first couple of days I had trouble

finding it, but once utilizing the maps placed everywhere, I found it easily. What impressed the most was the street that ran through the ship. The Royal Promenade had shops, cafes, and windows, which gave me the impression of a small street. It was so realistic, including the high roof, giving it a town atmosphere. To entertain myself, I did many things. The “Living Room”, which was a lounge for teens, was a hotspot for me. Another good thing about it was that the internet access was half the price of the RC online café. When I needed exercise, the sports deck was my answer. A basketball court, mini-golf course, rock wall and inline skating rink fed that hunger. The only bad thing was that I needed socks and my parents to do the last two. If you wanted to swim, the pool deck would answer your call with two pools and Jacuzzis. If I wanted to dance, Fuel and the Dungeon were two places to go, but could only stay in the former till 11 PM. The arcade and my cabin are probably the other places I would go to. I also had a personal itinerary since I was a teen and had various things to do aboard the ship. The service on the ship was excellent. While being given excellent service, the people were also very friendly. Our stateroom attendant was Beverly, from Jamaica, and she was friendly to talk to. Sam, our headwaiter from Thailand, and Erik, our assistant from Trinidad and Tobago, were also polite and friendly. I learned that those people earned fifty dollars a month, so the reason they were being polite and friendly was for gratuity, not out of pride. For food, it was the Windjammer, Café Promenade, or the main dining hall. The food in the Windjammer had a great selection, but some of it was not that great (i.e., wet scrambled eggs). I only ate once in the Café Promenade, and the pizza was okay. The main dining hall had good food, but not great. The desserts were excellent there, though. Another thing that I liked was the various spots of ice cream stations. After dinner, the normal routine for me would be to travel with my parents to the Metropolis Theatre. Almost every night I went there to watch the show. Graham Seymour, or whatever the cruise director’s name was, is a very good comedian. The shows are spectacular, considering that you are on a ship. The Beatles’ imitation band, Beatlemania, performed one night at the Theatre. An ice rink is also in Studio B if you want to watch the ice shows. Unfortunately, I could not participate in some activities, such as gambling in the Casino. Honestly, it was cheaper than the arcade. The second day was a day for me to explore the ship. I was also introduced to the teen lounge and met some people. I also tried out the rock wall, but didn’t make it. It was just a day for me to explore the giant ship. Our first port of call, Labadee, was owned by RC. It was a long stretch of beach with white sand and crystal clear water. The locals were eager to help the tourists, hoping for some gratuities, carrying chairs. One side of the beach had rough waves, while the other was calm. We traveled to the aqua park area, where RC had a BBQ for the passengers. The aqua park had a small fee of $15, and a giant slide with another fee. The aqua park was good, except for all the jellyfish that stung. I never went to the market after hearing how desperate they wear to sell, grabbing tourists. The tremendously high prices are also there since the locals are hoping to bag someone foolish enough to pay those prices since their economy is so low. The only other thing that was bad was it the hot weather. In Ocho Rios, Jamaica, it was not a good experience. We decided to go on a Dunn’s Falls and Dolphin Cove excursion. The Dunn’s Falls were good, but we had to rent a pair of water shoes for $5 and a locker for $8. The locals also aggressively told us we had no pressure to buy their stuff. After that, we headed to Dolphin Cove; where we sat and watched the dolphins do tricks in very hot weather. The shopping mall also was a bit high. We arrived in the Cayman Islands the next day. The excursion was a semi submarine, which was okay. The coral weren’t that pretty as other places I have been to. After that, my family and I went shopping around the city. It was a pretty good port. Once we arrived in Mexico the next day, we went on a ferry to Playa del Carmen in the mainland. Just to let you know, the guards there were carrying M-16 assault rifles. Our destination was the Tulum ruins, and we took a bus from there for an hour ride with a tourist stop. Once we arrived in the park, the roads weren’t that well contained and stunk because of the swamp right next to it. We took a trolley instead of walking in the hot sun for a quarter mile to get to the entrance of the ruins. I didn’t enjoy the trip since it was so hot, but if you like ruins and stuff, go for it. After taking the ferry back to Conzumel, we walked around the beach street and looked in all the shops. Pretty good port, except you have to pay forty cents to go use the bathroom. The last day at sea was an interesting day. It started off as a normal day, me just walking all over the ship. I also finally reached the rock wall today, considering I didn’t make it on Sunday. I also tried the inline skating. After lunch, I hung out at the “ Living Room”. Around 4 PM, the ship stopped since they spotted some refugees in a small boat. The ship went out and saved them, all eleven, and were supposedly Cuban. Afterwards, it was dinner and I had to get all my stuff packed and out in the hallway by midnight. On Saturday, the final day, the fun cruise ended. I had to wake up pretty early, 6 AM and ate breakfast in the Windjammer. We ended up in the Boleros Lounge afterwards and were the first to get out since we had a green tag. Baggage claim went pretty quickly and by 10 AM, I was in the Miami airport heading home.

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

This ship was very impressive, from the Royal Promenade to the ice skating rink and beyond. There were some issues at embarkation on 8/27 and this was due to Hurricane Katrina as a Cat 1 when it moved through Miami. It caused delays in the Navigator returning to home port and also delayed the Mariner by one day. At one time in the Miami terminal there were probably about 12-15,000 people being processed, and I think under the circumstances

RCCL did all they could within their power to handle the situation. As with any megaship however, there were very long lines for shore excursions, guest relations, dining, shows and disembarkation. This is unfortunately one of the realities of cruising. One thing RCCL has done that I like is the introduction of their Royal Promenade staterooms. I had one and although it was small, storage space was adequate and there was a view of the promenade below. We were treated to a Mardi Gras parade, people watching and other forms of entertainment even though we had an inside cabin. The ice show was incredible and I highly recommend it. The ship is so big that the sailing is very smooth, and the ice skaters did a tremendous job, earning a standing ovation. Dining was not exceptional in that their dishes weren't to the culinary standards of Michel Roux and Celebrity, but they were innovative in terms of variety and selection. Our stateroom attendant was top notch, and the dining staff very caring and courteous. The Dungeon Dance Club is not to be missed, especially if you like a gothic atmosphere. There was a comedian on board that did an excellent family show and adult show. The shopping was not to the par of what you would find in St. Thomas of course, but they had the usual logo items and necessary travel items in stock, as well as the usual inch of gold and watch sales. Conference facilities are excellent and a great value if you are considering hosting an event at sea. The new Freedom of the Seas is to be launched in 2006 and it promises to offer even more than the Voyager class with its rock climbing wall, miniature golf, basketball courts, kids and teen clubs, arcades, and the wonderful Johnny Rockets restaurant. The casino was large and offered much more variety in gaming than I have seen on any other ship. The only real downside I can think of is just be prepared for long lines, exercise patience when you are waiting for your luggage, or just take everything in carryon bags. This does limit what you can buy in port though to take home, but saves waiting until 8pm to go to dinner because you don't have your bags.

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Nov 30, -0001

Family Vacation

The overall cruise experience was amazing we had a great time. The boat was very classy and clean. The staff was friendly and helpful at all times. The food was great espically the dinners. They tasted great and were always fun. It was not necessary to dress up, but we found it fun to to dress up for dinner. Our waiter, Charles and the assistant Carol were great. They made dinner fun and easy. It was nice to be able to try new foods and eat new

versions of old favorites. It was rather small but this is how they are on cruises. It was okay because we were rarely in our staterooms. There were so many different activities to do all the time. Everything from ice skating lessons to dodgeball tournments. The excursions are expensive and it's alot of fun just to do your own thing at the destination.

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Nov 30, -0001

short carribean cruise fll-coco cay

Short, economical 2 night cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Coco Cay and back. Too short of a cruise but nice ship. Most of the passengers decided to stay on the ship and not to go to the private island of Coco Cay, Bahamas. Johnny Rockets was great, but floor was sticky! Stateroom attendant was not as god as ones before, but customer service did not have an attitude like two previous cruises. Fort Lauderdale is a great place to cruise from - nice

free shuttle from Airport Rental car facility to port provided by Broward County. Last night room service was cut off and only place serving food was main promenande... result ship full of hungry passengers waiting in one line for pizza slices, fruit and small tuna sandwiches. Also the ice show was a refreshing change from A) quality comedians and B) quality singers that are fresh out of high school... Great as usual but portions are much smaller then previous times..... Head waiter never showed up. Very impersonable! Great! A balcony 8th floor. I did expect a little bigger though. Not enough time to do everything over two days. CoCo Cay has plenty to do! Too short next trip 4 plus days

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Nov 30, -0001

WESTERN CARIBBEAN

MUCH TO MY DISMAY, THIS SHIP DID NOT MEET MY EXPECTATIONS. TO CLARIFY, THE SHIP WAS ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT, AND UPON ARRIVAL I WAS IN AWE OF ITS SIZE AND BEAUTY. HOWEVER, THE STAFF LEFT MUCH TO BE DESIRED, AND THE FOOD WAS ONLY MARGINAL. UNTIL TUESDAY OF OUR CRUISE I WAS UNDER THE IMPRESSION THE STAFF WAS MERELY NEW, AND NOT RUDE OR UNWILLING T GO THAT EXTRA MILE. HOWEVER UPON GETTING A CASE OF STOMACH UPSET, ALL THAT CHANGED. MY HUSBAND

WENT TO THE "GENERAL STORE" ONLY TO FIND THAT ANY STOMACH MEDICATIONS HAD BEEN REMOVED ON PURPOSE TO FORCE YOU TO REPORT ANYTHING, EVEN MINOR TO THE MEDICAL DEPARTMENT. AFTER HIS TRIP TO DECK ONE TO ASK FOR SOME IMMODIUM (APPARENTLY I WAS SUFFERING FROM TOO MANY STRANGE FOODS FROM THE NIGHT BEFORE AND A BIT OF SEASICKNESS) I WAS INFORMED I HAD TO REPORT TO MEDICAL.2 HOURS LATER, I HAD BEEN INSULTED, TREATED LIKE I HAD A STRANGE DISEASE AND FORCED TO TAKE AN INJECTION (FOR NAUSEA WHICH I TOLD THEM 4 TIMES I DID NOT SUFFER FROM) IN ORDER TO RECEIVE IMODIUM FROM THE DOCTOR. TO ADD INSULT TO INJURY I WAS CONFINED TO MY QUARTERS WITH MY HUSBAND AND 7 YEAR OLD (WHO HAD NOT BEEN SICK AT ALL) FOR 72 HOURS. I WAS FURIOUS. BEING A MOTHER I WOULD NEVER KNOWINGLY SPREAD A VIRUS, AND WAS FULL AWARE THAT MY ILLNESS WAS NOT WHAT THEY ASSUMED IT WAS. IT TOOK US UNTIL 9 AT NIGHT TO GET A DINNER, STEAK SERVED ON PAPER PLATES WITH PLASTIC FORKS. ALSO, WE WERE TOLD IF ANY OF US LEFT THE ROOM WE WOULD BE THROWN OFF THE SHIP AT THE NEXT PORT. UPON VISITING THE DR THE NEXT AM AND LOOKING 100% HEALTHY, HE NOTICED A PATCH BEHIND MY EAR (WHICH WAS LISTED AND CIRCLED ON MY MEDICAL FORMS) AND ADVISED ME NOT TO TOUCH IT AND THEN TOUCH MY MOUTH OR FOOD AS TERRIBLE DIARRHEA WOULD RESULT. I ASKED HIM ABOUT MY PROBLEM I HAD, AND HE APOLOGIZED SAYING "HONESTLY HE DIDN'T SEE THAT ON MY CHART." SO, OUR VACATION WAS RUINED FOR NOTHING. I HAVE REC'VD NO APOLOGY, AND THEY REFUSED TO GIVE ME MY MEDICAL RECORDS 3 TIMES. WE WILL SEE THEM IN COURT. FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND IT WILL HAVE TO BE IN MIAMI. THAT'S FINE.. I LIKE THE WARM WEATHER IN THE WINTER TIME. I URGE YOU..TAKE ANY QUESTIONABLE MEDS WITH YOU.. EVEN OUR CABIN BOY TOLD US THAT HORRIBLE EVENING " HAD I KNOWN I WOULD HAVE TOLD YOU DON'T GO.. IF ITS A HEADACHE ITS NORWALK LATELY". I THOUGHT CONFINING YOU TO YOUR ROOM WAS ILLEGAL.. AND I THOUGHT REFUSAL OF MEDICAL RECORDS WAS ALSO. THEY ARE GETTING AROUND THE RECORDS BY REFUSING TO LET US PAY. OBVIOUSLY THIS IS ROUTINE WITH THEM.. ITS A WAY TO HIDE ALL THE DIRTY LAUNDRY. THEY PAY THE BILL, AND YOU HAVE NO PROOF OF WHAT HAPPENED AND THEY CAN SAY THEY ARE ILLNESS FREE.

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Navigator is an amazing ship. Rooms are very comfortable. We had 9262 and 9263. Lots of space, quiet and well-maintained. The interior of the ship was immaculate. They cleaned constantly. The public areas are a delight. Lots of lounges, and entertainment areas. The skating rink and outdoor sports areas are great. The kids club has been expanded to 22,000 square feet, which is awesome. The counselors were really enthusiastic and caring.

The dining rooms are well done. The three levels works well and the staff was very courteous and well trained for only the 5th cruise. The food was better than usual. Portofino's was actually worth the extra $20 each. The food was good and the atmosphere very nice. Entertainment was greatly improved over previous cruises. The Osmonds were corny, but the rest was good. Windjammer was not as well designed as on Radiance, but the food offered many varieties, including lots of Asian. The itinerary is still mixed. Labadee is a total waste. RCCL should begin to change this location. Way too expensive and the natives are unfriendly in the market, and we don't usually mind this at all. The tenders to Labadee were poorly done and took forever in both directions. Jamaica has improved greatly. We took a private ocean horseback riding trip with Hooves. Also swam with the dolphins on the ship's tour. Cayman is the same as always. Went out with Capt. Marvin on private stingray and snorkel trip. Much better than ship's tour and a lot cheaper. Took the ships tour in Cozumel over to Tulum and Xel-Ha. This was quite well done. We had an excellent guide. Embarkation was still the usual nightmare, but debarkation was smooth and much improved. The promenade and theater and dining room and solarium make this ship an absolute must for a vacation.

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

BACKGROUND - 40’s with one 7-year-old son. My mom also traveled with us. This was our 9th cruise (all on RCCL) and our son’s 5th cruise. This was our first time on a Voyager class ship. We choose this ship as our favorite waitress, Mellany transferred from the Grandeur. This was our first time cruising during a holiday period. EMBARKATION - We got to the pier around 12:45 pm. What a zoo. Very unorganized, lines everywhere. We waited

1.5 hours in the C&A Diamond and Platinum line. They only had one person working that line, and then finally added a second person. The regular line was really long also but seemed to be moving. The few upgrades that we wanted were gone by the time we got there. They were also checking people in that were in the pier coordinator upgrade line. That one moved the quickest. I think the problem may be due to two Voyager class ships in port on the same day. Rccl was trying to check in about 6800 people for the two ships. Make sure you are in the right line for the right ship. THE SHIP – Very big and beautiful. It still has that brand new smell. The ship is well laid out and not hard to get around once you figure out what set of elevators (or stairs) you need. The ship was full but it never seemed real crowded due to the size. OUR ROOM – We had a D9 balcony, #9358 on the ninth floor. A bit tight with 4 of us trying to move around at the same time but we managed. The room was very well laid out with plenty of storage for the 4 of us. In the closet there are shelves that hold the extra pillows and blankets. We used those to store clothes on. There was plenty of closet space and hangers. We removed some of their wooden hangers and used our wire ones as they took up less space. The bathroom was fine. The shower is enclosed with a plastic door that slides open and closed, no more shower curtain sticking to your backside. We used the shoe rack thing to hold toiletries. We just tied it onto the towel bar. There was a mini bar. I removed all the items and told the room steward we had our own soda and water. Hubby, son and myself slept in the bed, we were comfortable. My mom had the sleeper sofa. (It was actually a futon) It was very uncomfortable. The second night she asked the room steward to fix it. She made it up with some extra blankets underneath and that helped. The balcony was nice with 2 chairs and a table. Our room was in the aft end of the ship. A very good location as it is on the end where the pool, dining room and kids center is. Our room steward was just ok; we have had much better ones. The room was maid up and clean. She always left the dirty glasses in the room; I had to put them in the hall. One glass was left on the balcony the entire week. I also asked for some wine glasses and never got them. They seem to have more rooms than usual. I always saw many still cleaning rooms at 2 and 3 in the afternoon. Our robes were in the room when we arrived and we got our crown and anchor coupon books the first evening. KIDS – It was Christmas and there were 998 kids on board. RCCL is strictly enforcing their zero tolerance policy for misbehaving kids and parents. I did not here of any one getting kicked off our sailing but they were broadcasting the policy on the speaker 3 times a day and it was printed in the compass. For the most part, I did not see any problems. One night there was a group tying up an elevator. On the last night, there was on group in the concierge club after midnight. When we came in, one of them said, hey the booze cabinet is unlocked. A little phone call took care of the situation. Yes, kids were in the hot tubs. The sign says, under 16 should be supervised. I guess parents were keeping an eye on them from the upper deck. I did not use the Solarium as I have a young one, so I cannot comment on kids in that area. The Solarium is not covered like it is on the Vision class ships. KIDS PROGRAMS – As always, RCCL has excellent programs for the children. My son was in the 6 to 8 year old program. The hours are 9 to noon, 2 to 5 and 7 to 10 pm. Late night babysitting is available until 1 am for $5.00 per hour per child. The kids also get a compass each day that listed all of their activities for the day. The area for the 6 to 8 year olds is huge. They had science activities, a pj party, parades, a circus show and a talent show. ARCADE – The arcade is a very good size with approximately 30 different games. The average price was about $1.00 per game. You can transfer arcade credit to your child’s sea pass from yours in the arcade. This place was always busy. FOOD - So may more choices on the bigger ships. Windjammer – The food was very good. I was surprised. They had plenty of food stations all marked, even the ketchup area. They had two omelet stations and fresh craved ham and everything else you could ever think of for breakfast. Plenty of hot choices and nice craved roast beef for lunch. The burgers were fresh grilled and the pizza was good also. The food service in the windjammer was continuous. You could get breakfast at 11:30 am. Lunch started at 11:30 am. We did not eat any dinners in the windjammer. There was always crew at the coffee, lemonade, and tea stations to serve you. You did not get your own. Also, plenty of crew at each food station helping to serve you rather than serving yourself. (Health issues) They had a self-serve ice cream station also. I did not try it, but it seemed very popular with the kids. The coffee is Seattle Bests now, much an improvement over the “brick” coffee. Jade - Hubby had lunch here a few days, very good with different choices of oriental food each day. He was disappointed to find out that the sushi was only offered in the evenings. Dinning Room - We were in the Swan Lake dinning room on the 5th deck. We had table #572, main seating (for eight) in the corner by the window, a very nice location. The food was very good, not exceptional. We had the filet, lobster, lamp chops, etc. We did not have prime rib. The Christmas dinner included Beef Wellington, it was excellent. They always had the standard steak and grilled chicken options if you did not like something on the menu. If you want something fixed different, just ask. If you want something special, like shrimp cocktail every night, just ask. This was the first cruise that I was very disappointed in the desserts. They were just ok and the cheesecakes were very dry. As always, the dinning room service was excellent. Our waitress treats our son like a king. Alternate Dining – We did not eat at Chops or Portfolios. Our table mates did eat at Chops and said it was excellent, the best steak they have ever had. Just pick a day and make reservations as soon as you board, it fills up quick. Also, get on the wait list if you need to, that is how our tablemates got in. Café Promenade - They had little sandwiches, very good, the salami ones were the best. They also had pizza other assorted light snacks and the best cookies. Only coffee or water was available here. There is a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream stand (I did not try it) it cost $2.50, I think. The free ice cream stand was next door, Sprinkles, but seemed to be broken for the most part of the cruise. Entertainment – Do not miss the ice skating show. It was very good, amazing what they can do on a small rink. When we walked in, there was no one there collecting tickets. The headliner was the Russian comic, Yakov Smirnoff. He was excellent. We had seem him on the Majesty of the Seas 9 years ago. We did not see any of the other shows, but my mom did. She said they were about the same as on any rccl ship. Cruise Critic, Repeaters and Crown and Anchor parties – did not make it to them Captain’s Cocktail party – I was disappointed on how they are doing this on the bigger ships now. You got Champagne and just walked around in the promenade area. If you wanted to shake the captain’s hand, you went to another room at a certain time. Then the captain did speak from the top of the promenade level later on. I liked it better when everyone was all in one lounge area together. Casino – The casino was nicely laid out except for the table games. They were all cramped into one area against the wall. It was hard to move around. They had one craps table, one let it ride table, 3 or 4 Caribbean stub tables and around 7 blackjack tables. This cruise, the tables were all hopping every night and the slots machines were empty. They had mostly $10 blackjack tables and 2 $25 tables at night. And yes, if your credit card can support it, you can get casino money on your sign and sail card for a maximum of $1500 a day. If you want cash, just get it at the casino cashiers. If you need tip money or to break down bills for tips, use the casino cashier, not the purser’s desk on the last day, the line will be shorter. Liquor – We had one bottle of wine and one rum bubbled wrapped in our checked luggage, no problem. They had the signs posted at the entrance to the ship about their liquor policy and they were taking and holding liquor bought on the islands when you re-boarded. We found the rum to be reasonability priced on the ship. We ordered 4 bottles on the last day. If you order earlier for in room consumption, there is a $9.50 per bottle extra charge. They did not have any liquor boxes; The Navigator’s 300 boxes for the week were loaded onto the Explorer. The roll aboard cooler we received for a Christmas present from RCCL came in handy here. The Islands – This cruise was more about being with our family and friends at Christmas than the itinerary. We have been to all the places before but I will tell you what we did. Nassau – Really glad we did not plan anything here. The ship did not leave Miami until 9:30 pm the first night as we were waiting for 500 people. I thought we would make up the time, but we did not get into Nassau until 10 am and left there at 2pm. A lot of the excursions were cancelled. We just got off and walked down the street to the straw market. Go there first, you will find the same things as in the little stores along the way and cheaper. Everything starts to looks the same in the straw market, walk to the back, them seemed to bargain more and help you find what you wanted. A lot of local crafts and the usual shirts, towels, and jewelry. St. Thomas – We went to Coki beach. Cab fare is $7 per person. They will fill a van before they leave. The snorkeling was very good here. By the early afternoon, the beach was very crowded but we had a great time. They sell drinks on the beach. Food was available but we decided to wait until we got back to the ship. Lounge chairs were available for $5.We had our own equipment but you could rent it there also. Cabs are available for the trip back, $7 each. It was about a 20 minute ride each way. We decided to skip the shopping when we returned. San Juan - This was Christmas day and we were only here until 2pm. It was raining also. All we did was walk out into the pier to check the liquor prices and pick up a few postcards. Labadee – This was our best day for the weather, nice and warm and sunny. We did the parasailing. If you have never done it, do it, it was great. Sigh up on the TV the day you board. This fills up quickly. Since we did the parasailing, we did not eat until 2pm. The lunch was just ok. The burgers and hot dogs were ok, the chicken was fatty. The ribs looked the best bust were gone by the time we got there. Hint, when you get off the tender, go to the right. That is where the parasailing is and the aqua center and a lunch station. It was less crowed and there were some nice shady areas. If you want to do the aqua water park ($15 for adult and $10 for kids) sign up for a time right away when you get off the tender. This also fills up quickly. Hubby and son enjoyed it. You are basically climbing and walking on inflatable icebergs out in the water. Everyone must wear a life vest. There were jellyfish in the water. You just had to be careful. If you got stung, they had plenty of medicine at the stand. We did not have time for the shopping but my mom said it was very good. As we boarded the tender back, I saw a lot of nice island statues and stuff. Christmas – The ship was nicely decorated for Christmas, trees and holly everywhere and a really nice gingerbread display in the promenade area. Santa came on Christmas morning at 8:15 and had gifts for all the children. A backpack for the younger ones and a shoulder pack for the older ones. The adults got a roll aboard picnic/cooler. They had eggnog and caroling on Christmas Eve. Debarkation - Since we were staying in Miami, we had late colored tags, blue. They were supposed to be for 10am, but it was around 10:30 am when we got off. We waited in the Diamond and Platinum private area. On the last evening the compass will list the times for the colored tags. If you want a different tag, just ask your room steward or pick them up at a box near the purser’s desk. Final Thoughts – The Navigator is truly a big and beautiful ship. Everything you could ever image is right there. The crew was wonderful, always smiling and eager to help. They are cleaning and inspecting all areas on a daily basis. The air condoning was not quite right, the halls were cold but the other areas were normal or warm. Our room seemed cold all day and a bit warm at night. But, for the second 7-day sailing on a brand new ship, I would say that it went exceptional. What is next – Another RCCL cruise with our favorite waitress, Mellany, on whatever ship she is on, hopefully, the Navigator.

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

We sailed with a Cruise Critic group on the Navigator’s Eastern Caribbean route 1/18/03-1/25/03. Our friends Mike and Debbie, also from Louisville, joined us. We were on the Voyager the past summer and couldn’t wait to book her new sister! I will compare these two ships in this review. Our friends stayed at the Hyatt the night prior to the cruise. We flew down the morning of, having stayed at an airport hotel in Louisville, then parking

and shuttling to the red-eye. Very easy flights. Arrival: It was in the low 50’s and windy when we arrived at the RCCL terminal in Miami at 11:50. We had to wait in line about 40 minutes outside, which was pretty brisk. Once inside, we waited another 40 minutes in line before finally stepping aboard the ship. We headed to our room and met Wickham, our steward, who provided wonderful, friendly service all week. We gave him his gratuity up front, and later handed him another tip for the great job. I recommend tipping everyone up front; they knowyou won’t stiff them and you'll have a chance to reward above average service. The On for the tour. Right away, we saw many changes in the Navigator that we likedbetter than the Voyager. The art work in the atrium is stunning! The library is now separate from the computer terminals, which makes it a bit more peaceful and relaxing. After the Norwalk scare, we noticed more cleaning. The smell of bleach became overwhelming at times and burned my sinuses. The Fitness facility had better machines. They used all Lifestyler bikes, elliptical trainers and treadmills. These machines read your heart rate and have other fun features such as workout programs. The weight machines were also very nice- much better than the Reebok machines on Voyager. The temperature of the gym was cooler, which was pleasant for aerobics. I used the jogging track outdoors once- it was too windy most of the time. 5 laps to a mile, get there early before people start sitting there. Bars: Vintages Wine Bar was our favorite addition to the ship. We went for seminars, tastings and other events hosted by an affable and knowledgeable staff .The BIG negative is they allow smoking on one side and at the bar which drifts throughout the bar. There is not good ventilation either. It ruined our first tasting when we tried to distinguish smells from fruits and compare them with wines. All we could smell was smoke! At later tastings, they asked people to refrain from smoking, but it was still allowed at other times. RCCL allows smoking in all bars- here’s one where they could offer a smoke-free environment! Boleros: This replaced the Aquarium bar on Voyager. It had warm, rich tones and gorgeous glass flowers on the walls. My favorite artwork on the ship. They had the Rosario strings playing a mixture of standards and Latin music. The dancing was great! This quartet also provided tunes on the Promenade in the afternoons. They were fabulous and much appreciated. Ixtapa Lounge: Pretty typical rock music. The Stingrays did a variety for the theme nights .They have an excellent keyboardist/singer who is the guts of the group. This lounge also hosted the karaoke nights. They are no longer contests, as the ones held in Pig and Whistle on Voyager. Two Poets: Pete Wickersham played guitar and sang a typical variety. We enjoyed singing with him and he was gracious with passing the mike . He enjoyed the harmony, and was a good entertainer. Cosmopolitan Club: Bigger than High Notes on Voyager. Also, prettier, warmer with a larger dance floor. Excellent jazz Band, the Phil Magallenes Quintet. We only wished they had played a little more swing, we love that dancing. Pianist was one of the best I’ve heard on a cruise. Real pro. Studio B: This is where the fabulous ice show was held. Do not miss it. They didn’t “fly” as on the Voyager, but it was more Ice Dancing instead of the competition format. The costumes and music were stunning. On one night, a dance floor was installed, and there was a 50’s-60’s sock hop. Jeffrey Arpin, the Cruise Director, dressed as ‘Big Daddy” and hosted a dance competition, sang and played piano! The Stingrays did the music and the staff danced as well. It was a solid hour of fun! Schooner Bar: Usually a favorite, we weren’t crazy about Matt Yee. I play piano for a living, so I am a bit opinionated. When we do piano bars, we like the crazy stuff, but it’s also nice to do some standards and sing alongs. Most pianists pass the mike and make it a group activity. he wouldn’t give up the Gilligan’s Island stuff. In your face music. Every other song, he’d break into the song from Grease- wella wella wella UUGGHH. That’s what you heard over and over and over when you passed through. I found it pretty annoying. The Dungeon: Very cool, loved the cracked glass steps, gothic-style decor, lighting was something to see. We didn’t care for the music, so didn’t stay there long. Food: Windjammer/Jade: Big improvements here! There is a lovely wood-trimmed entrance to this area with Chops and Portofino’s on either side. Jade has the first buffet lines. I REALLY enjoyed the food here. I had some interesting Indian dishes, Chinese mixed veggies with Tofu ,and salad with a very spicy Indian dressing. Since buffet food tends to be bland, this is a welcome change. The buffet of the Windjammer is now set up in several stations. It keeps the lines shorter, but also has people going in lots of directions! The food was good- they had a couple of fish and chicken dishes which were tasty and had an excellent vegetable stew. I’m not a big meat eater, but my tablemates raved about the short ribs. At breakfast, you could have an omelet made at the very back line. The fruit was excellent-pineapple fresh, watermelon and cantaloupe sweet. The spicy salsa was great on eggs. Dining Room: Food was good to very good. Lobster on Friday was superb. Many ordered two. We were booked with a group and were originally given first seating with them. The four of us from Louisville had our cards hand- marked , and we were changed to second seating on the third tier by the door at a table for 10! We got a very strange explanation when asked how this occurred. We spent a couple hours with Raj, our patient Head Waiter, trying to get it right. Many in our group were really irate! They’ve cruised extensively, and had never encountered such a mess. There was a large group of senior citizens who switched seats and made it difficult to rectify the situation. However, on the second night, 8 from our group were seated together on the second tier, albeit alongside the senior group. That was fine, they were very nice and we made some friends in that group. Our waiter, Tamer, was wonderful as was his assistant Richard. Chops: We had a group of 13 at two separate tables. We arrived, got water, then waited 10 minutes for a drink order and bread. Terrible! The service was spotty all night. The filet was wonderful, and they brought all the sides on the menu served “family style.” Really enjoyed that. Captain Bang’s daughter was having a birthday there that night, and they shared the cake with us! The Adventure Ocean kids above us made a lot of noise during dinner. Sounded like elephants. Portofino: Perfect service from Eva and Ernest. Food very good- atmosphere excellent. Loved the truffles after dinner! Cafe Promenade: Loved the daily sandwich specials. Also had sweets, fruit and pizza. The Navigator is serving Seattle’s Best Coffee now; what an improvement! Entertainment: Poolside: The Mega Four was an outstanding band. They did all the standard Marley covers, plus a wide selection of Caribbean and standards. Excellent musicians; really got the party going. Metropolis Theater: RCCL Singers and Dancers- First show, Now and Forever, was our favorite. Featured Broadway numbers. I didn’t write down the names of everyone, but Stephanie Pope was featured female singer. The featured young man was an excellent entertainer, too. Stephanie is pregnant, so I doubt she’ll be there very long! We heard Phil Tag, comedian, who was good and did the late adult show. Also enjoyed Don Friesen. Our favorite act was Two Funny Guys= two Argentineans Mario and Daniel who were gut-busting funny! Singer/Pianist Bobby Avron, known as the “Voice of Happy Days” proved he had many other skills, including impersonating all the popular male singers you could imagine. A real ball of energy! Parties: We had our Cruise Critic party on Monday at 11 am. We put faces behind the names we’d seen on the Internet all those months. It was a lively, friendly group and we made many friends. (Linda and Joe from New Hampshire gave us a tour of the Royal Suite- that was something to behold! ) The Captain, his wife and family came to the party, as well as Jeffrey Arpin, the cruise director and Genie Lee, the social host. Several others on the staff attended as well. During the week, many in our group attended dinners together, had a put-putt tournament and a “White Shark” gift exchange On the final night of the cruise, the four of us participated in the talent contest. Me on piano, Mike aka “Michelle” on lead vocal and Rick and Debbie on backup. Despite us, there was some good talent that night! This was the friendliest cruise I’ve been on- both passengers and staff. It was our 5th cruise, and it was a bumpy ride! The weather all over the nation was bad, and it affected the seas. The waves in the pool were soaking the deck during our “Under the Stars” dance! The towel monkey was swinging so hard, he was hitting the ceiling. Ports: Nassau, San Juan, Labadee, St. Thomas: We did this cruise for the ship, not the ports. I can add little or nothing to what has been written. In St. Thomas, we took a cab to Red Hook (20 min) then took a 15-min ferry to St. John. That’s where the beauty is! We parked at Cinnamon Bay this year. It has a restaurant, showers and facilities as well as lockers and snorkeling gear. It was too rough to snorkel, though, but you could SURF! Shopped a while in Cruz Bay- very quaint- before taking the ferry to Charlotte Amalie (45 min). We walked approx. one and a half miles through the shopping area downtown back to our ship. In Labadee, we just beach walked and enjoyed the barbecue. I swam a mile in the ocean there. Easy swimming, but the water isn’t clear or pretty, and there are no reefs or fish to see. We stayed on the ship in the other ports. Debarkation: We were in the second group (purple, blue, gray). We sat at the Cafe Promenade enjoying snacks and coffee until called The Voyager did not offer that; what a welcome change. We were called at 10 o’clock, and by 10:30 were in the cab. Very smooth and efficient. Miami airport was a total zoo! We curb-checked, which helped a bit. The security line wrapped all over the airport and there was mass confusion about where to go. The staff could not handle it. It took us over an hour just to get through security! We spent a leisurely hour in the airport, then returned home to snow and record cold. We picked the right week to travel! Conclusion: This was our favorite cruise so far. RCCL staff once again impressed us thoroughly. The Navigator is a stunning ship, and the changes between her and her sister ship, The Voyager, are welcome. We can’t wait to book the Mariner next year! Any comments or questions, feel free to email us at LLindaC@aol.com

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