Cruise Ship: Navigator of the Seas
Cruise Destination: Western Caribbean
Date of Cruise: January 25 - February 1, 2003
Guest Contributor: Vincent N. and 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."
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 12:30 pm 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!
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).
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