Cruise Ship: Navigator of the Seas
Cruise Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Cruise Dates: December 3 - 10, 2005
Guest Contributors: Mary & Vincent Finelli
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 on the Navigator of the Seas
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 Navigator of the Seas
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!