Excellent Navigator Cruise
Paul Nicholls | April 12, 2015 | Royal Caribbean International | Navigator of the Seas
We’ve just returned from a seven night cruise to Northern Spain on N.o.t.Seas made possible for us due to an unbelievably good special offer from Bolsover (Many thanks, Bolsover, keep ’em coming ! ). It was our first RCI cruise ( we’ve only ever cruised with P&O ) and we were bowled over by it. A wonderful experience for us all (Two adults, two children sharing a four berth cabin on deck 6) from start to finish. I must say that I’ve read some pretty negative reviews about this ship but I can’t imagine why anyone would not love it.
Embarkation at S’hampton was a breeze. We parked the car as directed, our luggage was whisked away in a van and ten minutes later, after a few security checks and a quick photo opportunity we were on board and heading for the Windjammer buffet for lunch. The buffet got a little crowded at certain times but we always managed to find a seat…you just have to be a little patient…and the choice of food was staggering. Our inside cabin was ready at one thirty and we were amazed by it’s size. Huge kingsize bed, bunks for the kids, adequate storage space, settee, desk and chair and a lovely clean shower room with loads of fluffy towels. What more could you wish for. Our cabin steward was a splendid gentleman called Basil and he looked after us really well throughout. On departure day he even came to say goodbye and hoped that God granted us a safe journey home…how lovely.
After we’d dumped the baggage in the cabin and retrieved our suitcases we went off to explore the ship and I have to say this vessel certainly has the WOW factor. Everything was awesome and on a massive scale. The Royal Promenade was a marvel with high tech lighting effects, shops and bars and a caf?? serving pastries, sandwiches and hot drinks at all hours. Kids facilities were amazing with a huge amusement arcade that put some seaside arcades to shame and all manner of sports activities including an ice rink. My kids went skating twice during the cruise and loved every minute. We also saw the Dancing on Ice show which was very spectacular.
Food throughout the cruise was lovely. The Sapphire restaurant served three course meals in the evenings which were delicious. The menu was a little repetitive but our waiters told us that if there was anything we wanted that wasn’t on the menu just ask and that if we ordered something and didn’t like it they would change it without question so you can’t beat that for service. Also, if you couldn’t choose between two things say….soup or prawn cocktail….no worries, have both. Brilliant! Food in the Windjammer buffet was amazing. Choices were vast and all sorts of diets ( vegan, gluten free etc ) were catered for. We also got to try some American foods that you only see in the movies, for example: Grits, Biscuits and gravy, Grape jelly, Meatloaf and succotash to name but a few. Some were good (Meatloaf), some were horrible (biscuits and gravy) but at least we tried them. We also ate in two of the speciality restaurants. Johnny Rockets was amazing. Lovely burgers. Endless plates of fries and onion rings with tomato sauce roses AND a demonstration of how to create the roses AND, if that wasn’t enough, you get dancing waiters and my youngest daughter was presented with a guitar made out of balloons. Izumi, the Japanese restaurant on deck 14 was just wonderful. I had soft shell crabs and they were gorgeous.
Entertainment on board was mostly very good. We saw a comedian, a female singer, a magician and a comedy juggler all of whom were great. We also saw a show by the RCI Headliners called Now & Forever…songs from the Broadway shows. Only trouble is, no one knew any of the songs or from what show they came so it was a bit boring. Then, strangely, they tacked a few Abba songs on at the end which of course everyone knew but the change in tone was a bit jarring !
Our ports of call were Vigo, Gijon, Bilbao and LeHavre. We went ashore at all ports even though shuttle buses were quite expensive ( 10 euros return per person ). We also took a trip to Honfleur from LeHavre. Honfleur is a beautiful town with some great shops and cafes but we didn’t get very long there for our money….with hindsight it would perhaps have been cheaper to take a taxi as Honfleur is only about a half hour drive from the port. You do have to traverse the spectacular ( and very high ) Pont de Normandie over the Seine which is an experience worth having.
Drinks on board Navigator are very expensive so, if you are partial to a glass or three of wine or beer it is a good idea to pay in advance for the drinks package ( especially if you see it advertised on RCI’s website at a discount, which we did ). You really do get unlimited drinks, anything you like up to $12 per drink as many times as you wish so the package soon pays for itself if you have a few beers during the day, a cocktail before dinner and a few glasses of wine with dinner. Gratuities are added automatically to your on board account at a rate of $13.50 per person/per day and that includes children. I don’t agree with children paying tips so I asked for the children’s tips to be removed and this was done in a few seconds with no questions asked.
Sadly, we had to leave the ship at the end of the cruise and disembarkation was swift and efficient. We were given a leaving time of 0745 and that is exactly the time we left. Found our luggage quickly and we were away.
Overall we had an absolutely brilliant cruise and would heartily recommend RCI to anyone. All the staff were friendly and genuinely wanted you to have a good time. Food, drink and entertainment were uniformly excellent. Ports of call were interesting. And the Navigator of the Seas is a beautiful and marvellous piece of engineering. Long may she navigate the seas !
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