April 2016 - Navigator of the Seas to Caribbean - Eastern
Okay, perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch to call Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas “Oasis Lite.” But, particularly after the 2014 refurb, this Voyager class ship does share some of the same features that make it a good alternative to its can-be-overwhelming Oasis of the Seas sibling.
Here’s a bit of the similarities and differences:
On the spot. Oasis has three “neighborhoods” to Navigator’s one. What they both have in common is the Promenade, the ship’s hub and site for parades, the ‘70s theme party and other events. It’s also is the home of the only 24-hour nosh spot, the Promenade Café, with its free sandwiches and sweets.
On our Navigator trip, we admit to missing Oasis’ greeny oasis, Central Park. Also absent was the kids-friendly Boardwalk, with its full-size carousel, fun-house mirrors and candy shop.
On the move. Navigator emerged from its month-long dry dock with a FlowRider, the popular surf-making machine on Oasis. And like the bigger ship, Navigator has a rock-climbing wall, ice skating rink and miniature golf.
On your plate. The main dining room and Windjammer buffet fare is pretty much the same on both ships, and both have the Brasserie 30 and “Tutti” salad bar in the MDR on sea days. The bread stuffs on both ships were great—from the pumpkin seed-studded rolls to the breakfast breads with dried fruit and sugar sprinkles.
Navigator’s Windjammer had some surprises, such as a featured dish served up (somewhat oddly) front and center in the buffet’s entranceway. One day it was bagels with flavored cream cheeses. Another, it was a massive fruit cobbler in just about the biggest pan you’ll ever see. The last night—I suppose to make parting less painful—the buffet sprouted fresh raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.
Oasis has some extra specialty restaurants. The for-a-fee eateries they share: Chops Grille (steak), Giovanni’s Table (Italian), Sabor (Mexican) and Izumi (Japanese). Both have a Ben and Jerry’s, and Starbucks, but on Navigator, they’re so small that you’ll miss them if you blink.
On the stage. No comparison here, sad to say. The one spectacular show they do both offer is the ice show, and what a show it is! (Though the actual production is different.) Continuously changing sets, elaborate costumes, and with many of the same jumps, twirls and whirls you’d see on land. On Oasis, you sign up online before the trip. On Navigator, you’re assigned a show by your muster station.
Beyond the ice show, only Oasis class ships have the eye-popping aqua shows and Broadway-quality musicals. Navigator has the typical cruise ship entertainment—comedian, singers and two production shows. As with most, the production shows were entertaining, but not memorable.
In the Plus Column
What else can you look forward to on Navigator? In Windjammer, the wait staff roam, offering water/juice/ice tea at lunch and dinner, and sometimes, cookies, too…Because it’s smaller, finding a table in the buffet is easier, so is getting on and off the ship…its size allows it to go to more ports…it’s faster to learn your way around…balcony chairs recline, the night table has a closed drawer and the closet has a few shelves (you’ll find none of these on Oasis).
So, in short, if you’re not ready, willing or able for a trip on an Oasis ship, Navigator of the Seas is a good alternative. -- Musing About Cruising