Second Mate

Hometown: Born and raised in NY, lived in Boston for 15 years and now live in Jacksonville, FL
Joined: 04/20/2014
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About DeedeeG

I'm a professional and recreational writer, and cruise enthusiast. For tips on cruising, visit my blog, Musing About Cruising, at



DeedeeG's Past Cruises

Navigator of the Seas

April 2016 - Navigator of the Seas to Caribbean - Eastern

Oasis Lite: Review of Navigator of the Seas

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

Read Full Review »

Oasis of the Seas

December 2015 - Oasis of the Seas to Caribbean - Eastern

When Bigger is Best: a Review of the Oasis

You notice it most when you’re in port. Oasis is big. It commands attention. And it dwarfs every other ship.


But what does big do for the cruiser?


Big means better entertainment. Like its sibling, Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas has top-flight entertainment, starting with the full version of the musical Cats (see tip below). It has a colorful and lively ice show with former championship skaters. An extensive DreamWorks parade. In short, it has shows and events you just won’t see on any other ship. And some productions, like the aqua show with its mesmerizing high divers, you won’t see on land, either.


Big means more activities. Only a ship that’s 1,800 feet long (five football fields!) can have a full-sized carousel (rides are free), wave-making machine for surfing and boogie-boarding, 82-foot long zip line, and two rock-climbing walls with multiple levels of difficulty.


Big means more places to call your own. Of the three “neighborhoods” (Promenade, Boardwalk and Central Park), Central Park was the most underutilized and thus, became our favorite. Nighttime, you pretty much have the place to yourself. A glass of wine at the Trellis Bar, surrounded by the (real) tropical foliage and sparkling restaurant lights, is a great way to get away from the bustle.


Big means more food choices. There are 25 restaurants—some will cost you, but others will not. The complimentary venues begin with three main dining rooms, where the entrees are adequate (thankfully, lobster tails still grace the menu on the second formal night), desserts are good and the rolls are superb (try the pumpkin seed ones). Along with the usual fare, the Windjammer buffet at night has some interesting Asian dishes, such tandoori chicken and curry specialties; brie; and an occasional surprise or two.


Among the other free options are Park Café for breakfast and lunch (paninis and salads assembled to order); Sorrento’s, where pizzas can also be made to your taste; and the 24-hour Café Promenade with sandwiches and desserts (try the wonderful cheesecake pops).


Big means more space to walk off your meals. The covered jogging track on Deck 5 spans the length of the ship and has one lane dedicated to runners and another to walkers. Be sure to check out the cute sayings overhead. One mile is just 2.4 laps. And aside from the occasional crew member using the track as a short cut, you won’t have much competition for foot space.


Ironically, even with its vast size, Oasis still runs out of room. Comedy is relegated to a small theater, forcing the comedians to do show, after show, after show on a seven-day cruise—a fact they never fail to mention. Our Crown and Anchor event was held on the helipad, in the sun, on a hot day.


When big is not the best. Big doesn’t necessarily mean better food. While the food on Oasis is okay, it doesn’t get the same emphasis that you’ll see on some other cruise lines. Royal Caribbean focuses on activities and entertainment and for that reason, perhaps, the crowd on Oasis was decidedly younger than on other cruise line ships.


And big means more people and longer lines. For the most part, Oasis has crowd control down to a science. Getting back onboard after a port visit always involved some kind of line, but it moved swiftly. Amazingly, disembarkation took significantly less time than it did when we sailed on Celebrity’s Constellation, a ship half of Oasis’ size.


Despite the occasional inconveniences and unremarkable food, what you can count on is that Oasis of the Seas is big on fun. -- Musing About Cruising

Read Full Review »

Caribbean Princess

April 2015 - Caribbean Princess to Caribbean - Western

Celebrity Constellation

December 2014 - Celebrity Constellation to Caribbean - Eastern

Allure of the Seas

May 2014 - Allure of the Seas to Caribbean - Eastern

Emerald Princess

December 2013 - Emerald Princess to Caribbean

Caribbean Princess

April 2013 - Caribbean Princess to Caribbean

Allure of the Seas

December 2012 - Allure of the Seas to Caribbean

Golden Princess

May 2012 - Golden Princess to Alaska

DeedeeG's Tips

Labadee (Cruiseline Private Island) - With their gentle, clear waters, the beaches are excellent for swimming. And don't be afraid of the shopping--while the vendors are aggressive, the crafts are very reasonably priced and there's huge variety.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten - We've been here many, many times and still have great fun. The islanders keep improving the place and if you walk further up the beach (away from the ship), you'll find a new little shopping area with an old-fashioned automat (for those who remember what that is...)
San Juan, Puerto Rico - If you make a left after leaving the port area and follow the promenade along the water, it's a lovely view and in short order, you end up at El Moro. If you choose not to see the fort, the view alone is worth the stroll.
Navigator of the Seas Navigator of the Seas - We used My Time dining and went very smoothly. We never waited for more than about 10 minutes, and were always able to get our choice--a table for two.
Oasis of the Seas Oasis of the Seas - The musical "Cats" shouldn’t be missed. To ensure you enjoy the show, do the following before you leave home. We did and it made all the difference: * See the 1998 movie version * Read the plot summary (at Wikipedia or * Download lyrics from free sites like metrolyrics
Cozumel, Mexico - Always enjoy the shopping here--the prices are very reasonable and you can get anything from silver to pottery to onyx.
George Town, Grand Cayman - We always enjoy visiting the little fish market on the sand in the harbor. Loved this sign on a beachside restaurant: "You hook it, we cook it."
Coxen Hole, Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras - We docked instead at Mohagany Bay, Carnival's gorgeous private side of Roatan. The beach and water rival Princess Cays, and offer wonderful swimming, water sports and even a chair lift!
Caribbean Princess Caribbean Princess - The hours of the Horizon Court buffet were particularly generous--breakfast lasted until 11:30, lunch until 3:30, afternoon snack (a scaled down lunch) until 5:30 and a full scale dinner until 11.
Frederiksted, St. Croix, U.S.V.I. - We were the only ship on this sleepy island and enjoyed the pristine water (with full conch shells on the beach!) and slow pace. There aren't many tourist shops, though, and not surprisingly, prices were high.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten - Fabulous port that is not only very attractive but also offers a ton to do. The waterfront is filled with colorful and tropical foliage, a beach, affordable restaurants and bars, and the shopping is varied and has some of the best prices of the Caribbbean islands.
Gustavia, St. Barthelemy - This was a terrific treat. A compact, picturesque harbor with so many gigantic yaghts, it looked like a boatyard. French is both the language and way of life here, and it had the feel of the French Riveria, complete with outdoor cafes, chic shops and pastry. You can leave your wallet onboard the ship, though, as a garden-variety refrigerator magnet will set you back nearly $10.
San Juan, Puerto Rico - One of my favorite ports and this year, I found it better than ever. It was colorful, vibrant, an interesting mix of European and Caribbean ar chitecture, and best of all, everything's walkable.
Labadee (Cruiseline Private Island) - We've been here before and it's marvelous. The water is clear, the foliage is tropical and the shopping's fun. Alas, this trip it rained all day.
Celebrity Constellation Celebrity Constellation - The AquaSpa Café, located in the area of the Solarium, is a hidden gem. This tiny café, which is only open for breakfast and lunch, is oriented toward more healthy fare, and serves (at no cost) made-to-order salmon, Atlantic Char and tuna. It's a great alternative to the MDR and Oceanview Café.
Nassau, Bahamas - A colorful and interesting port. We just walk around and take photos of the signs, flowers and people-watch.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten - A great port that has everything--beach right at the pier, once you tender to town, affordable and interesting shopping, casinos and myriad water sports.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas - We've enjoyed going up the long staircase to the pirate's castle and taking photos of the sweeping views of the harbor, as well as the old synagogue.
Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida - N/A We live in Florida, so we drive to the port, pick up the ship and drive home. We don't even spend the night before here anymore, preferring to avoid the traffic and high expense by staying in a nearby town.
Allure of the Seas Allure of the Seas - Make reservations for the shows online before the trip. The standby lines were quite lengthy. Also, see the DVD of "Chicago" at home before seeing the production on the ship. It will help you with the story line and familiarize you with the music, which is quite good.

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replied to the discussion, Knowing the ABCs on the cruiseline forum.

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reviewed their Caribbean - Eastern cruise on Navigator of the Seas and gave it 4 stars!

shared a quick tip for Navigator of the Seas"We used My Time dining and went very smoothly. We never waited for more than about 10 minutes, and were always able to get our choice--a table for two."

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received a helpful vote on their Oasis of the Seas cruise review - When Bigger is Best: a Review of the Oasis