March 2014 - Navigator of the Seas to Caribbean - Western
This started out as the "Cruise from Hell" thanks to a ship colliding with a barge in the Houston ship channel the day before we were supposed to board and depart. The port was shut down, so our ship did not get into port until late Sunday, which meant we were not allowed to board until after 9:00pm. Our time to arrive at port was 10:20, per Royal. We got there at about 10:15pm. Four hours later we were finally in our cabin after standing in the cold rain for several hours while the custom agents took 10 minute breaks every 15 minutes. The baggage handlers had either gone home for the day, or were napping somewhere, as most people had to carry all their baggage through the check-in line, which only added to the delays. We did not actually leave Galveston until Wednesday and had two of our three ports cancelled. This was very disappointing and to be fair, it was not Royal's fault. They did offer all guests a 100% refund (which we still haven't received) and allowed us to stay and enjoy what was left of the cruise. So this is a pretty generous offer by Royal (if they ever issue the credit). The ship itself was in pretty good condition. Considering it was just 'refurbished' this winter though, there were some things they over looked. Some of the chairs in one of the bars had very noticeable tears in the upholstery, and carpets on the deck our cabin was on were very worn looking. The cabin itself was in very good condition and had more than ample storage space. We did not get to meet our cabin attendant until Thursday, which is very strange, we normally meet them upon boarding. When we did finally meet here, she was very nice and easy to talk to. There was also no 'Welcome Aboard' presentation, just a lot of looks from some of the crew that showed they were less than happy to have us on board that late at night.
Most of the crew were very nice and friendly, one notable exception. One morning in the dining room, we asked for salsa, and the waiter snapped “You will have to wait!”. There are many much more polite ways of saying “Please wait a minute”. Bar service in the dining rooms was generally very slow. Also, some of the bartenders seemed to be annoyed when you asked them for a drink, kind of odd since that is their job.
Some of the things we didn’t like about this ship:
You cannot get food in any of the bars, not even popcorn.
None of the bars had outdoor seating on the deck, other than the pool bars. By contrast, the Carnival Magic has a lovely pub with food service and indoor or outdoor seating. We were also on a NCL ship a few years ago where you could order (at extra cost) king crab legs at one of the bars.
The ship has a nice adults only area, unfortunately, they do not keep children out. They even serve them sodas from the bar and did a poor job of keeping them out of the pool and spas and off of the chairs. There are not a lot of chairs in full sun, and as it was rather cool while in Galveston, they were always full, and on at least one occasion there were children in them while an older gentleman (probably in his 80’s) had to lean against a wall because of the children occupying the chairs. Which is totally unnecessary as there was a lot of family seating to the rear of the ship around the main pool. This is the first cruise we have been on where kids just ran wild on the ship, playing tag in the elevators, tying them up, so that guests with disabilities that could not use the stairs had to wait a long time to be able to get in the elevator.
The food was of good quality, just not much variety. On other cruises, there were always new choices every day on the dinner menu, not so much on this cruise. The Buffett was not as good as what we have seen on other ships either.
Overall I would grade:
B for the ship
C for the crew (a few rude crew members make you forget the friendly ones pretty quickly)
B for the food
C for the entertainment, some good shows, some not so good, but not a ‘comedy club’ with nightly shows like other lines offer.
F for boarding process (there is no reason it should take 4 hours to go through the registration process)
A for exiting the ship both for the excursion and leaving the ship at the end of the cruise