Our Families First Cruise: Eastern Mediterranean Aug 4-11, 2013
Sail Date: August 04, 2013
Reviewed: 3 years ago
Traveled As: Family (older children)
Room Type: Suite
Overall a great cruise and experience! (My rating and my two sons rating for this trip was 5 stars, but my wife gave it 3 stars, so this rating reflects the family average - if the system allowed half star ratings, ours would have been 4.5 stars) This was our families first cruise - with our two boys ages 19 and 15, both very athletic and in super shape. We are working professionals located in Silicon Valley, CA, with our oldest son in college and younger son a Junior in HS. We opted for two suites next door to each other on the deck 10, giving my wife and I some privacy, and my boys some independence in there own room. Our floor attendant opened the divider on the outside deck to allow quick and easy movement between the rooms - having connecting rooms would have been perfect, as we often do at hotels, but the cruise ship did not offer connecting rooms of the category we booked. However walking outside with the beautiful Mediterranean below, was a nice way to get between the rooms. Overall we were impressed with the suites - separate bedroom and living room area, and a small dining room. The big flat screen TV was connected to a DVD player, which allowed us to catch up on some shows and movies we missed during the busy work year. Our family meals each evening were always enjoyable. We dined in the humongous dining room 3 times, upgraded 2 nights to the speciality venus: Steak House, and Italian, and 2 nights in the cafeteria style dining hall. Considering the number of people on the ship, the food quality was quite good, and the offerings each night were diverse enough to suit all pallets. We also used the health club and spa most days, enjoying spa services on 3 of the nights. The spa experience equaled many we have enjoyed during our hotel based vacations. Not 5 star, but certainly 4 star. Hanging out at the pools turned out to be the number one attraction for by guys and I - I read many books on the to do list, and my guys started their summer reading, and girl watched. A lot of cool activities at the pool with a full range of experience to entertain (nice to take a break from reading to enjoy the sights and fun atmosphere). The single key feature of the cruise that really appealed to our family was waking up each morning in a new port (2 of the days/nights were spent making long crossings without a port of call). We loved not having to pack up our possessions and moving to different cities - past vacations. Being able to stay in one room, not pack up every few days, and have the "cities brought to us" is what sold us on taking future cruises. RC and their partners offer great variety for booking excursions at each port of call. We opted for afternoon excursions allowing the teens to sleep in: we would have lunch, exit the ship just after an early lunch, enjoy the sites, and then back on the ship by 4:00 or 5:00. Great way to see the very basics of Athens, Ephesus, etc, and get in some sunning/ exercising/ relaxing in the late afternoon, before dinner (we generally ate dinner around 9:00 each evening). Navigator of the Sea is a big ship with more than 3,000 people, so before booking a cruise be sure to consider the pros and cons of a bigger ship and all that it offers versus smaller ships. We investigated many smaller CruiseLines like Seabourn, Crystal and Silverseas, but opted for a bigger ship that would offer more for the teens. Our pre-cruise research led us to Royal Caribbean as a good balance of size/features and luxury. My wife was less happy overall with the size of the Navigator and the number of people, and the family agreed that as we did not take full advantage of the teen related activities (rock climbing, teen club, etc) that our next cruise would likely be on a smaller, more luxurious ship. BUT, Nav of the Sea was pretty high-end all things considered. My wife wants to try the next level up in luxury on a smaller ship, so we will likely cruise next summer on a smaller super lux ship, visiting the part of the Mediterranean we missed this past trip (Eastern Med included Rome, Palermo, Athens, Ephesus, and Crete) - next summer will do Western Med which includes Spain, France, etc. Perhaps we won't like the value - as the smaller super lux cruise ships are at least 50-100% more expensive for the larger suite category we desire. And as the Royal Carib experience was very good, we may end up back with RC, all things considered. But won't know until we try it. Thank you RC and Nav of the Sea for such a wonderful experience. Since this was our first cruise experience, we may not have wanted to ever cruise again had things not gone so well. But RC did a fabulous job in all the categories we cared about (for instance the ship had a full casino, but we don't gamble so that did not appeal to us - but its there if you are in to that type of entertainment). In a final, BTW - if you are from the US, and have a child who is not legal in the US (not yet age 21), but who will be legal on the cruise ship (age 18), DEFINITELY work out rules in advance, with respect to alcohol consumption. Our son is not legal in the US, but at age 19 had full access to booze on the ship, and we did need to make a family decision about when and how much, to help him find the right moderation point.
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