Navigator of the Seas

Your opinion: How well did Royal Caribbean handle Adventure of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas incidents this weekend?


Over the weekend, Royal Caribbean had two of its ships impacted by two very different issues and we want to know what your opinion of how Royal Caribbean handled these incidents.

Photo by Houston Chronicle

First was Adventure of the Seas, who had a propulsion problem where in the middle of her Southern Caribbean itinerary the ship encountered oil loss from one of her fixipod units that forced its shutdown.  The result was she had to skip a couple of ports and travel at a slower speed.  Adventure of the Seas made it back to port yesterday in San Juan, albeit delayed.

The other incident was Navigator of the Seas was delayed a number of hours from docking in Galveston due to an oil spill in the harbor.  The incident affected other cruise ships as well and Navigator of the Seas was not able to dock in Galveston and let off its passengers and take on the new passengers until late Sunday.

In both cases, Royal Caribbean is being accused by some of poor communications by the cruise line to its passengers in terms of keeping them updated.  Some say Royal Caribbean did not effectively keep passengers onboard and on shore updated with what was happening and what the future may hold.  On the other hand, others point out many of the variables were out of the company's hands and when they did know something, they conveyed it.

We want to know what your opinion is of how Royal Caribbean handled both situations.  Comment in this post if you think they handled it well or not and why!

Oil spill in Galveston delays Navigator of the Seas


A 160,000 gallon oil spill near Galveston, Texas is delaying cruise ships coming and going to the cruise port, including Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas.

The collision between a barge and another vessel Saturday near the Texas City Dike spilled 160,000 gallons of heavy oil into Galveston Bay and has forced the U.S. Coast Guard to close the Houston Ship Channel.

Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas was scheduled to arrive early this morning and let off its passengers while allowing new ones to board but it remains stuck outside the harbor.  

Passenger Jonathan Spoon is aboard the ship and told the Galveston Daily News, "We are being told they are conducting a flyover to see if the ship can make its way into the port (of Galveston) without going through the oil.  There are lots of ships parked all around us. So far no problems on the boat."

He said Royal Caribbean reopened many of the ships restaurants and onboard activities to keep the passengers comfortable. 

Royal Caribbean has not commented on the situation yet, but is monitoring it.

A look at Royal Caribbean's kids club for 3 to 5 year olds


Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean is the award winning kids club the cruise line offers to families of daily activities for kids.  The Aquanauts program is designed for children between the ages of 3 to 5 five years old and on our recent Navigator of the Seas we got a first-hand look at how it all works.

The basics

Aquanauts, and Adventure Ocean in general, is complimentary and offered to all children in the age group.  

The only requirements are the child be 100% potty trained and able to go to the restroom on their own without adult help.  In addition, children cannot wear pull ups or diapers of any kind.

Prior to first bringing your child to Aquanauts, you will need to register him or her.  It involves sharing pertinent information about the children and signing the proper waivers.

There's only one entrance and exit to the Aquanauts room, which requires a a buzzer to be pressed to open the door that also sounds a chime.  This prevents kids from getting out without someone noticing.

Once in, the kids are introduced to the staff via funny names the Adventure Ocean staff give themselves.  Some of the staff on our cruise were nicknamed "Tinker Bell" and "Dino".  Kids are also instructed to take their shoes off, put them away and wash their hands before being allowed to participate.

You can check up on the kids at anytime by calling the Aquanauts room directly and seeing how your child is doing.  


On our cruise, there were three main sessions per day on a sea day: 9am to noon, 2pm to 5pm, 7pm - 10pm. 

On port days, the schedule was simplified to two sessions per day: 9am to 5pm, 7pm - 10pm.

You could also opt in to the 10pm - 2am session for an additional fee of $7 per hour.


One of the first things you might be wondering is what exactly do the kids do.  The Aquanauts program is based around a combination of structured activities and free play.

Activities include story time, coloring, face painting, pirate night and central-theme based activities.  They did a lot and my three year old daughter would come back telling us about the funny things the Adventure Ocean staff took them through.  

They also did a lot of arts and crafts work that would be on display in the room and then eventually brought back to your stateroom.

Of course, there's plenty of free-play time with the toys and facilities available to the kids. Play time is supervised by the Adventure Ocean staff to ensure the kids are safe.


There's only two times the kids are fed and that is on port days around noon or in the Adventure Dining session from 5pm to 7pm.  

The food options depend on how many kids are in that day.  If they have a fair amount of kids, they will order pizza or chicken nuggets from the Windjammer to be delivered to the Aquanauts room.  If they only have a few kids, the staff will escort the children to the Windjammer and let the kids pick their own meal.

For dinner, you can opt into the My Family Time Dining, where if you are in first seating of the Main Dining Room, you can bring your kids to the Main Dining Room, where the kids will be served within 40 minutes and then escorted to Adventure Ocean by the staff directly from the Main Dining Room.  This is open to Adventure Ocean kids between the ages of 3-11.


The staff were quite good at making the kids feel welcome and they really seemed to enjoy their time there.

On paper, Adventure Ocean says Aquanauts parents will get a beeper when dropping the kids off in case the staff needs to get a hold of them.  In practice, we only got a beeper about half the time.  Not a big deal since we never needed it but worth noting nonetheless.

If you're wondering how well the program is run, look no further than the fact my daughter cried just about every time we picked her up because she did not want to leave.  Once she got over it, she would then begin telling us everything she did that day and would constantly ask us when she could go next.

There are no means for the children to nap at Aquanauts, but the break in sessions between noon and 2pm is when I assume most kids take their naps.  

The late night session starting at 10pm was a great bonus, even with the additional cost.  Getting a little extra time after dinner was a treat for me and my wife since we had second seating dinner on our cruise.  Well worth the extra cost.

The biggest concern for us going into this cruise was the potty situation and often people wonder how strict they are with the potty training.  Any parent will tell you it's very rare for a three year old to be 100%, completely potty trained.  

Basically it comes down to your child not wearing a pull up or a diaper and not soiling themselves during Adventure Ocean.  Our plan was to always bring her to the bathroom right before going to Aquanauts.  This worked well although she did report going to to the restroom on her own multiple times so clearly when properly motivated she did well with it.

I think the key is to make sure your child is aware that they need to be able to go by themselves to the bathroom without anyone helping.  Going beforehand is also good practice to ensure it's less of an issue.

`Overall I found the Adventure Ocean program to be run well and the thing my daughter looked forward to the most about the cruise. For parents, the Adventure Ocean programis a great means of getting some time to yourselves while the kids have a blast playing with other kids in a supervised environment.

Restaurant Review: Giovanni's Table on Navigator of the Seas


Of all the specialty restaurants on Navigator of the Seas, the one that slides in "under the radar" has to be Giovanni's Table and I'm not exactly sure why.

Giovanni's Table serves family-style Italian food and replaced Portofino's as the Italian specialty restaurant onboard Navigator of the Seas in February 2014.  

This is our second time eating at Giovanni's Table, with our first back on Oasis of the Seas in 2010.  I rather enjoyed my meal last time so this time we wanted to try lunch and see how good (or bad) Giovanni's Table is on Navigator of the Seas.


Giovanni's Table is located on deck 11 near the Windjammer and across from Chops Grille.   As I stated earlier, it was added as part of the ship's refurbishment and I made reservations online as soon as they became available.

When I showed up at 12:30pm for our lunch reservation, I found literally no one else in the restaurant. At the time this was our first specialty restaurant of the cruise so we thought maybe they just weren't popular but later found all the other specialty restaurants onboard packed. 

The space Giovanni's Table occupies is a large rectangular room, with lots of blues and whites. There's no checkerboard red and black stereotypical Italian restaurant decor here, it looks more like its upscale Portofino sister than Sorrento's Pizzeria.

The nice thing about eating lunch at Giovanni's Table is you can see the ocean quite easily.  We were seated at a window table and being able to watch the ocean during our meal was calming and quite beautiful.  

I often point out Chops Grille misses out on having a view since it's only open for dinner and glare from the lights prevents from seeing outside, so it's nice having a view with our meal at Giovanni's Table.


The menu at Giovanni's Table offers a number of choices, which are all supposed to be family style.  Family style usually means it's a large serving meant to be shared among two or more people.  

Frankly, I found most dishes to be small enough for just one person to enjoy, although I may be a victim of gluttonous American dining standards.  That's in contrast to my time on Oasis of the Seas a few years ago when our meal at Giovanni's Table had much larger serving sizes.  That isn't a bad thing necessarily, just pointing out the difference.

As with many Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants, you can order as much as you like from the menu so we started off with appetizers.

The Caprese salad is always a good choice and we were quite pleased with the freshness of the ingredients.  

I also ordered the baked eggplant parmigiana.   I'm a bit of a connoisseur of eggplant parmigiana, as it's become my go-to Italian dish in recent years.  It wasn't just fried eggplant in sauce with some cheese, rather the eggplant was more lightly fried and then baked in with a combination of a great sauce and light cheese.  I really enjoy it.

Last, but not least, my wife also wanted to sample their Caesar salad.  My wife's ideal Caesar salad is a salad where it's only made up of the dark green lettuce leaves, as opposed to the light green crunchy part.  This salad was about as close to perfection as she's seen in some time in that regard.

For our entrees, I decided to keep it traditional and try their lasagna and meatballs.  First came the lasagna, which is described by Royal Caribbean as a traditional meal lasagna. 

What I liked about the lasagna was that it was topped in meat sauce and a light use of cheese (not the shredded kind).  I feel like lasagna should be more about the meat and pasta and less about the cheese and this hit the nail on the head.

I ordered the meatballs because the waiter mentioned the meatballs as being what the restaurant was known for and I think I read a few other places about the meatballs too. 

Being someone who usually goes for a "When in Rome..." kind of attitude, I ordered the veal meatballs to give it a try.

I will be honest and say I did not love the meatballs, however, I feel that could be because I don't really like veal and not because the meatballs were of poor quality.  

Dessert at Giovanni's Table is offered from the dessert cart (there is no menu, per se).  The waiter brings the cart over and you pick out what you would like.

My wife decided to try the pappardelle pasta in a radicchio cream and pancetta.  It sounded good to her but it was something she had never tried before.

She found the pasta to be interesting and she ate it but different than what she was used to ordering at an Italian restaurant.  I think she liked it overall but noted it was a little more different than she thought it would be.

I was stuffed so I took the chocolate cake to try and it was tasted great, although I chose not to eat more than a bite or two.

My wife sampled the canoli because in her perfect world, after the Caesar salad with only dark green leaves are served, it will be followed by a parade of canolis.  She really enjoy their canoli and gave it a thumbs up.


Giovanni's Table stood out for us because of the freshness of the food we had.  My pet peeve is food that tastes like it just came out of a microwave but I really felt like what we ordered was prepared at the time and tasted wonderful.

It's also worth noting lunch is only $15 per person, which for what you get is a great value.  Given what you get for the money, it's one of the better deals on Navigator of the Seas and for lunch it was well worth it.

I also need to point out how good our waiter was because my daughter was in a foul mood that day (she needed a nap and was hungry).  Had the restaurant not been empty, I'm sure me or my wife would have brought her back to the stateroom as not to bother the other diners.

Our waiter really went above and beyond by trying to entertain her with tricks, tours of the galley and even letting her sit on the Vespa scooter that is near the entrance.  The little things he did to keep her happy really made our meal enjoyable and stood out as why specialty restaurant waiters are among the best Royal Caribbean has.

I think the food at Giovanni's Table is quite good and if you like Italian food at all, it's hard not to go wrong here.  I won't pretend that the food at Sabor and Chops Grille were tastier, but considering Giovanni's Table is open for lunch whereas the others are not, I think it makes for a perfect choice for lunch.

Giovanni's Table is open for lunch 12:00pm to 3:30pm and open for dinner 6:00pm to 10:00pm and we reviewed Giovanni's Table on Navigator of the Seas.

Navigator of the Seas Night Photos


We're suckers for night photos on Royal Caribbean ships because of how beautiful everything looks lit up with the lights.  So it made sense that on our recent Navigator of the Seas cruise, we flexed our photography muscle (which admittedly is not very strong) and took as many night photos as we could find.

Here's our gallery of the better night photos from Navigator of the Seas.  Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as we enjoyed taking them!

Restaurant Review: Chops Grille on Navigator of the Seas


Chops Grille on Navigator of the Seas isn't new to the ship but since the ship emerged from drydock in February 2014, they were the first ship to debut a brand new menu that if successful will be rolled out to the entire fleet.  We took it upon ourselves to try out the new menu to evaluate it for all of you (it's a tough job, but someone has to do it!).

A little background first, Chops Grille has been renamed, "Chops Grille: The New American Steakhouse" and is decribed as marrying "contemporary flair to traditional steakhouse offerings".  What this means is Royal Caribbean wanted to match what land based steak restaurants are doing with adding dry-aged steaks to the menu.

Like Sabor Modern Mexican, this new change is part of a larger effort by Royal Caribbean's new head of food operations to bring more contemporary food choices to the cruise line.   And also like Sabor, Royal Caribbean is using Navigator of the Seas as a test for how guests react and if positive enough, will roll the changes out to other ships in the fleet.


The location and general decor of Chops Grille remains the typical dark wood with reds and gold you may be used to seeing at Chops.  

The restaurant on Navigator of the Seas has two distinct rooms that are connected, the first room is rectangular in shape and is what you see when you walk in, with a circular room attached to the end of the first room.

There was not much, if anything, noticeable that changed here since the refurbishment.  I can only assume the chairs or tables have been updated but it looked like the typical Chops Grille experience.

There is one wall of Chops Grille that is made up of glass that overlooks the ocean, but because it's night, the glare of the lights inside the restaurants makes seeing outside virtually impossible.  


The menu at Chops Grille is where the changes have really occurred and aside from the dry-aged steaks, there have been minor menu changes.  

We noticed some entrees and appetizers have been removed or changed.  As an example, there used to be two options for the filet mignon (6oz and 8oz) and now there is just one.  Most of the signature favorites remain on the menu.

There are some new options to the menu such as the Veal Chop Parmesan, slow broiled with caramelized shallots and topped with parmesan herb butter, a Slow-braised Short Rib of Beef with Bordelaise sauce, and a Dry-aged Steak Burger served on a brioche bun and topped with melted gruyere and pancetta.

The big change is the addition of the dry-aged steaks. There are two new premium selections, a 16 Oz. dry-aged NY Strip Steak and a 20 Oz. dry-aged Porterhouse Steak (an additional $18 and $19 respectively), each USDA prime beef, dry-aged for four weeks to achieve the pinnacle of flavor, tenderness and aroma.

Royal Caribbean is touting the fact it is the first cruise line to offer dry-aged steaks to its guests.

There are also new sides added to the menu, Truffled French Fries and Gruyere Cheese Tater Tots

Also new is the bread you are served when you are first seated.  Now you get a pretzel bread roll with spread (the salted butter spread appears gone).  Being a fan of pretzel bread, I liked the change and as far as I know, it's the only place onboard the ship to get pretzel bread.

For appetizers, I started out with two favorites from previous trips to Chops Grille: the charred beef carpaccio and french onion soup.

The beef carpaccio is very delicately sliced beef that you literally have to scrape off the plate to eat.  You certainly won't fill up eating this but it's mighty tasty and it's something I seem to always try.

The french onion soup is always a good choice at Chops Grille too, especially when you compare it to the french onion soup offered one of the nights in the main dining room.  It doesn't taste like soup that came from a vat, and the baked cheese that sticks to the side of the bowl is just perfect.  

My wife opted for the crispy goat cheese salad, something new to her, and found it good as well.  I prefer my goat cheese au natural (not fried) but I sampled a few bites and found it a good salad choice overall.

For the entrees, I felt obligated to try the dry-aged steak to see what the big deal was all about. For those unaware, dry-aged steaks is the process of hanging the meats and letting time and microbes do their magic to enhance the flavor of the beef.  

Dry-aging beef takes time, usually 21-28 days, and as a result costs more money because the restaurant ties up cash in inventory that’s just sitting around, losing water weight and literally shrinking.  The benefit is the flavors get concentrated, similar to how a reducing sauce becomes richer.  It's become a big fad among steakhouses these days and Royal Caribbean wanted in on the action.

It will cost you extra to try the dry-aged steaks, about another $20 to be exact.  So your $35 meal jumps to $55 for just one person, but you are getting an opportunity to sample arguably one of the best cuts of steak at sea and when you factor in the appetizers and desserts you also get for the price, it's still not a bad deal overall.

I chose the dry-aged NY strip steak and as you might imagine it tasted really good.  Sometimes when I order steak I get halfway through and start to feel "steak fatigue", but this cut was quite good and I really enjoyed the whole thing.  

I'm by no means a steak expert or someone who knows steak well enough to really know if the extra cost was worth it but I figure if you are going to order steak, go with their best choice.  It certainly among the better steaks I've ever eaten.

My wife, far less adventurous than me, stuck with her tried and true filet mignon.  She reported it tasting as good as ever and that's one thing I really enjoy about Chops.  It's a very consistent experience and one place you can count on for an excellent meal.

As I mentioned earlier, there were two new sides and we ordered both the tater tots and fries, along with mushrooms.  The tater tots weren't as good as they sounded but the truffle fries made up for the difference.  The mushrooms were great as always and remains one of my favorite sides at Chops Grille to have with my steak.


Dessert was next and of course I felt so full by this point, like I do every time I eat at Chops.  Nonetheless, we ordered some dessert to try.  

My wife wanted to order just the fresh baked cookies but our waiter actually warned her to order something else too.  He didn't say the cookies were bad by any means, but that they were not nearly as good as some of the other dessert options.

The cookies were better than what you could get anywhere else on the ship but the waiter was correct in that they were not overly special.

I went with my tried-and-true red velvet cake.  There had been rumors it was removed from the menu but it was available, although it did seem smaller and with less frosting than other red velvet cakes I've had at Chops.  Nonetheless, it's hard to go wrong with red velvet cake and I enjoyed it.

My wife ultimately chose the huckleberry cheesecake, which the waiter reported was not only new to the menu but also quite popular.  What I liked about it was the huckleberries were not baked into the cake, but just adorned on top.  Once again, the waiter was right that this is a great choice for dessert.


This visit to Chops Grille was about evaluating the new menu and seeing if this is something we think Royal Caribbean should expand to other ships and I think the answer is a definite yes.  I think the new menu offers quite a bit of choices that do not cost extra but for steak lovers, the dry-aged steaks are a real treat.

For me it came down to the cost of paying extra to eat at Chops Grille to begin with and then adding more cost for the dry-aged steaks.  Considering a very good steak on land would likely cost around $50 alone, it's still a good value overall considering you get your other food with it.  

For Royal Caribbean, it will come down to how many people opt for the dry-aged steaks versus do not and if there are enough people ordering them, then perhaps we will see this option on other ships soon.

Otherwise, eating at Chops Grille was a treat and as good as any other Chops Grille I've dined at.  

LIVE photos from Navigator of the Seas


All day today, we're onboard the newly refurbished Navigator of the Seas and will be sharing our photos as we explore what's new and different onboard this beautiful cruise ship.  

This post will be updated regularly throughout the day with new photos, so check back often to see what else is new.  Of course, you can also see photos posted to our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts too.

LIVE photo updates from Navigator of the Seas


Royal Caribbean Blog reader Gary is onboard the first sailing of Navigator of the Seas after her month-long refurbishment and is sending us photos of what's new on the ship.

We will update this post regularly today with new photos showcasing some of the changes coming to the ship.

Around Navigator of the Seas

Renamed Star Lounge

Solera store on the Royal Promenade

New R Bar

FlowRider & Pool Area

Pool area with large LCD screen

Newly moved mini golf course

FlowRider entrance

The FlowRider

Junior Suite

Photo of Gary's junior suite stateroom. Notice the new flat screen LCD television.

Sabor Modern Mexican

Entrance to Sabor Modern Mexican specialty restaurant

A look inside Sabor

Larger dining room inside Sabor

Gary's Observations

  • Plush new carpet in most of the common corridors and stairs. Very nice.
  • New furniture in the lounges(or at least recovered) and bars.
  • Flooring around pool decks either have been power washed or replaced. Again very nice.
  • The golf area is completely new. Flow rider is a big hit.

Thank you to Gary for taking the time to send us these photos and be sure to check this post regularly for more photos.