Navigator of the Seas

Navigator of the Seas Night Photos

In:
25Feb2014

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

In:
24Feb2014

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.

Atmosphere

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.  

Eats

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.

Overall

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

In:
09Feb2014

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

In:
05Feb2014

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.

Royal Caribbean completes Navigator of the Seas refurbishment

In:
04Feb2014

Royal Caribbean finished refurbishing work on Navigator of the Seas, which will begin offering service from Galveston, Texas tomorrow.

The refurbishment work on Navigator of the Seas is part of Royal Caribbean's fleet wide effort to revitalize all of its cruise ships with features and ammenities first seen on Oasis-class. Unique to Navigator of the Seas, work has been done to give guests a preview of new features on Quantum of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean touts this list of changes that have come to the cruise ship

  • FlowRider surf simulator
  • 81 virtual balcony inside staterooms
  • New panoramic ocean view staterooms
  • New specialty restaurants
    • Sabor Modern Mexican
    • Chops Grille (revamped)
    • Izumi Japanese Cuisine
    • Giovanni's Table
  • Renamed the main dining room to Sapphire
  • New digital signage
  • Bow-to-stern Wi-Fi service
  • New flat-panel televisions in every stateroom
  • An oversized LCD movie screen overlooking the main pool
  • New Diamond Lounge for Crown & Anchor Society loyalty member guests
  • Royal Babies and Tots Nursery added.
  • Champagne Bar has been re-conceptualized into Royal Caribbean’s signature, retro-chic R Bar

Navigator of the Seas to replace Jewel of the Seas in San Juan in 2015

In:
03Feb2014

It looks like part of Royal Caribbean's plans for 2015 include swapping Jewel of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas.  Royal Caribbean will move the larger Navigator of the Seas to San Juan in 2015 according to a report by Caribbean Business.

The change will occur in May 2015 according to the report and is a good sign for the blossoming cruise port of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Caribbean Business writes, "In May 2015, Royal Caribbean is scheduled to replace the Jewel of the Seas—which currently carries out weekly trips, with San Juan as its homeport—with a bigger ship, the Navigator of the Seas." 

Royal Caribbean is rumored to be releasing their 2015/2016 deployment schedule sometime in the timeframe of late February or March 2014.

Photo update: Navigator of the Seas refurbishment

In:
09Jan2014

Royal Caribbean has begun its revitalization effort on Navigator of the Seas that will refurbish the Voyager-class cruise ship.  

Amy Mumford posted this photo of the work being done on the Royal Promenade yesterday, which gives us a glimpse at the scope of work being done.

Photo by Amy Mumford

For a full list of what is being changed on Navigator of the Seas, check out our deck by deck comparisson.

Navigator of the Seas first cruise after refurbishment will be a 5-night sailing from Galveston, Texas followed by 7-night cruises thereafter.  Royal Caribbean Blog will be posting LIVE coverage from her first 7-night sailing on February 9.

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