Our cruise is here, and we're ready to board Navigator of the Seas for a 7-night Mexican Riviera cruise.
My family and I flew from Orlando to Los Angeles earlier this week, so we could spend a few extra days in Los Angeles and take the kids to Disneyland.
The flight over was great, and we stayed at the Residence Inn Anaheim near the Convention Center. It was walkable to Disneyland, and a 40 minute Lyft ride to the port.
Our embarkation time was 12:30pm, so we hung out at the hotel before requesting a Lyft to take us to the port.
When we arrived at the terminal, no one checked anyone's boarding times and was just allowing anyone to check-in. This was disappointing, because not only is it the opposite of what Royal Caribbean has been preaching about the importance of check-in times, but it made for a much more crowded and slow check-in procedure.
Be sure to print out your luggage tags before the cruise, because there was a huge line for people who needed luggage tags. It seems the porters in Los Angeles do not have extra luggage tags on them like the porters in Florida or New York do.
Our kids (6 and 11 years old) are fully vaccinated, so I knew we'd have to still jump through a few hurdles to prove they are vaccinated. Royal Caribbean's check-in system has no mechanism yet to distinguish between vaccinated kids and unvaccinated kids.
We had to first go to the testing area to prove they were vaccinated and skip the test. Then, we had to wait in another (longer) line at check-in for them to once again prove the kids were vaccinated.
The rest of the check-in procedure was easy enough, and we made it onboard the ship.
Navigator looks great, and it's my first time back onboard since 2019.
We knocked out the emuster drill as soon as we could. So easy and fast!
The cabins were not ready until 1pm, so we went up to the pool deck to relax. Kids ate ice cream, while I enjoyed the very comfortable outdoor temperatures. It was partially sunny with highs in the upper 60s.
My wife went to the spa for a pre-booked massage.
The rooms opened up at 1pm. We have two connecting balcony cabins on this cruise, right near the elevator. I'm a big fan of two connecting rooms rather than one cabin with kids. The extra space and bathroom make a big difference.
Next stop was Adventure Ocean to register the kids. I'm disappointed with the Covid restrictions Adventure Ocean has currently. Families are limited to one reservation for the entire 7-night cruise.
If Royal Caribbean feels good about increasing the ship's capacity, Adventure Ocean has to scale up proportionally to match.
I'm hopeful there will be more space available later in the sailing, but the staff gave no indication to expect more times other than to luck out with extra spots. Alas, I know we'll have a good time, but it makes planning for families more of a challenge.
For lunch, we stopped by the Windjammer. Like much of the ship, there's plenty of Christmas decorations, including a gingerbread village.
Speaking of decorations, there is the large tree on the Royal Promenade too.
I also noticed a mailbox for letters to Santa near Guest Services.
Back in the room, it was time to get ready for our evening activities.
As you may know, Royal Caribbean announced last week stricter face mask rules. Those new rules are in place for this sailing, which basically mean you cannot take your mask off for being vaccinated in a vaccinated-zone.
Likewise, you cannot walk around with a drink or piece of food without a mask. So far on the first day, mask compliance has been pretty good across the ship.
I ran up to the pool deck to catch the evening sunset. Too many clouds to make for a great sunset, but the colors in the sky were nice.
While on the top deck, there was a hot chocolate station set up, where you could optionally get liquor added to it for the adults.
Dinner tonight was in the main dining room. I had gone down earlier to check with the head waiter about our table assignment to ensure we weren't in the unvaccinated deck, and sure enough we were not.
The dining room was pretty full, and decorated for Christmas.
After dinner, we took a stroll down the Royal Promenade and checked out the Bamboo Room.
At about 8:30 I called Adventure Ocean to see if there were any spots (they opened at 8pm on the first day) and sure enough there were! I dropped the kids off, and then met my wife back in the English style pub.
I love the music of the pub, which always has a guitarist playing.
On this ship, some friends that had sailed a few times on Navigator since the restart had "warned" the pub staff to expect me, and we had a nice laugh together.
Tomorrow is a sea day, as we sail south to Mexico.
Guest services told me on two separate occasions we have about 2600 passengers onboard. They did not yet have a final count, but said we are at about 60% capacity on this sailing.
We have the new cans of water on Navigator (instead of the bottles).
The Windjammer is open for dinner on this sailing.