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Andrew72681

Navigating to CocoCay May 17th-20th 2019

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3-the key

I’ll start day -3 with the following disclaimer. 

I know this is a very polarizing topic, if you don’t believe the key is a potentially valuable tool and is “taking benefits away” this isn’t going to be a blog entry for you. Feel free to skip ahead or check out @twangster ‘s great pictures from Ovation. 

Not long as the key was rolled out almost fleetwide, we decided to add the key to this sailing for several reasons. First, being a short sailing getting to the fun part of the weekend faster is key. Secondly, on a short sailing the cost benefit analysis leans more heavily towards it making sense. An embarkation lunch plus WiFi almost makes the package a wash for the four of us even if we don’t use any of the other benefits. 

We’ll definitely use the priority seating when it comes to Showgirl and the ice show, and depending on timing we’ll hopefully get to use the reserved flowrider time. With the new Pier at CocoCay making it easier to get back and forth, even if the reserved Flowrider time is in the early afternoon we may head back onboard then head into the Waterpark again. After sailing on Harmony, my daughter took a huge liking of the Flowrider and won’t let us book a ship that doesn’t have one. 

We will potentially look at the Key for our August sailing as well, provided that the cost comes down, we were able to get it for this sailing at 19.99 per person per day. 

Getting down to crunch time, less than 48 hours till the flight leaves.

 

 

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If anyone needs yet another reason to not fly in the day before, remember that even when you fly into the day before that doesn’t even always work. Got a text message while at lunch that Southwest had cancelled our 4:35 pm flight. So rushed to gather our options called the A-list number and got the four of us on the 11:05 flight. Means taking more time off work and school but less risk of not getting there. 

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On 5/12/2019 at 5:46 PM, SpeedNoodles said:

We have room 1388 (corner aft) for our Dec cruise.  It isn't a Jr suite (booo - couldn't talk the shipmates into that price), but we decided we'd love the extra balcony space. I'm looking forward to what your impressions of the impact of the Windjammer are for your location.

Same here but other corner on Mariner.  When is your cruise?

OP looking forward to cruise.  Your stateroom will have some great views. Safe travels

 

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Haven’t even left for the trip yet and already missed a day of pre trip blog posting. Yesterday was a blur with a work trip and then getting our flight cancelled. Thank goodness for Southwest A-list status as it got us right through for rebooking. I had a random encounter on the plane home yesterday, sat behind Oliver North of Iran-Contra fame from the 80s. 

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2 packing- packing is a very personal experience so I’ll keep this short. I managed to pack in about five minutes, clothes all rolled and ready to go. My wife takes hours which I’ll never understand, so I’ll stop trying. 

We did add something new this trip, we upgraded our basic Gecko bag to an upgraded backpack. It’s a great bag to carry everything onto an island and will keep everything dry even if submersed. 

Also, since we’re carrying on and the original plan was to arrive late, we had sunblock delivered from Amazon right to the hotel.

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1 travel day story

Well, we’re finally here, travel day. After the cancelation I spoke of earlier it meant sitting in traffic before heading to the airport. Once there though everything went smoothly and we took off right on time. During the flight though a group of six girls in their twenties loudly talked through the whole flight. At one point we had to remind them that a child was in front of them as the language was out of control. 

We tossed back and forth the idea of renting a car, but in the end just decided to Uber down to Miami and over to the cruise port. 

For this stay we decided on a property we hadn’t tried before, the JW Marriott Marquis Miami. It was the nicest of the properties closest to the port that also can ne paid for with a Marriott Annual Free night certificate. 

 

There was a 25 dollar per night “Destination fee” but it included the entire game area downstairs with Virtual Bowling, football, golf school lessons, and more. We checked out the concierge lounge in the evening but it was already past the evening  hors d'oeuvres time frame so I can’t comment on the quality of those. From our room we could even catch a glimpse of the aft of empress of the seas  

Overall, the common areas are very well taken care of, but it still pales in comparison to the room we were given. When we arrived they let us know that we had been upgraded to a Bay view corner suite, which featured 1.5 bathrooms, separate bedroom area, and even an office area. The bathroom is gorgeous and well appointed with a separate water closet, bathtub, and huge steam shower. Amenities were nearly full size from Apothecary. 

Tomorrow’s the day, can’t wait to board navigator. Don’t imagine I’ll be up early to watch the ships come in.

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38 minutes ago, MrsFL said:

My husband and I leave next Monday on Navigator.  I can't wait to hear all about your cruise!

Yeah, I admit it, I’m a bad live blogger, trying to fit in everything on Navigator and CocoCay and trying to write it all out while doing it was impossible. Will get it all hammered out today or tomorrow. 

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On 5/20/2019 at 10:03 AM, Andrew72681 said:

Yeah, I admit it, I’m a bad live blogger, trying to fit in everything on Navigator and CocoCay and trying to write it all out while doing it was impossible. Will get it all hammered out today or tomorrow. 

 

2 hours ago, Matt said:

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The delay is because you encountered Shotsberg 😉

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Embarkation Day Part 1-as usual I couldn’t sleep as I was ready to run to the pier as soon as the sun came up. Unfortunately I’d have to wait until 10 o’clock to check in at the pier. We grabbed some breakfast at the Hotels Concierge lounge, or more specifically the family did as I never eat as I’m rearing to get going and get onboard. While the lounge at the property is on the 36th floor with great views, breakfast is on the 2nd floor with basically no view. 

Once 9:45 arrived  requested our Lyft XL to the port which was 18.51 and was a suburban so plenty of room for us and our bags. It worked out great as the driver was around the corner so we waited less than a minute. Total time to Terminal A was only 12 minutes, and we passed right by the Intercontinental property so many of you like. At that time of the morning the departing crowd had left and the incoming crowd was probably still sleeping or working so they’re was zero traffic. There was no wait to unload our bags, and we quickly made it past a slew of porters offering to take our carry on bags. 

Terminal A from the second you pull in is in a class of its own, the drop off area is full covered so provides lots of shade for those hot Miami afternoons. Once you hit the doorway you’re right in front of the beautiful Propellor-mobile that looks like something I’d have loved over my crib as a baby. Within a few steps we were escorted over to a red carpet and into the elevator towards the suites-pinnacle check-in/ waiting area. The area itself is well appointed with comfortable couches and chairs where each guest is checked in. Rather than the traditional waiting in line, a representative comes to you for check in and to verify that your picture works. About 3 minutes after arriving in the area we were all checked in and asked to wait until they got the B2B cruisers off and back on. The area has refreshments while you wait but there wasn’t much waiting. 

We also saw a RC luminary as Super MARIO was on this cruise with us  

At about 10:45 a representative came out and let us know that they were finishing up a coast guard drill but we’re going to start boarding. However, guest related services would not open till 11 which meant some waiting to drop off our carry on luggage, but no big deal. My wife walked our luggage to the theater while my daughter and I went to hook to secure our dinner reservations. We had already purchased the ultimate dining package so it was a simple two minute conversation to secure Jamie’s, Hooked, and Izumi for the three nights. 

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Once we had given up our backpacks and carry on luggage, we walked the promenade before heading to Chops for our Key Lunch. 

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Playmakers

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To Dry For

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Bamboo Room Menu

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We also got to walk to through the Solarium which unlike Harmony has its own pool not just hot tubs  

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We arrived to Chops at about 11:20 and they weren’t yet ready for lunch. I’d prefer if they just started letting people in for lunch as it would cut down on some of the traffic and rush once 11:30 hits. 

We were promptly seated but that’s where the delays start. It took quite a while to get drinks, then to get orders in, and even longer to get lunch. Hopefully they’ll get the program refined as they don’t seem ready to serve 100 guests all at once. 

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It took till almost 1 o’clock to finish lunch, but that want a big issue as since there was a coast guard drill the rooms wouldn’t be ready till 2 o’clock. We then took time to change and headed for the pools and slides. After some fun in the sun and trying out the new slides for the first time we walked down to our room on Deck 10. It was timed perfectly as right as we hit the steps there was an announcement that rooms were ready. 

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Once inside we were pleasantly surprised by the general space of our junior suite room 1394. There was ample storage and plenty of room to move. 

The bathroom however was a big step down from the same room type from Harmony with very little room and still having a shower curtain rather than glass doors  

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The walk in closet was also much smaller and I’m not sure it actually qualifies as a walk in closet. On Harmony you could have slept an extra person in the closet  

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The bed was quite comfortable, but the sofa bed was rather scratchy, but got the job done.

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Our aft balcony was a great find, and in total was probably about a hundred square feet with four standard chairs and two lounge chairs. The view was not listed as obstructed but as you can see the view down was partially obstructed.

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Since you’re not allowed onto the Helipad on Oasis Class vessels, we decided to take in part of the Sail Away from there (a certain blogger said it was “too hot” out there. 

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We decided to see how the sail away looked from the balcony. Norwegian Sky departed right before us and Carnival Victory was right behind us  

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Dinner on the first night lead us to our favorite meal from Harmony, Jamie’s Italian. It’s our eight year old daughters favorite, and she nearly screamed when I let her know yesterday that Oasis wouldn’t get a Jamie’s when it gets Amplified. 

Jamie’s features the updated menu that rolled out when Navigator was relaunched, which for my wife meant I was missing the crispy Salmon she adored on Harmony. 

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The location is also a big departure from Harmony where the restaurant is off of Central Park, here it sits off the rather noisy WindJammer buffet. This does however mean it gets some stunning ocean views during sunset. 

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Garlic bread

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Calamari

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Bruschetta (which I caught one bite late)

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Short Ribs

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Shrimp Linguine

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Truffle Linguine 

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Pan roasted salmon. This one was a bit of a miss as the red sauce didn’t help the dish  

 

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Tagliatelle Bolognese. This is my second favorite bolognese out there, only behind Lidia Bastianich’s recipe. Which unfortunately takes a full day to make. 

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After dinner we scurried down to studio B for ISkate. This show was much better received by the family than the forced “we do what we want” ISkate show on Harmony. The choreographed drone routine was awesome. 

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The routines in the show also seemed more coordinated and skilled even including an on ice backflip from one of the skaters. There must have been 15 costume changes during the show.

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The conclusion of the show was also where we first, and last saw Hugo, our cruise director. I got too accustomed on NCL of seeing the CD’s just walking around and being part of the action. On RC they seem to take a much more business oriented MC role  

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After the show I headed down to the casino, which seemed to feature several oversights when it came to design. There’s just too many tables crammed in to where you can’t get buy when someone is sitting down. During my visits there it was a mixed bag of dealers mostly unfortunately featuring less than enthusiastic personalities. It’s a huge departure from the rest of the crew who actually seems happy to be there. 

Once she saw it in the cruise compass, Addie wanted to stay up for the Midnight balloon drop. I was ready to go to bed by then, knowing there was a long day upcoming at CocoCay. Addie won out and we crowded into the Promenade just before midnight. 

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Waking up at 7:30 for Perfect Day was both a blessing and a curse. As I got up, I noticed the floor near the front of the cabin was wet, which we eventually found out was coming out of a pump room outside our room. I quickly moved into mouth-wide-open smiling at the view from our aft balcony as Navigator had backed into its space on the new pier. 

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Disembarking was a breeze as most others were sleeping at 8am, while I was skipping across the pier ready to be near the front of the line for DareDevils peak.

Once inside of Perfect Day we immediately made a bee-line for thrill Waterpark. As we didn’t bring waterproof cameras and mounts we set our stuff down and headed for the slides. That means I don’t have any cool pictures or videos, but luckily @Matt took lots, including the Drop Slides that he thought he might die on 😜

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We spent a bit of time at the wave pool, which during the morning had waves big enough to make us feel like we were on a fishing boat on the show Deadliest Catch. According to others they toned down the waves later in the day. We also made our way over to my new favorite pool in the world, the Oasis Lagoon. 

The Oasis Lagoon is not only big, but also very well thought out. It’s got plenty of seating around the pool, lots of ledges and chairs inside the pool, and trees to add some natural shade. The swim-up bar was very nice to have, as the waiter from onboard neglected us each time he walked by. The bar would however take on a “meat market” vibe later in the day. Most of that is probably because of the three day cruise, but time will tell.  

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At 11:30 lunch opened up at Skippers Grill. If we’re comparing the food at CocoCay to Labadee, CocoCay is a new Michelin starred restaurant compared to a Shoney’s. I was so pleasantly surprised with the variety and quality of the food on CocoCay. And that was even before discovering the Snack Shack. 

As @Matt  has mentioned, they’re chicken sandwich is delicious. I’m really hoping they don’t cost-cut the quality out of the CocoCay food because they knocked it out of the park.

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On our way back onboard we found the stowaway piano player technically not being a stowaway. Perhaps he was doing his @BrandonOwen impression and trying to stowaway on the island  

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After we got back on, we found an industrial dryer in the room, and also found that the plumber who plugged in the dryer had left the bathroom door open which had led to a Vortex of Toilet Paper (Which would be a great punk rock band name)

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We also discovered the pitfalls of having a private island where the drink package carries over. I witnessed more than one person needing to be pushed to their room in a wheelchair because they had over indulged on the island. One woman I saw was screaming in the hallway and didn’t know where her room was. 

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24 minutes ago, Andrew72681 said:

During my visits there it was a mixed bag of dealers mostly unfortunately featuring less than enthusiastic personalities.

I was also less than impressed with the dealers in the casino when I was on Allure. It was so bad I actually mentioned it in my after cruise survey. I could deal with less than enthusiastic personalities, but they annoyed me because they didn’t seem to care if other players were breaking the rules. I actually got into a mini confrontation with another player when they tried to take my (winning) bet off the roulette table which would have been avoided if the dealer called them out on touching the chips before the marker was off the table. 

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Dinner on night two took us to Hooked Seafood for the first time. Hooked is located right by the theater and has doors that fully close, so avoided the same noise issues that plague Chops and Jamie’s. 

All things considered, I’d put Hooked at the bottom of the Specialty Dining restaurants onboard. The items that were fried had a breading that lacked flavor, and the “Maryland Crab Cake” that is on the menu doesn’t belong in the middle of the sea. Our server Chedee (first syllable sounds like Cheddar) was great and was the highlight of the meal.  

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Hooked Sunset

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Calamari and Peppers

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Shrimp Cocktail

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Surf and Turk, Lobster Mac and Cheese, and grilled corn 

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Whole Maine Lobster

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Lobster a Roll

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Seafood Platter

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Hooked Sunset

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Whoopie Pies

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Caramel Bread Pudding

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Boston Cream Pie

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After dinner we walked around the ship a bit as Navigator has a great ambiance on the pool deck at night. We also used this opportunity to play some miniature golf in the dark before heading to bed.

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8 minutes ago, spiralqueen said:

I was also less than impressed with the dealers in the casino when I was on Allure. It was so bad I actually mentioned it in my after cruise survey. I could deal with less than enthusiastic personalities, but they annoyed me because they didn’t seem to care if other players were breaking the rules. I actually got into a mini confrontation with another player when they tried to take my (winning) bet off the roulette table which would have been avoided if the dealer called them out on touching the chips before the marker was off the table. 

I know we shouldn’t deal in generalities, but they seem to hire angry Eastern Europeans that make me want to gamble less and less. At least when I’m in Vegas losing my shirt, there’s a dealer with a great life story who can regale me with tales of how great Vegas was in the 70s and that time he was working for the Mob. 

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2 hours ago, Andrew72681 said:

We also discovered the pitfalls of having a private island where the drink package carries over. I witnessed more than one person needing to be pushed to their room in a wheelchair because they had over indulged on the island. One woman I saw was screaming in the hallway and didn’t know where her room was. 

Wow! 😯

Is this a regular occurrence in Coco Cay?

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12 hours ago, Andrew72681 said:

We were promptly seated but that’s where the delays start. It took quite a while to get drinks, then to get orders in, and even longer to get lunch. Hopefully they’ll get the program refined as they don’t seem ready to serve 100 guests all at once. 

I had same experience on Mariner. Lunch took almost two hours.

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