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WannaCruise

Navigator - Our Cruise to Nowhere

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Introduction

Ok....well we knew that travelling end of August would be a risk due to Hurricane season.  Last summer on the same 4 days, we had amazing weather.  This year,  well, I'm sure most of you have heard of Mr. Dorian (or is Dorian a girl?).  In hindsight though, we were still quite lucky and really had little impact (except missing Coco Cay...boo!).  And my son said many times on this trip "At least we have a story to tell".

This obviously isn't a live review, but I like to write these post review....to share our experience , as I really love hearing about others, plus it's great to help with those post-cruise blues.

First I'll introduce us:

  • DH and myself, both in our 40s
  • DS who is 14
  • DD who is 10

Itinerary:

This was a 4 night Bahamas cruise on Mon Aug 26th - Fri Aug 30th.  It stopped at Nassau, and had a planned stop at CoCo Cay (nope) and a sea day.  

     aka...3 sea days for us 😁

 

You can see from my signature that we've been on a few Royal cruises and we have some more booked between now and Mar 2021.  So I'll sometimes make comparisons to other ships.

This is where I usually post a beautiful picture of the ship from the outside...but this time, I don't have any.  Ugh.... Darn Dorian....I missed getting that great ship photo from the port (will need to search for one for my photobook cover).

     < insert Navigator photo here>

I'll start with saying Navigator is a great ship.  I didn't see it before, but I really love what they did during the amplification.

 

 

 

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Day 0

I won't bore you too much with post-cruise stuff...so will keep it short.

We flew out the day before the cruise on an early morning flight.  Normally it's hard to get the kids up at 5am, but on travel day, no problem.  Flight was uneventful (which is a good thing when flying). When we were waiting for our taxi, we saw probably the hardest downpour that we've ever seen with lightning and thunder.  Not sure if this was the side affects of Dorian, or if this is a normal summer Miami thing, but am guessing the latter.  First time DS noted "at least we have something to tell".

Our hotel reservation was at Hampton Inn Brickell.  Our room wasn't ready yet so we stored our bags, and headed out for lunch and browsed the fancy outdoor mall in the area. Afterwards, we returned to our room and then the kids swam in the pool.  It's not the largest pool for a hotel, but kept them busy for a bit.  At least it was less busy compared to the cruise pool. 😉

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In the evening we headed to a pizza place in the area that we discovered on our last cruise.  They brought out all our meals except for DH's .  After a bit, we asked about his.  We weren't angry or anything but they were quite apologetic and said the kitchen burned it so they made another.  They felt really bad that they gave us his pizza for free....and then brought out a free pizza dessert. We were stuffed, but felt obligated to have it (which really isn't so hard when it involves chocolate).  

After dinner the kids watched tv in the room and DH and I went to the lobby for a wine/beer.  It was an early night as tomorrow was cruise day....and I would be ready to get up and go at about 5:30am...lol.

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Day 1 - Boarding Day

We got up bright and early, eager to head to the port. On our last cruise, we stayed at Hampton Inn in Blue Lagoon.  The breakfast there was ok.  Well, the breakfast at the Hampton Inn Brickell was much better.  They had the usual plus smoothies, fresh cheese and meats, make your own waffles, eggs, etc.  I see now why people comment on it.

On our way out, I took my traditional photo to capture the temperature and time heading to the port.

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The Miami port is great....quick to get in, and modern and clean.  We watched the B2B cruisers walk out of the port, only to stay in the same line to board again.  They need that zero on-board count, but gotta laugh.

We were on-board at 10:38am.  Not bad! 

When we were on Symphony on our last cruise, our DD got her muster bracelet in the port.  This time, they did it once we boarded.  I had a concern of our muster stations as our kids had a different one from us.  I guess our connecting rooms were on the border where they switch to the next muster.  Kind of silly to split up connecting rooms.  So after getting her bracelet, we went to Guest Services to see if we could switch to be the same.  Its not a big deal for the 4pm muster drill, but obviously in a real emergency, there is no way I am separating from my kids.  Anyways, Guest Services said its no problem and that DH and I should just join our kids at their assigned location.  

 

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3 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

Was this the Brickell shopping area?  What did you think of it?

Yes, think it must have been.  Very fancy and upscale, but fun to look around (and our son enjoyed the Apple store). 

If it wasn't drizzling off and on, we might have taken the metromover to Bayside, but we just stayed local with the weather.  I do quite like Miami over Fort Lauderdale.

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Day 1 - Lunch Time

What's the first thing you must do when you board?  Eat, of course!

We avoid the Windjammer on day 1 as it's often nuts.  DH and I were excited that Navigator also has El Loco Fresh so we headed there.  On Navigator, it's right by the pools in one of the corners.  They had the same lunch food as Symphony....the cheese quesadillas, the burritos (all meat options), nachos.  I was disappointed though that they didn't have any dessert as I loved the chocolate dulce de leche.  Not sure if it was in my head , but I didn't find El Loco quite as good on Navigator....but it might have been me missing the chocolate dessert.

After lunch, it was time to slather on the sunscreen and head to the slides.  Best time to avoid the long lineups.  

 

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Cruise Compass

Forgot to mention that we picked up a compass at Guest Services.  Not sure if this is the new look on all ships, or if its just Navigator for its amped up colors, but the compass has a new look.  It took me a bit to get used to it as the items are now in categories, but in the end, I do like it.

e.g. If it's 3pm, then you need to look across the various categories to see what's going on. But it also separates out things if you are not interested (e.g. if have no interest in spa stuff)

 

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Day 1 - Time for the Water Slides

Back to our regular scheduled program....

After covering ourselves with sunscreen, we headed over to the slides.  Line ups at this time were pretty low so it's a great time to try them.  Our kids had such a blast on The Blaster (named appropriately...lol) and went quite a few times.  They also tried The Riptide where you lie on your tummy on the mats and quite enjoyed that one too.

A few warnings about the slides...

  1. I didn't try them, but ours kids did say that it got very hot waiting in the staircase to go on.  This probably isn't as much of an issue during other months, but in August it was uncomfortable for them.  It also stopped them from wanting to go on when we tried on another day and the lines were long.
  2. Not this time, but when they went on the slides again on day 2, someone got stuck.  So in this case, they were waiting about 15 minutes for the ride to start up again (which is when they commented about the heat).  Don't think it happens often, and it's not an issue to get people out, but it takes time as they need to turn off the water, then there are stairs that go to the specific spot where it sometimes happens (its a specific spot near the beginning ), and then wait for the water to flow again.

The line up for The Riptide moves quicker than the line up for The Blaster....but on the flip side, 2 go at a time on The Blaster.

A few photos...

(Taken from the rock wall for a good view)1602563468_IMG_2321(Medium).thumb.jpeg.d949a176967c0f3f83b6d4f6104574ea.jpeg

From the bottom of The Blaster

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A few others  - The Riptide is the pink and blue one.  The Blaster is the yellow and orange one (well, and some pink).

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1 hour ago, WannaCruise said:

Not this time, but when they went on the slides again on day 2, someone got stuck.  So in this case, they were waiting about 15 minutes for the ride to start up again (which is when they commented about the heat).  Don't think it happens often, and it's not an issue to get people out, but it takes time as they need to turn off the water, then there are stairs that go to the specific spot where it sometimes happens (its a specific spot near the beginning ), and then wait for the water to flow again.

This happened periodically on the Aqua Duck on the Disney Dream and Fantasy as well.  One time it was D13 that got stuck. She was so embarrassed because like you described, it was a process to get them unstuck. Your kids are right that waiting in the heat is no fun when that happens. 

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2 hours ago, WannaCruise said:

Cruise Compass

Forgot to mention that we picked up a compass at Guest Services.  Not sure if this is the new look on all ships, or if its just Navigator for its amped up colors, but the compass has a new look.  It took me a bit to get used to it as the items are now in

The Cruise Director on LIB told us earlier this week that they were coming out with a new Compass design this week.  I guess that’s it !

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Day 1 - Some Swimming

Similarly, a great time to go in the pool is first thing on embarkment day (and this turned out to be even more true on day 3).  DH and I didn't go in this time, but our kids swam in the pool.  One complaint they have is they don't like salt water as it hurts the eyes, even with goggles.  

I love what they've done with the pool and deck areas.  The pools have an extra flat area where you can put your feet in and they even have some movable recliners.  Also, on the one pool, they added real stairs, which is great for ones like myself who like to get in the cold water slowly (vs quick "go for it" dunk).  There is also a younger kids splash area at the base of the two pools.  I personally quite like the lively bright colors.  Another thing that they've done that love....and it's made Navigator win over Mariner for this in my rating, is that they have hammocks, cabanas, circular pillow seats (not sure what to call them) all around deck 11 and 12.  And again, everything is colorful and happy.  I really give Royal a 10 for what they did in the amplification.

Of course, you see the expected chair hogs, but one thing that really bugged me is that we saw a hammock hog.  Someone actually left their shawl, shirt and towel sitting on a hammock on top deck.  Talk abut rude and no awareness of others.  

Some photos of the pool and deck. (Note: the area under the white covering on deck 12 is another hot tub)

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You can see the kids splash area a bit, and the cabanas that are around

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Here's one of the solarium pool

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I don't have any pictures of the hammocks without my kids in them, but they are colorful...some just yellow, some just orange, etc, and there are also some nice rainbow ones (you can see one in one of the water-slide photo I posted above).

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Day 1 - Let's Check out our Staterooms

Our kids swam for a bit and then we noticed the sky up ahead was getting quite black.  So they came out, dried off and we decided to go inside before it started pouring.  It was also nearing 1pm so we headed towards our staterooms.  Funny enough, the higher decks seemed to state that rooms would be available at 1:30pm but ours on deck 7 said 1pm.  (Think they probably just didn't update the sign).

This is the first time that we booked 2 connecting rooms - promenade rooms.  Our kids were looking forward to having their own space, and their own bed.  All four of us stayed in a promenade room before on Allure, and DH and I stayed in the Ben & Jerry Sweet promenade room on Independence and we quite liked them as an interior (i.e. affordable) option.

We got out our rooms to check them out.  Pretty neat.  No luck with our luggage being there, and we didn't see anyone nearby to ask them to open the connecting doors so we left and returned a bit later.  

Our rooms were at the end looking across from Guest Services and I'll say that these rooms were extremely quiet.  On the first night, there was a 70s party, and on the last night there was an 80s party on the promenade and we didn't hear a thing.  I highly recommend these rooms if booking promenade category (7605 & 7607 were our rooms for reference).

DH and my room:

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Our kids room is below on the left (you can see the connecting door and part of our room).  We later caught our room steward and asked to have the kids beds separated.  Also managed to get the connecting door opened just as we found our luggage, which would have been a major pain in the a$#$% otherwise to unpack.

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From the outside standing at guest services looking in (second row, 3rd and 4th in)

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Day 1 - Exploring

Afterwards we explored the promenade (saw the red car - love how each ship has its own trademark car).

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Then explored the decks and found Mario's cabana. I was surprised that it was so out in the open (deck 12, just near the aft elevators and stairs leading up from the main pool).  I will comment that we saw him when coming out of the Windjammer on the second morning breakfast.  I'm very shy so wouldn't have gone up to him, but DH isn't and he went up and said hello.  You hear various comments about Mario, but to us he was really nice and friendly.  Our kids got a kick out of seeing him "in person".  As we were walking out, he said hello to the washy washy singers and said how they all know him.  We'd often see him thereafter in his cabana working on his laptop, and often someone else was with him.  We left him alone but neat to see him.

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After a bit we returned to our stateroom where we found our luggage (but way down the hall), unpacked a bit (after finding someone to open our connecting door) and then off to muster.  As mentioned, we just went to our kids assigned muster station and it wasn't a problem.  

Our kids are older now that we let them off on their own with a meeting time.  So after muster, they wanted to go off and we had them meet us back in our stateroom before dinner.  DH and I went to the Solarium and watched sail away.  Unfortunately it was raining (very) lightly but we just stayed under the covered section.  It's always exciting when you first start moving.

 

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9 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

We have run across Mario a few times and he has always been very friendly an approachable. 

Good to hear.  I'm sure the odd negative comment is due to someone having a bad day, like we all have.

He was very kind and happy to talk to us.

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Day 1 - Dinner

We originally had booked BOGO quite awhile ago (i.e. when it existed) and so was torn whether to keep it or not.  We do quite like the MDR, getting to know your waiters, etc, and since this is only a 4 night cruise, that would have been half our dinners.  DS voted for MDR.  DH was more on the fence of keeping BOGO since we will never get it for that price again (Chops + 1 is the same thing but costs $30 CAD more each).  In the end, we decided to cancel BOGO and just enjoy the MDR.

Our dinner was at 6pm and we were assigned a lovely table of four where we could see outside. 

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We brought our own wine (which btw, were never charged a corkage fee) and they first chilled it for us.  

We're been on a few cruises so we know our favorites and were hoping to see some of the items in the 4 nights. From forums, I had heard of savory bites so thought I'd ask about them.  Our server checked with the kitchen.  They didn't have any, but said they would make them for us for the next night, which we really appreciated.  (And of course, we got them every night following...lol).

My DD loves the French Onion Soup and so she ordered that every night (and DS tried it too and realized he loves it too - or loves the gooey cheese on top).

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I didn't see anything I loved so went with the stand by of salmon, which they do pretty well.  DH had the battered fish entree.  DS and DD had meat items.

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The ice show that DD and I wanted to see was early that night at 7:30pm so we mentioned to our waiter when we realized it was starting soon and they were good about bringing dessert.

For dessert, I had the key lime pie which was really good.   DD had the chocolate chip cookies.  Don't remember what DH and DS had.

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Day 1 - Ice Show and Music

DD and I rushed to the ice show but we still managed to get good seats on the side.  As a note, we didn't notice any key or suite seats, but it's possible we missed it, or we arrived too close to the time and they released any reserved seating.  

The ice show called iSkate was really well done.  There's no story or anything like some of the Oasis class, or neat lighting effects like on Symphony's 1977 show, but very talented skaters.  It does however, start out with the drones so that's neat to see.   My daughter loved it so much that she said she may want to see it again later in the week.

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I don't remember what DH and DS did while we were at the show, but we met them back in the room.  One nice thing with our kids getting older is that we are now able to leave them in room later in the evening and then DH and I can go out.  It was even better having two rooms as we didn't have to find our way around in the dark when we returned for worry of waking them.

DH and I walked around for a bit and went to Schooner Bar.  There was an impov musical comedy guy there named David Curtis Mutter that was excellent.  So funny and talented!   I really love the music that is typically played as its songs that I know, and this guy had so much fun talking / making fun of people that walked by (but not in a mean way). 

Afterwards there was a late comedy show in the main theatre. The guy was really funny and I regretted not bringing our son.  Since it wasn't on until 10:15pm, I assumed it was adult comedy, but it ended up being family friendly (and our son loves that kind of thing).  Live and learn....next time, I'll look for the 18+ sign and not just assume.

 

 

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9 minutes ago, WannaCruise said:

One nice thing with our kids getting older is that we are now able to leave them in room later in the evening and then DH and I can go out.

+1 to that!  Cruising with the kids has improved greatly since we hit that milestone!

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Day 2 - Nassau Day (aka Sea Day)

Pool, Slides, Foozball and Trivai

We docked early in Nassau and as we've been here a few times, we decided to stay on the ship to enjoy the facilities with smaller crowds.  We all put on our bathing suits and headed to the Windjammer.  DH and I really like the MDR for breakfast, but our DS really wanted the full buffet experience so we went to Windjammer.  There's nothing better for him than piling up a plate of french toast, various breads and bacon.  (Don't know where he puts it all as he's quite slim...lol)

After breakfast we headed to the pools.  (This was the morning we saw Mario when exiting the Windjammer).  Again, best time to enjoy the pools is first thing in the morning and on a port day.  We weren't the only ones with the same idea, but it wasn't that crowded.  The slides opened at 10:30am and we got there a bit after they opened.  Our kids went on The Blaster and this was the time where people got stuck and they had to wait in the hot staircase for about 15 minutes.  That prevented them from wanting to go on again.  I think they went on The Riptide a few times on the mats and then had enough.

We hadn't eaten for about 3 hours so we headed to the Windjammer for lunch.  The selection was good.  (I remember last year on Mariner, I wasn't thrilled with the options.  Navigator seems to have more options for non-meat eaters like myself at this one).  

My son loves trivia so we went to the "Where in the World I Am?" trivia.  DH was good at this one.  Me, not so much.  

We wandered in the afternoon for a bit and played some foozball and pool at Playmakers.  This was our "Go To" spot when there were no specific activities going on.  A bit later, there was another trivia by the pool so we headed there to join in.  

 

Laser Tag & Jenga

We had a lull in the afternoon, and we knew that Laser Tag was opening up at 4:30pm.  This is my one complaint with Navigator compared to Mariner; the hours of operation for Laser Tag. DS loves Laser Tag, but it was opened during inconvenient hours from 4:30pm - 8:30pm.  The time kind of sucks as our dinner was 6pm and then a show afterwards, so it doesn't leave much time to play.  So in order to maximize our time, we decided to take our "dinner" showers in the mid afternoon so that we could play from 4:30pm to close to 6pm.  

But of course, sometimes there is nothing going on in the cruise compass, and other times there are multiple things at the same time.  At 4pm, there was a Giant Jenga Tournament that our kids wanted to join so we started there.  DS and DD were on a team.  DH and I were on a team.  And there were about 4 other teams.  The tournament went on for a bit and we ended up competing with our kids for the winning spot.  They won (oops...my bad move) but close game....and we all came away with a "fancy" prize.  i.e. we have a few Royal keychains...lol.

Anyways, the game went past 4:30pm but we still had time for 1 Laser Tag game...but there were line ups, and even waits once they took you inside.  The Laser Tag is the same as on Mariner and Symphony with Bladimus Blorf (I forget his name of the dude talking in the video but something like that).  It's tons of fun and I love how Royal is adding it to their ships. It's pretty cheap and easy to add, and it typically runs on days when there are no ice shows, as it's at Studio B on top of the ice rink.

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