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"Live-ish" Thanksgiving Getaway on Navigator & Explorer! 25 Nov-8 Dec


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Good morning everyone!  As the title says, we will be doing a side by side sailing coming up a week from Monday out of Miami.  As long as data/wi-fi/VOOM cooperates I will try to post as live as I can.  I'll put some of the background and details below, and will also be commenting on our before/after plans as well so feel free to skip past all that if it's not your thing.  Forewarning this first post will be a long one.  I was back and forth on doing a blog, but I know I really appreciate reading them to get me by until my next sailing.  As we go throughout the trip, feel free to ask questions and I will do my best to answer as I can.  



Myself (Cody) and my wife (Ainslie).  I'm active duty AF currently stationed in Colorado Springs.  Just got back to the area in April after living 30 minutes south of Port Canaveral for almost five years, so this will be our first cruise in years where we have to fly to the port which was a big driver in the longer trip.  No kids, so aside from getting the vacation time we have the flexibility to cruise any time of the year.  We love this time of year as the weather is perfect, it's typically cheaper, and longer sailings (Explorer) often have a much more laid-back feel to them which we like.  We are Emerald C&A members coming just short of Diamond after these sailings and won't be in suites so I won't be much help in regards to those aspects/questions.

Why these sailings?: 

We did 14 nights b2b on Navigator a couple years ago over the exact same timeframe and loved it.  We got off that sailing and immediately knew we had to get back to the ABCs, which this time is on Explorer.  We considered doing the 5 night over Thanksgiving and making it a true b2b again, but this one went to Labadee & Jamaica and we're already doing Labadee the second sailing.  We really enjoyed Navigator and were excited to see the amplified ship so got a great rate a year ago on the 4 night Thanksgiving sailing and we get to go to Coco Cay.  I went in September but my wife has never been as we missed it the previous two attempts before the pier was installed.  We'll get to sail on one new ship to us and one revamped ship coupled with getting back to our favorite ports in the ABCs so it was a no-brainer!  Escaping the Colorado cold doesn't hurt either.


Navigator we'll be in a deck 7 Promenade Room.  Originally had the exact same room # on Explorer, but after final payment date the rates on Oceanview Balconies dropped to the point where we upgraded for less than $100, so we'll have a deck 7 Oceanview Balcony on the Starboard side which we prefer.

Onboard Extras:

We purchased the Deluxe beverage package + VOOM for myself and the Refreshment for my wife on both sailings.  I waffled a bit on this but in the end got a rate we were happy with and I love not having to worry about a bill at the end for drinks.  Coupled with the fact that due to work we may not get to cruise next year and it was a fairly easy decision.  On Navigator I booked the UDP for us as there are some new venues I wanted to try and the price was $99pp so not bad.  VOOM came with my DX package but we would've purchased anyways.  No specialty dining on Explorer as we have some longish port days so a couple nights MDR but a lot of casual WJ meals for us.


More in the itinerary to come but we're flying on the red-eye from Denver next Saturday morning at 12:45!  Flying into Orlando to spend time with friends.  We're flying Frontier (I know), but the ticket price was a few hundred cheaper than other airlines which allowed us to spend some time both before and after the cruise in Florida.  After disembarking on the 8th we'll head back up to Orlando to get a couple days at WDW before flying out late on the 9th back to Denver.  Got some great pricing on one way rentals both Orlando to Miami and in reverse with Avis.  Dropping of the rental the night before the cruise so will use Uber/Lyft to get to the ship.


23 Nov- Fly to Orlando, spend day/night in Melbourne with friends

24 Nov- Drive to Miami, one night at the Gabriel downtown

25 Nov- Board Navigator

26 Nov- Nassau (8:00am-6:00pm)

27 Nov- Coco Cay (7:00am-5:00pm)

28 Nov- Sea Day (Thanksgiving)

29 Nov- Turnaround day, board Explorer

30 Nov- Sea Day

1 Dec- Labadee (8:00am-5:00pm)

2 Dec- Sea Day

3 Dec- Willemstad, Curacao (9:00am-8:00pm)

4 Dec- Kralendijk, Bonaire (8:00am-8:00pm)

5 Dec- Oranjestad, Aruba (8:00am-7:00pm)

6-7 Dec- Sea Days

8 Dec- Disembark, head to Orlando/Disney

9 Dec- Fly home late


Nassau- My wife is doing some sort of dolphin thing (I believe) and I'm going to just walk around, get a bite to eat, and spend some time at Pirate Republic Brewing (I'm a big beer guy)

Coco Cay- I've got the all-day waterpark pass, but aside from that a leisurely day

Labadee- Nothing planned, just relax

Curacao- Rented a car through Advance and plan to drive up to some of the more remote beaches.  Afternoon/evening will be spent walking downtown and getting a bite to eat at our favorite place

Bonaire- Snorkeling again with Woodwind and then relaxing in town

Aruba- Local bus to our favorite dutch pancake restaurant, then plan to spend the rest of the day at Reflexions Beach Bar while my wife shops in town


Again, apologies for the long post and congrats to those who stuck with it!  I will start with the live portion next Saturday once we start traveling.  I will not be uploading the compasses daily but if you have specific questions on those I will try to answer.  Have a great weekend and thanks for following along!

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Hi Cody,

Sounds like an amazing trip! We are doing the identical trip about a week later.  We are on Navigator on Dec 9 and then Explorer Dec 13.

I am wondering about the timing of transfers on the turn around day. Off Navigator by 9 am' ish? And can't board Explorer until 11'ish?  Have you looked into the timing? I asked Royal and they weren't too helpful.  

Have a great day,


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10 hours ago, WWKayaker said:

I am wondering about the timing of transfers on the turn around day. Off Navigator by 9 am' ish? And can't board Explorer until 11'ish?  Have you looked into the timing? I asked Royal and they weren't too helpful.  

Unless we get onboard and they have some sort of transport option we're just going to wing it.  If not, plan is to stay on as late as we can and just grab the first taxi we see once leaving the terminal.  They should open up Explorer's terminal shortly after we arrive so not too worried if I have to wait around a few minutes.  I'll make sure and report back.

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9 hours ago, codyh21 said:

Unless we get onboard and they have some sort of transport option we're just going to wing it.  If not, plan is to stay on as late as we can and just grab the first taxi we see once leaving the terminal.  They should open up Explorer's terminal shortly after we arrive so not too worried if I have to wait around a few minutes.  I'll make sure and report back.

  Thanks for reporting back.  I appreciate it.

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The last couple days have been a whirlwind but we’re firmly ensconced in our Miami hotel waiting to board Navigator in the morning.  Red-eye to Orlando Saturday morning was uneventful and we easily picked up our rental from Avis.  Dropped my wife at Disney and drove to Oviedo to have lunch with my friend Brandon and his wife.  Picked my wife up around 2pm and headed to our hotel in Melbourne.  Dinner and drinks were with a bunch of old friends at Intracoastal Brewing were I use to hang out regularly and a great time.  Lunch today was at our favorite Longdoggers with our friend and fellow cruiser Paul Crow.  Drove to Miami, dropped the car off at the airport and took a Lyft to our hotel at the Gabriel downtown.  Lyft was $11 with a discount code I had and short drive.  Dinner was a Publix subs and a key lime pie.  The hotel is amazing and photos are below.  More to come tomorrow after we board.















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Day one was everything we had hoped and been waiting for!  Lyft XL from our hotel to the port was $9.  Picked up at 1020, dropped off at 1032, stepped off gangway onboard at 1040!  Royal really has the boarding process down at terminal A.  Line at Hooked so went straight up to deck 11 to make UDP reservations, which were done in maybe a couple minutes.  My wife doesn’t do sushi or seafood and has no interest in hot rocks, so two nights at Jamie’s and two at Chops.  I’ll probably hit hooked on the sea day for lunch and can pop into Izumi anytime if I want.  

Met someone from our cruise critic roll call who is doing the side by side with us at Playmakers.  Initially told no to UDP but I politely mentioned the terms they put out he checked and came back saying we were good.  Burger, chicken sandwich, wings, and potato skins and we definitely left fries there was so much food.  Everything was good but the potato skins which were a definite miss for us.  Rooms ready right at one.  We’re staying in a deck 7 promenade room right above the stairs down to the casino and across from the pub.  Took a short nap then up to the top deck above Lime & Coconut to watch sail away, amazing weather too.  Enjoyed a few drinks both before and after sailaway.

Dinner was at Jamie’s and the food was excellent.  My lamb was slightly overdone but the flavor was very good.  Afterwards sat on the Promenade and watched MNF game.  Plan was to watch late comedian at 1030 but I completely crashed around 1015 and was out until 5.  Slept right through the 70s party outside our window and heard nothing.  All in all a very enjoyable first day.  WiFi still spotty so I will try and upload photos but mileage may vary.  Approaching Nassau now so I’m going to go catch the sunrise but will check back later today.

Random note- the “specialty” drinks in Bamboo Room are now $14 so they wanted $1 upcharge on drink package.  Didn’t ruin my night but just odd as on Mariner in September they were $13.  All other venues onboard are $13 or under for their menus.  Oh well, small problems!

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Day 2 Recap

Good morning everyone from our approach to Coco Cay.  We’re currently crawling along up to the pier so thought nows the perfect time to recap.  Had a great day in Nassau yesterday.  We docked around 8 and ship clearance was at 830.  All aboard wasn’t until 830pm so we had a very long day there.  I went to the gym around 645 and watched our approach from there.  Mariner joined us along with a Disney and Carnival ships but didn’t feel anymore crowded.  My wife did a blue lagoon excursion through Royal so she left around 930.  I laid around in one of the pool deck cabanas until about 10 then got off and walked over to the Tiki Bikini Hut on Junkanoo beach.  My plan was to have one drink and head out but we all know how that goes.  The bartenders there were a joy to talk to and I ended up staying for a couple hours.  Weather was mid 70s with a nice breeze so that helped.

After leaving there I walked back to town and had lunch at the Bearded Clam.  Cracked Conch w/2 sides was $20 but very good.  After lunch I stopped by Pirate Republic Brewery for a beer, it really is a neat place and right across from the ship.  Made it back onboard at 2 and attempted to ride the water slides but the line was too long for my liking so I’ll try tomorrow.  Took a nap for a couple hours then got dressed for formal night or “dress your best”.  Pre-dinner drinks at the R Bar with my favorite bartenders on the ship.  Dinner at Chops was very good and we enjoyed it.  After dinner we hung out on the pool deck as we sailed away then down to the Promenade.  Was going to enjoy pub music but the singer had lost her voice so just guitar music.  Back to the R Bar and listened to the music from Boleros downstairs for awhile before calling it a night.  All in all a wonderful day and we’re ready for Coco Cay!  I’ll be doing the water park and my wife will just be relaxing on the beach.







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Day 3:

Yesterday brought us to Coco Cay.  I was just here in September but my wife has never been as we’ve always missed it when trying to tender.  It really is a wonderful place and they did an excellent job with the redesign.  We were cleared just after 8am and I headed straight to the Thrill Waterpark.  Entry was simply scanning your seapass to enter and exit.  They do a queue system for Daredevils Peak and I was thankfully in the very first group.  By about 930-945 they had given out all the slots for the entire day so if you want to ride it I would get there early.  I was probably 20th in line and waited about 15 minutes.  A ton of stairs but a real rush and good fun.

I hit the two drop slides next and managed to hit every slide in the park and some twice in just over 90 minutes.  Only one I missed was the group raft one as the line was way too long and I was solo anyways.  I enjoyed the park and managed to get entry for $32 awhile back.  Was selling for $65 a week or so ago which imo is more than its worth.  Afterwards I lounged in a chair on the beach until I met my wife for lunch at the snack shack around noon.  Spent and hour or two at the Oasis pool and bar then headed back to the ship around 130.

Walked onto both slides onboard multiple times then took a long nap.  Pre-dinner drinks again at the R Bar then dinner again was at Chops.  Food was cooked perfectly and we had the same waiter which was nice.  After dinner I spent a couple hours between the piano player in the Schooner Bar and on the promenade.  Watched the beginning of the Quest then headed to bed.  Today is a sea day for Thanksgiving and we have very little planned.  I was busy enough yesterday that I forgot to take many photos, sorry!  For anyone wanting the compasses I plan on scanning these and our Explorer ones to the website on return.  Have a great and happy Thanksgiving all!







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Day 4 / Day 5 (turnaround day)

Our last sea day on Navigator and there wasn’t much to report on.  Aside from watching some football I spent much of the day napping.  6am workout followed by MDR breakfast which was actually very enjoyable.  Found a solarium bed and crashed for almost 90 minutes.  Attempted to use the UDP for lunch In Hooked but was told they were fully booked despite only 4 people in the restaurant.  Ended up at Izumi which was very good.  I had the Crispy Philly roll, firecracker shrimp, and wonton soup.  More football, another nap brought us to dinner time.  First had pre-dinner drinks at the R Bar which was easily my favorite for the week.  One last dinner at Jamie’s (delicious) followed by music in the pub with a very good singer.  Called it a night around 11.


Took our time the next morning as we were headed to Explorer and had no desire to get off early.  Left the ship around 9 and after a lot of confusion and wandering around we were eventually put on a shuttle from Terminal A to Terminal G to board.  Took about an hour but we made it.  Checkin was very quick for Explorer but then the waiting began.  A combination of debarkation starting late, too few customs agents and several stragglers and we didn’t manage to board until almost 1245.  Crowds in the WJ were way too much so Cafe Promenade was in order and was actually quite good.  Rooms were ready at 130.

For this sailing were in room 7354 which is a starboard standard balcony near the aft of the ship.  Very comfortable and pleased with the room.  Met up with a friend in the pub and hung out there until muster drill.  Beautiful sunset sail away from our balcony as we were the last of 5 ships to depart.  Dinner was casual in the WJ but good food.  This will likely be our go to most of this sailing as we’re wanting a bit more laid back.  Went to the pub intending to stay an hour but the singer was so talented and a big group walked in I made quick friends with and ended up staying until almost midnight.  Peeked into the comedy show and piano player but neither were as enjoyable.  Pretty sure I’ll be in the Pub most nights listening to a great performer.  

Sea day today, relaxing and watching a lot of college football on my balcony.  Promise I’ll try to take more photos.  Tomorrow brings us Labadee.  Happy Saturday! 






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