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Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Sea Day

In:
31 Dec 2021

The last day of our cruise is another sea day as we travel back to Los Angeles.

The weather today was not nearly as nice as yesterday, with cooler temperatures, clouds, and on and off rain showers.

I woke up and spent some time in the Solarium while catching up on the cruise news from yesterday.

Eventually, I met up with my family for breakfast in the Windjammer.

Mid-morning, there was an event for Top Tier Crown and Anchor members featuring the entertainment staff in the Royal Theater.

This is a Q&A type event, where the Dance and Ice Captains, along with the tech leads explain what it takes to put shows together on a cruise ship.

After I got back to my cabin, I found a casino voucher waiting on my bed, which is the first time I've gotten one of these.

When lunch rolled around, we had hoped to go to Playmakers but it was full with people actually eating there and overflow from Cafe Promenade. Instead, we went to the main dining room.

I enjoy sea day lunches in the dining room, mostly because there is a different menu and I usually find something I like.

I had hoped the weather might improve, but the best we got was a few peeks of the sun before clouds returned.

Frankly, I was content to just relax in the cabin.  We grabbed Starbucks coffee and then chilled out in the room.

I went up to the pool deck in the afternoon just to mix things up, but it was still chilly.

Dinner was back in the main dining room, where we said goodbye to our wait staff and thanked them for a great week.

Overall, I loved this itinerary.  There is so much to see in each of the Mexican Riviera ports, that I think it's worth flying over to see it all.

Certainly the Omicron concerns were an extra layer to this cruise that even a week before I'm not sure we anticipated being an issue. 

As the cruise went on, I adopted a "que sera, sera" mentality. I took all the precautions I could, including wearing my mask many more places than I might have otherwise, such as sometimes outdoors and keeping my mask on in restaurants until I had food.

Ultimately, I wasn't going to let Covid stop me from enjoying my vacation, but I wasn't going to be too cavalier about it either. As I write this on the final morning while waiting to disembark, everyone feels fine and no common signs of Covid.

I have far more concern about going to the airport and on my flight with little to no health protocols than I did at any point in this cruise.

Many thanks to everyone for following along.  I wish everyone a very happy new year and my deepest gratitude for all of your support reading Royal Caribbean Blog.

Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Sea Day

In:
30 Dec 2021

As we head north from Mexico, we had the first of two sea days on the return journey home.

The last three days has had lots of fun on shore, but today we decided to take it easy and relax.

I got up before the family and hung out in the Solarium for a bit.  The sun was shining, but there was a strong breeze that made it feel chillier.

Something nice offered is you can borrow blankets from the towel station.

Eventually the family woke up and got going, so we headed to the Windjammer for breakfast.

Being a sea day, we just took things easy. A lot of the indoor activities were busier than normal because the cooler temperatures outside forced more inside.

I managed to get my first nap of the day in the late morning.

While the wind may have made the pool deck a little chilly, our balcony felt great with the abundant sunshine and protection from the breeze.

For lunch, my kids got El Loco Fresh while my wife and I went back to the Windjammer.

By this point, I needed another caffeine fix, so I grabbed Starbucks.

Something neat about the Starbucks location on Navigator is the not-so-well-known seating area behind the bar. It has large windows that look out to the ocean and promenade deck.

A few readers have wanted to know about the gym situation, so I took a walk up there.

I couldn't find a crew member to ask directly, but it appears as though face masks are required while working out. There was signage indicating it, and every guest I saw in the gym had their mask on.

When I got back to the room, my kids reminded me I had promised them milk shakes at some point in the cruise, and like any dad, I told them I don't recall promising anything fun like that. They didn't buy it.

Johnny Rockets on Navigator of the Seas is a counter-service location, where you order and go.  Most other ships have Johnny Rockets as a sit down restaurant.

I got the kids milk shakes and onion rings for my wife and I to share.

Back to the room, I started watching a documentary and ran right into the second nap of the day!

I woke up to a lovely sunset right off our balcony.

Dinner tonight was the last of our 3-night specialty dining package, and we went to Jamie's Italian.

The kids love the pasta here, and I decided to try the Jamie's Burger just to mix things up.

We were unable to get the kids into Adventure Ocean, so we left them in the cabin for a little bit to play on their devices.

We rounded out our evening with guitar music in the pub.

Tomorrow is one more sea day.

Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - Puerto Vallarta

In:
29 Dec 2021

Our last port of call on this cruise brings us to Puerto Vallarta.

Interestingly, we changed time zones again and are essentially on Central Time, even though we are still on the west coast of Mexico.

Navigator docked right on time at 8am. Our tour didn't begin until 11, so we let the kids sleep in a bit before getting everyone ready to go.

I had arranged a tour through Royal Caribbean's Private Journeys program for today, which means we have a private shore excursion booked through the cruise line. The plan was to visit Sabal Playa, a beach resort on the north side of Puerto Vallarta.

I went through Private Journeys because at the time, I wasn't sure if my kids would be vaccinated or not. Royal Caribbean doesn't allow unvaccinated people to go on their own tours, so by booking an excursion through Royal Caribbean, I was able to get around the problem.

We walked down to the Royal Theater, just like any shore excursion, and they took us right off the ship to meet our guide in the port area.

The tour included a driver for the day that spoke fluent English, an air conditioned van, and admission into Sabal Playa. The tour did not include food or drinks.

Sabal Playa didn't open until 11:30, so our guide took us on a tour by car of Puerto Vallarta to burn up time.

Along the way, we stopped at a Mexican shopping mall and treated the kids to gelato while I got a coffee.

Back on the road, we headed to Sabal Playa.

Sabal is a combination pool and beach resort, similar in setup to Paradise Beach in Cozumel: pay an admission fee, and get access to the facilities. Food and drink are a la carte.

The grounds were lovely, and their infinity pool was plenty large and heated.

The staff set us up on the beach, which is a short walk beyond the pool on the "lower" level. They gave us chairs and umbrellas to use.

This was our opportunity to go for a swim in the Pacific Ocean, and the sea water was a little chilly, but you got used to it quite quickly.

The views around were stunning with mountains surrounding much of the area. 

There is a good assortment of food and drinks, with mostly Mexican food to choose from. During our stay, we had a couple beers, some drinks for the kids, guacamole, two orders of tacos, and quesadillas and spent $50 for it all.

The food was pretty good as well and freshly prepared. 

Overall, I really liked our visit, and the kids wanted to stay longer when we told them it was time to go.

At the pre-arranged time, our driver took us back to the ship.

The port area in Puerto Vallarta is close to Costa Maya as being the most annoyingly long path to get you through as many shops as possible.

Back on Navigator of the Seas, we showered and got changed for dinner.

For dinner, we went back to the main dining room. They had my favorite variety of Indian curry this evening, aloo gobi.

We dropped the kids off at Adventure Ocean, and then discovered that while the ship departed Puerto Vallarta around 6, the casino did not re-open until 8:15. 

We spent some time in the Schooner Bar to wait the casino out. Eventually it re-opened, and me and my money were quickly separated.

We finished out our evening in the pub.

Tomorrow is a sea day.

Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Mazatlan

In:
28 Dec 2021

Next up in our Mexican Riviera cruise is a visit to Mazatlan. Unlike Cabo San Lucas yesterday, we have a full day here.

We woke up to the ship already docked and cleared for passengers to disembark. Our tour didn't begin until a little later in the morning, so we got everyone up and ready for breakfast.

After the usual family morning routine of wake up, get dressed, wake up again, wait, wake up one more time, and then up to the Windjammer for breakfast, we disembarked the ship.

The ship docks in a shipping port, so there's nothing but shipping containers to see.  Passengers take a very short tram ride to the other side of the port facility, where there is a typical shopping area to walk through before being able to exit the port.

We did a little bit of window shopping before it was time to meet our tour.

We booked an ATV tour through MazatlanTours.org. Royal Caribbean had very few tours here, so we booked on our own.

The tour guide met us in the port area parking lot and after waiting for one other group, took us on an open air truck ride to the ATV spot.

Navigator docks in "old Mazatlan", and the ride to "new Mazatlan" is about 15-20 minutes.  There is a stark contrast between the two areas, with the ATV location right in the heart of shopping, dining, and things to do. 

We had booked a private ATV tour for the four of us in a 4-seater ATV. Things did not get off to a great start, as the guy working there had to check in everyone that was arriving, as well as set everyone up in their vehicle. Eventually other help arrived, but it was slow going.

Compounding the problem was they didn't know we had a private tour. After realizing the issue, they quickly took one of the guide's out (I think he was going to stay at the shop) and he was our guide.

We got going at this point, and took a ride through Mazatlan to the countryside, where we found off-road trails.

The trails took us through cactus fields, up and down steep "jungle" hills, and eventually to the ocean.

Unfortunately halfway through, our vehicle stopped working.  The guide looked it over, tried a few things, but it would not start back up.  He called in the problem, and we switched to his vehicle while he took a scooter to finish the tour.

We made three (scheduled) stops: at the top of a mountain overlook, at a horse farm for the kids to ride a horse, and at a scenic beach stop.

Overall, I enjoyed the tour, and the kids liked our pit stops more than the ride itself. There wasn't any narration or anything, just an opportunity to drive ATVs and see some of Mazatlan.

After the tour was over, we were ready to eat lunch and I wanted something more authentic than El Loco Fresh. We walked down the main road and found an outdoor restaurant serving tacos, quesadillas, burritos, fish and more.

Everything was prepared on the spot, and it tasted great. Twenty dollars for 5 quesadillas, 3 tacos, a beer, and a few sodas.

We hailed a taxi, which resembles the Hanna-Barbera Speed Buggy animated series vehicle.

On the drive back, our taxi driver pointed out a few sights, including cliff divers.

We got back on Navigator of the Seas and decided to put on bathing suits and take the kids down the water slides.

Navigator of the Seas has two water slides you wont find on any other Royal Caribbean ship: a mat racer slide and a water coaster slide.

My kids liked both slides, but preferred the water coaster.

Back in the room, we took showers and got ready for dinner.

Dinner brought us back to the main dining room.

After dinner, we dropped the kids off at Adventure Ocean and then went to the casino where once again, the Blackjack gods did not smile upon me. I've never seen so many hands where I have 12 and the dealer has a face card showing.

I stopped by the Bamboo Room for a drink before taking a walk outside. The evening weather is so comfortable out, with low humidity and a warm breeze.

We weren't sure what to do next, so we went back to the cabin to do something different: binge a few episodes of Hawkeye. To my surprise, the ship's internet was able to handle the stream without an issue.

To round out our evening, we headed back to the pub for a few drinks and music.

Tomorrow we will be in Puerto Vallarta.

Stray Observations

I'm not the bah humbug type, but the non-stop Christmas music everywhere on the ship is starting to reach a point where I'm getting sick of it. 

I did a speed test of the ship's wifi and as I said earlier, it performs quite well.

Our dining room waiters gave us a belated Christmas card they make every year for the people at their table. It's incredible!

NextCruise has not been staffed/open at all this cruise (or at least, never staffed/open when I've been near).

In the Captain's daily announcement, he commended guests for the very good adherence to the mask protocol onboard. Halfway through the cruise, I have seen nearly every guest following the rules about mask wearing, even wearing masks outdoors in large quantities. It's good to see passengers who understand not only is it the cruise line rules, but the importance for everyone's health.

Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Cabo San Lucas

In:
27 Dec 2021

Our first port of call is Cabo San Lucas, although we don't get there until noon.

My morning routine was the same as yesterday. Wake up before the kids, head up to the pool deck and enjoy some fresh air while I catch up on blog posts.

I noticed immediately the temperature had warmed up significantly from the last two days, and it was comfortable to be outdoors wearing shorts.

Once the kids did get up, we had breakfast in the Windjammer. We decided to go to brainbuster trivia after. Here's one question: What starts with "e", ends with "e", and has one letter?

The answer is envelope.

Navigator of the Seas made her way along the coast of Mexico as we drew closer to Cabo.

Cabo San Lucas is not a port you dock at. Instead, guests take tender boats to shore.

We booked the Deluxe Coastal Cruise for today, which is a 2-hour tour by water of the surrounding area.

We met in the Royal Theater and took a tender to shore before boarding a large boat for our tour. The tour listed it as a catamaran, but it looked like a giant tender boat.

There were 3 stops: Land's End cliff-side beaches, Lovers Beach, and then wildlife viewing.

We started off heading out of the harbor and made our way right to Land's End.

The rock formation is beautiful, although we basically saw it from our ship on the voyage in.  Still, this was a closer look and included a view of sea lions barking up a storm.

Around the rocks are beaches, including Lover's Beach. If I were to come back again, I think taking a water taxi here would be fun.

At this point, it was whale watching time. In the winter months, humpback whales migrate to Mexico from Alaska to mate.

The crew passed out complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, including pre-packaged snacks like potato chips.

The drinks included mai tais, tequila sunrises, and even shots. Kids could have sodas, shirley temples and any drink that doesn't need a blender.

I was less than optimistic that we'd see any whales, but after a half hour we spotted our first pod.

It was pretty far, but I saw two whales come up a few times.  By the time our boat got there, they had gone away.

I would have been pretty content with just that, but then we found the pod two more times, including one time where they came up directly in front of us.

It was amazing to see these whales up-close, and my kids loved it.

The crew did a great job of keeping drinks and snacks handy, and played fun music along the way.

It was a great tour, and I really liked it.  The fact we saw whales a few times was incredible, and made the tour fantastic.

When the tour was over, we were dropped off at the pier. I took a brief walk around the port, but it looked a lot like Cozumel, so we headed back.

The tender ride back was pretty quick, and no lines to contend with.

Back on the ship, we showered quickly before heading to dinner.

Dinner brought us back to Izumi.  My phone was charging in the room, so no dinner photos, but the poke bowl and sushi chef sampler were great.

Tomorrow we are in Mazatlan.

Stray Observations

I found another weird Royal Caribbean food in the Windjammer today, bangers!

Managed to get the kids into Adventure Ocean today without a reservation.  Got there when they opened, and after a few kids with reservations entered, we were admitted.

Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
26 Dec 2021

Our first full day on Navigator is a sea day as we head south to Mexico.

Of course, it's also Christmas, which means a ship-wide celebration throughout the day. Being on a cruise ship for Christmas doesn't mean you have to put off your family's celebrations. Lots of families do the pajama thing, take photos, and even decorate.

I started off my morning heading up to the Windjammer for breakfast. There was a gingerbread village just as you walk in.

Behind the village is complimentary eggnog and hot chocolate, conveniently located right near the Windjammer bar. A little Kraken rum and eggnog go a long way.

All around the ship, you will find crew members wearing different Christmas hats and clothing to join in the celebrations.

In case you're wondering, Royal Caribbean provides a midnight mass, as well as Christmas day mass.

While the sun was shining today, it was not warm out.  The high temperature was somewhere in the 60s, and with the ocean breeze, it felt brisk.

Of the many Christmas events, there was a "Holiday gift distribution", where Royal Caribbean provided a wrapped gift to all the kids from Adventure Ocean.

The gift was an Adventure Ocean themed pop it, which is a fidget toy consisting of a silicone tray with pokable bubbles. School aged children love these things.

With the weather not warm enough for the usual pool deck activities, we hit up the mini-golf course and then grabbed some towels to sit by the pool. The towels were for a blanket, rather than to soak up water.

We tried to hit up the ice skating, but the line was enormous, so ditched the line. This is one time I wish I had a Royal Genie again.

Royal Caribbean also held a Christmas day brunch from 9:30am to 1pm in the main dining room.

It is quite unusual to have the main dining room open for so long, and it was nice that you could choose between breakfast, lunch, or both.

After lunch, I decided to head back to the room for a nap. Isn't that a Christmas tradition too?

Having been on the ship for 24 hours, I thought it would make sense to talk about the mask rules and how it's working so far.

Many readers have been curious how the stricter mask rules "feel", and what it's like.

In general, the revised mask protocols means the change is wearing your mask in vaccinated-only zones. 

My experience has been if you are seated in a bar, restaurant, or lounge, as long as there was food or drink in front of you, you were fine without masks and not asked to put the mask on between bites or sips.

I've noticed nearly everyone compliant with the mask rules indoors.  I can think of perhaps one person that didn't have the mask on indoors when I saw them. 

There are definitely a few masks worn by guests that I don't think qualify as masks that do anything helpful, such as face shields alone or the one person had what looked like a coffee filter-inspired mask.

But I cannot recall seeing so many masks being worn on a ship since the early days of cruising's return.

There have also been many more people than I can recall seeing wearing masks outdoors as well.

I don't think Royal Caribbean wants to be in a situation where there are crew members every 10 feet looking to correct mask wearing, but I do know they want guests following the rules, and overall it feels like they've done a good job of focusing on the guest experience, while balancing mask enforcement.

The one rule no one seems to follow or enforce is the elevator rule. Elevators are supposed to be up to 5 people or your travel party, but those things get jam packed repeatedly. 

I'll keep an eye on the mask situation onboard, but so far, I'm very pleased with how the rule has been implemented and how well-received it has been from guests.

Back to the cruise day fun!

Dinner tonight took us to Izumi. We bought the 3-night dining package, and since Chops and Jamie's were blacked out due to the holiday, Izumi made sense. Plus, we'd probably be eating Asian cuisine on Christmas if we were at home!

The one change I noticed is the absence of the hot rock option from the menu.  During the shutdown, Royal Caribbean standardized Izumi's menu across the fleet, and the hot rocks are gone from Navigator, at the very least.

Nonetheless, we found great options and I enjoyed the various sushi options we had.

After dinner, we took the kids to Adventure Ocean. We had a reservation for this evening.  One tip is to ask daily if there's any reservations you can make. The staff member said tomorrow was pretty open, but there were a few spots for the next day.  So we booked that day, and will roll the dice on space for tomorrow.

With the kids gone, my wife and I headed down to the casino to try our luck. The Blackjack gods did not smile upon me, but at least they let me play for a while.

Following our "contribution" to the Royal Caribbean bottom line, we enjoyed drinks and music at the Schooner Bar and Pub.

Tomorrow is our first port stop in Cabo San Lucas.

Stray Observations

One of the weird foods you can eat on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship: three different varieties of gravlax.

I did an internet test today and the speeds were nothing special, but for email, social media, and text messaging, it's more than sufficient. My attempts to watch TNT live so I could catch the Christmas Story marathon failed every single time because of the low speeds and high lag.

I think the casitas on Navigator are complimentary, and do not cost extra. 

In his daily update, the Captain said on Navigator's last 7-night run, they saw a pod of humpback whales, so everyone should look for them as we arrive in Mexico tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I slept on my right shoulder last night and woke up with a strained muscle. Ibuprofen and laying down helps a lot. I'm hoping it gets better quickly.

I ran across the Diamond Lounge set up in the Cosmopolitan Club for their evening happy hour.

Printed Cruise Compasses are a rare breed on this cruise.

Here's a look at the main dining room Christmas menu

Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day

In:
25 Dec 2021

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.

Stray Observations

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.

Live Blog Index

Live Blogging from Navigator of the Seas - Preamble

In:
20 Dec 2021

Hi everyone, I'm really excited to announce our next live-blog experience as we get ready for a cruise aboard Navigator of the Seas for a 7-night Mexican Riviera adventure.

This is my first time trying this itinerary, and I hope it offers all of you a chance to preview what to expect if you ever wanted to give it a try.

Royal Caribbean had been absent from the West Coast of the United States for over a decade, so when Royal Caribbean announced a return, I had to give a try.

Most of the Navigator of the Seas cruises are just 3- and 4-night sailings, but if I was going to fly across the country for a cruise, it had to be for something longer.  Luckily, there are longer sailings on holidays, and it seemed like a good opportunity to spend our winter break on a cruise.

Why we chose this cruise

It's not often there is a brand new itinerary to try from the United States, so when Royal Caribbean started selling cruises from Los Angeles, I had to give it a try.

Finding an itinerary that worked with the kids' school schedule was not easy, but the price was right, especially for a holiday sailing and it allows the kids a bit of a break before and after the cruise before school resumes.

The prices for Navigator of the Seas' sailings from Los Angeles have been on the inexpensive side, which represents a great value for anyone that can get out there. 

On top of the fun itinerary, I love Navigator of the Seas and the upgrades she received has part of her amplification in 2019. Combine a great ship with a new itinerary, and you have an exciting plan.

My plans onboard

New Navigator of the Seas west coast cruises now available to book | Royal Caribbean Blog

I'll be traveling with my wife and kids, and we have two connecting balcony rooms for this cruise.

Getting two connecting rooms instead of putting everyone in one cabin is one of my favorite family cruise tips because of how it doesn't break the bank and gives my wife and I some separation from the kids. Plus, an extra bathroom!

Since this is a holiday cruise that goes over Christmas, we decided to just do a 3-night dining plan so that I can do a few specialty restaurants, but enjoy the best the main dining room has to offer.

Navigator of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

I'm also not sure what to expect in terms of how full the ship will be. Navigator did not restart cruises until November, but Royal Caribbean has been steadily increasing ship capacity across the fleet over the last six weeks, especially on holidays.

I'm hoping the weather will be warm enough to try out the waterslides onboard.  I've done both slides, but my kids have not. I think once we get down to Mexico, the temperatures should warm up considerably.

Something else that will be different for us will be the tightened mask rules that Royal Caribbean just announced. I've never stopped wearing my mask at home while indoors, so I'm not certain how much of a difference it will be, although I had gotten used to being in vaccinated-only areas and enjoying entertainment without a mask.  

My plans on shore

We will be visiting three ports of call on this cruise, and each is brand new to me: Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.

Given that I've never been to any of these ports, I spent more time than usual to plan excursions because I not only want to see what each offers, but it may be a while before I return, so I want to maximize my time seeing the best each port has to offer.

In Cabo San Lucas, we booked the Deluxe Coastal Cruise through Royal Caribbean, which is described as a 2-hour catamaran where we will visit the rock formations of Land's End, check out a barking colony of sea lions, and then sail past a rare stretch of sand shared by both the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. It's also whale season, so we may see migratory whales.

In Puerto Vallarta, I booked a private shore excursion through Royal Caribbean's Private Journeys program.

Royal Caribbean arranged a private vehicle with driver/guide to take us to a 4 star beach club with beachfront, pool, restaurant, full bar service, lounges, umbrellas, restrooms, showers and poolside service.

Finally, in Mazatlan, I booked an ATV tour on our own. We have a private 4x4 Rhino Safari ATV tour where the four of us will ride in a 700cc fully automatic Honda Big Red 4x4 Rhino on an ecological adventure through Mazatlan's backcountry.

What's next

Our trip begins tomorrow when we fly out to California for a few days pre-cruise touring. We'll spend a few days at Disneyland before boarding our cruise ship on Friday, December 24.

If you want a head start on this live blog, check out Jenna's quick two-night cruise on Navigator last month.

I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels.  Be sure to follow me on FacebookYouTube, and Twitter for live updates throughout the day.

I invite you to share in this experience with me, by posting in the comments for any blog post questions and comments you may have.  I try to make these live blogs as interactive as I can, so I want everyone to feel welcome to share their thoughts.

Thanks for reading all of this and welcome aboard our next fun live blog experience!

Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Ensenada

In:
19 Nov 2021

The second and final day of our Navigator of the Seas media cruise brings us to Ensenada, Mexico.

This morning, I woke up early to walk around the running track on Deck 12 and catch some great views of the ship on its way to Ensenada. I ended up walking around the pool deck and promenade deck for around an hour, and I enjoyed the calm seas and slightly chilly weather.

I also ventured to the Helicopter Pad down below. The Helipad is only available to guests on Radiance, Freedom and Voyager class ships, and is one of my favorite places to go to have some peace and quiet while watching the ocean.

We ordered room service for breakfast this morning. One of my favorite things to do when I have a balcony room is to enjoy a nice, private breakfast on the balcony. Our room service arrived right as the ship docked in Ensenada.

Ensenada is south of Tijuana and Rosarito in Baja California and it definitely has a different feel compared to Royal Caribbean’s stops in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Whereas Cozumel is very green, humid, and flat, Ensenada is dry and mountainous. And while the Caribbean side of Mexico is known for its beaches and Mayan ruins, Ensenada offers different activities such as winery tours, horseback riding, and whale watching excursions.

Navigator of the Seas docks near downtown Ensenada. You can get to the main part of town via a short shuttle bus or by taking a stroll along the boardwalk in the harbor. We opted to go on foot, and it was an easy five minute walk to town.

We had nothing planned for our day in Ensenada, but we knew we wanted to experience a more local side to the city. Uber conveniently works in Ensenada, so we grabbed a ride to Mercado Los Globos, a large local market about ten minutes away. I love exploring markets in whatever country I visit, as it gives a great perspective into the local culture, cuisine, and traditions.

When we arrived at the mercado, our time in Ensenada quickly turned into a food tour. The market was packed with fresh produce, restaurants, and juice stands. We started off our food tour by tasting fresh fruit and snacks.

For lunch, I grabbed a Jamaica juice from one stand in the market and chilaquiles from another. It’s hard to go wrong with Mexican food, and the offerings at Mercado Los Globos are varied and authentic.

Following lunch, we continued exploring the market before taking an Uber back to the main tourist strip in Ensenada near the port.  There, we walked around the shops to pick up a few small souvenirs to bring home.

Ensenada is filled with street food vendors, though, so our food tour continued! First up was ceviche at La Guerrerense, a famous spot for locals and tourists alike. In fact, Anthony Bourdain named La Guerrerense one of the best street food carts in the world! If you like fresh seafood, this is a great place to try in Ensenada.

We ended our food tour with my personal favorite, churros filled with chocolate and dulce de leche, before heading back onboard Navigator of the Seas.

After a short walk around the promenade deck, I headed to the pool deck to watch the ship sail away from Mexico.

Sailaway happened right at sunset, and tonight’s sunset was magical. With vibrant colors and smooth seas, it may have been the best sunset I’ve ever seen while at sea.

I originally planned to attend tonight’s ice skating show, but the sunset was so beautiful that I couldn’t make myself leave the pool deck! I did, however, run down to Studio B to check it out for a few minutes and the show was quite impressive.

I especially enjoyed the synchronized drones that lit up at the start of the show. 

After watching the sunset, we went to Playmakers to play pool, shuffleboard, and Mrs. Pac-Man while enjoying a sampler of wings and truffle french fries.

Playmakers is one of my favorites venues on Royal Caribbean, and tonight the space was packed with guests, creating the energized ambiance that every sports bar should have.

After a brief rest in my stateroom, I spent some time listening to the pub singer at the Copper & Clover, which is always a relaxing way to end a busy day on a cruise.

Due to the extensive food tasting in Ensenada, I wasn’t very hungry for a big dinner, so I grabbed some pizza from Cafe Promenade. While not as fancy as last night’s dinner at Chops Grille, it definitely hit the spot.

Lastly, I headed to the theater to watch Showgirls before going to bed.

This two night cruise went by quickly and I’m sad to say goodbye to Navigator of the Seas tomorrow. At the same time, I’m excited that the ship will continue to sail out of Los Angeles and add more Royal Caribbean presence on the west coast.

Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation

In:
18 Nov 2021

Today is the first day of a two night cruise from Los Angeles on Navigator of the Seas.

Navigator of the Seas is a Voyager Class ship and is the first Royal Caribbean ship to sail from Los Angeles in ten years. This two night sailing is a media sailing, and Royal Caribbean invited me onboard to check out all that the new west coast sailings have to offer.

I was especially excited for this cruise because I really enjoyed my cruise on Mariner of the Seas, which is also a Voyager Class ship. I love the size, decor, and layout of the Voyager Class. Plus, Navigator of the Seas was amplified in 2019, so it has many of the same features and venues as newer Royal Caribbean ships.

I arrived at the port around 11:30AM to board Navigator of the Seas. Our room was changed at the last minute and we were given an accessible ocean view balcony. The room is very spacious, and after two cruises in an inside cabin, I was really excited about the extra large balcony!

The first stop once I got onboard was The Bamboo Room in the Royal Promenade. I think this might be my favorite indoor bar on any Royal Caribbean ship. I love the Polynesian and tiki style decor and vibe, and the drinks are really great too! I ordered the Banana Colada which never disappoints.

One of the primary tasks for this cruise is to film a full ship tour of Navigator of the Seas for the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel. This will be the fourth full ship tour we have created, following Mariner of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, and Ovation of the Seas. This afternoon was spent exploring the ship with my camera to take video clips of all the exciting places onboard.

Being a media cruise, there were a few special events happening. Many of the specialty restaurants had food and drink samples available for guests to taste, and the Windjammer had an enhanced menu to celebrate the start of cruises in Los Angeles. I celebrated by sampling the red velvet cake from Chops (so good!) and enjoying some Indian food in the Windjammer for lunch.

After lunch, I continued exploring the ship. Navigator of the Seas' amplification included adding Playmakers, The Bamboo Room, waterslides, The Lime & Coconut, and more. The waterslides look extremely fun and even jet over the side of the ship! I thought the layout of the pool deck was great, too, with casitas, comfy seating, and a tropical vibe. 

Sailaway was at 5PM, right as the sun began to set in Los Angeles. For sailaway, I headed to the top deck of The Lime & Coconut. I love how The Lime & Coconut encompasses three decks, and the top deck in particular has both comfy seating and excellent views.

Soon enough, we were sailing past the Port of Los Angeles and into the open ocean. Since it got dark pretty quickly after sailaway, we headed back to our stateroom to relax before an evening of activities on board.

First, we headed to the Viking Crown Lounge. Whether during the day or night, this space is one of the best places to relax with a view on any Voyager Class ship.

Next up was dinner at Chops Grille. While I usually opt for Italian or Teppanyaki, I decided to switch it up on this cruise. Our table enjoyed the crispy goat cheese salad, black pepper bacon, lobster, salmon, key lime pie, and cheesecake. It was delicious as usual!

Dinner finished quite late and the rest of the evening was spent walking around the ship, listening to Latin music at Boleros, and relaxing on the balcony.

Overall, it was a great first day onboard and I am excited to keep exploring Navigator of the Seas. Tomorrow we dock in Ensenada, Mexico.

Stray Observations:

Be sure to go to the right cruise terminal! We originally drove to the wrong area and ended up at the cruise terminal where Carnival and the Queen Mary are docked. Luckily, it was only a ten minute drive away, and seeing the Queen Mary was fascinating. However, definitely type the exact address into Google Maps instead of just typing "Port of Los Angeles." Oops!

The DJ had some pretty awesome music playing during sailaway.

I wish Navigator of the Seas had Teppanyaki!

The gym area on Navigator is much bigger than on Mariner of the Seas. Playmakers also has more seating and space, including an Owner’s Box.

Right next to Navigator of the Seas at the port is the USS Iowa. This is a retired battleship turned museum and looks like an interesting thing to do if you have extra time before or after the cruise.

 

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