2nd January 2018: If you're looking for an all-round great family cruise ship, look no further than Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas. Before you even get close to the ship, you can see this floating wonder. Having been on many ocean and river cruise ships, I can tell you the Navigator of the Seas is one of my personal favourites. Having travelled on board the vessel a decade ago around the Baltics, I was interested to see what had changed since its recent refurbishment.
What’s on Board?
My visit began with a trip to the ship’s indoor ice rink, yes ice rink, where I was treated to a glass of bubbly before being offered a seat. Then, the lights went down and the show had begun! The rink was awash with vibrant costumes and ice skaters pulling off daring moves and it was hard to believe that I was watching this on board a cruise ship. Royal Caribbean are the only cruise line to offer an ice rink at sea so if you’re feeling brave, I’d highly recommend an ice skating session, best of all, it won’t cost you a penny. Royal Caribbean are currently the only cruise line to offer its guests an ice rink at sea.
Following the ice show, we took a leisurely stroll around the ship and headed towards the centre of the ship. The atrium on board acts as the main activity hub for the ship where you not only have the opportunity to see all the decks at once, its lighting and vast amounts of open space give the feeling of being in a grand hotel, not a cruise ship. The glass elevators here are a personal highlight, gliding seamlessly up and down the 13 passenger decks, you really do get a feel for the size of the ship and the love and care that has gone into making it and, there are always friendly staff members and interactive electronic maps to help guide you should you need help navigating around this magnificent vessel.
The Royal Promenade
One of my favourite spaces on board, The Royal Promenade is a vast space with a cafe, pub, general store, jewellery shop and a wine bar just to name a few. You can often find vendors here selling all sorts of fantastic souvenirs and keepsakes, maybe even designer watches or handbags. This area makes for a great place to pick up something special to take home as a memento of your trip.
People often say to me “…the casino must be tiny on a cruise ship,” well, think again! The casino on board Navigator of the Seas has numerous black jack tables, roulette tables and of course traditional Vegas style slot machines. Having been to some of the best hotels in Las Vegas, this casino really does stand up for itself and to top it off, it’s at sea! The casino really comes to life at night where you’ll be in awe of its spectacular buzzing and flashing of lights while everyone places their bets. I love the atmosphere here. It is a very social way to spend some money and have lots of fun.
Deck 14 - Viking Lounge
No blog would be complete without giving an overview of the restaurants and the standard of food you can expect on your cruise. With several restaurants to choose from there is a dining style to suite every taste. The Viking Lounge is a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by with fabulous panoramic views of the pool deck, you’re welcomed with an extensive drinks menu. Deck 14 is home to just four public spaces yet each are individually beautiful and cater for a wide range of guests tastes. Within this hideaway, you’ll find the Cosmopolitan Club, Diamond Club and the newest addition, Izumi alongside the Viking Lounge.
Izumi was included as part of Navigator’s refurbishment and provides guests with an excellent sushi restaurant completed by stunning views out to sea. Modern in design, Izumi serves fresh sushi, iski-yaki dishes, chilled sake and much more at this stylish venue. I highly recommend trying this restaurant at some point during your time on board.
This restaurant had also gone under extensive renovation since my last visit and it was definitely worth the wait. Chops Grille is a speciality steakhouse allowing you the typical American diner experience both inside and outside. One of the most popular restaurants on board the ship guests can take their pick of tasty grilled meats, steaks and fish and treat themselves to deserts such as Mississippi mud pie or apple pudding.
Enjoy the delights of authentic Italian cooking at Giovanni’s table. Guests can look forward to a whole host of culinary delights here from cannoli to mascarpone mousse and everything in between. Located on Deck 11, Giovanni’s Table is like every speciality restaurant on board, definitely worth the cover charge for those passionate about food.
If buffet-style and informal dining isn’t your style, you can choose to dine at the exquisite Sapphire Dining Room. Set across a height of three decks, this elegant restaurant provides guests with spacious and beautifully set out dining tables and excellent silver service. The food in this restaurant was just was amazing as I had remembered it to be. I have definitely paid more money in restaurants for lesser quality and to top it off, each course was beautifully presented and cooked to order.
A wonder around the newly refurbished theatre which hosts countless West End & Broadway performers and, in my opinion, rivals most theatres in London, bought back fond memories of having an evening meal then sitting down to watch a fantastic show. Royal Caribbean’s entertainment is really at the heart of all of its ships. The singers, dancers and actors are truly talented and their only job is to put on the best show for you. Couple this with the countless number of sports courts, climbing walls, arcades, theatres and expansive deck space and swimming pools, just to name a few of the amazing features available on board, you’ll never have trouble finding something to keep you busy during your time on ship.
My ultimate refurbishment highlight has to be the ‘Flow Rider.’ Once upon a time this amazing feature used to only be available on bigger Royal Caribbean ships so this was a huge change! The flow rider is an exhilarating surf simulator that pumps gallons of water at super speed to create a surf like environment. This is free to all guests without the need to pre-book and private lessons are available should you prefer. The professionals are very friendly and encouraging, so for those completely new to the concept of surfing you’ll be in great hands and learn lots of new skills.
You have a wide variety of staterooms to choose from, all very comfortable and varying in price. Choose from an inside cabin - a cabin that looks out over the Royal Promenade which are sound proof; great for watching the world go by and of course the on board carnival!
Since its renovation, each inside stateroom also includes a virtual balcony which brings the outside views of the ocean or ports of call into the comfort of your own room. The virtual balcony consists of an LED screen which projects real-time footage of the views on deck. From here, you can upgrade to a balcony stateroom or a suite, each very spacious and is completed by a generous balcony - perfect for relaxing and watching the sun go down.
I knew as soon as I disembarked the ship I didn't have enough time to see everything I wanted to! Even with a week on board the Navigator of the Seas there’s a good chance you won’t get around to seeing every nook-and-cranny on board; especially as you’ll be adding stunning ports of call to visit. If you are looking for a ship or a cruise line with plenty to offer in the way of innovation, for me, Royal Caribbean are 100% ahead of the game when it comes to technology and features. If you’re looking for a cruise holiday with something for all ages I really can’t recommend anything better than Royal Caribbean and, with the launch of Symphony of the Seas in 2018, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future of ocean cruising Royal Caribbean has to offer.