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LMaxwell

Navigator, CocoCay, thoughts on upgrades, etc.

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Was on Navigator a week ago for 4 night cruise to Nassau and CocoCay.  Have been on the ship prior to recent dry dock and also to these stops multiple times (before CocoCay upgrades). 

 

Some thoughts on ship refurbishments:  Had one of the new rooms on Deck 11; great location adjacent to Solarium.  Occupies space where gym used to be.  Had an inside room, not one of the new balcony rooms.  Large wraparound deck and peekaboo bridge lost in the transformation but small wings on either side of solarium still to see outside.  

 

Ship very clean and nicely updated; did not see signs of her age anywhere.  Really top notch RCI presentation. 

 

Fearless prediction:  Blow Dry Bar, Tiki Room, and Johnny Rockets to Go are flops are won't last long.  

 

New waterslides, updated pool area, sports court/flowrides, mini-golf a hit.   All the slides require using a mat or tube to ride and the wait can be pretty long.  Surprised they did not also include a "Regular" type water slide.  One of the two main pools and one of the two water slides closed on our only SeaDay for maintenance.  Poorly planned; would have made more sense to do at CocoCay.  Did not have the trampoline or Sky Pad feature of the Mariner.   Some of the best quiet lounging can be done near the new mini-golf area; top tip.  Plus refreshing fresh water showers up there.  

 

Dinner in MDR 3 nights, WJ one night.  Food was very good, no complaints on quality or presentation.  Asked by waitstaff for 10's on day 2.  They did a waitstaff parade day 3 and day 4.  Note:  This is absolutely excruciating.  They turn the speakers in the dining room up until they are all whizzing and distorting.  It's quite simply headache inducing noise.  These are PA speakers, not meant to blast music at those volumes.  Please RCI; if you insist on these parades turn the volume down a bit so it's not just noise.  Honestly, the food was good, the service was good, the presentation good, but that blaring ear splitting music ruins it. WJ dinner was phenomenal, just as it was the highlight of our last Navigator cruise in 2018.  Quality, variety, and presentation seemed much above our recent Allure cruise.  New handwashing stations A+ addition.  Late night snack offered in one section of WJ with fruit, cookies, some small desserts, burgers, and 4-6 dinner leftovers.  Nice.  Finally Royal.  Seriously.  

 

Dining room breakfast: Good variety on a serve yourself buffet with some items done a la minute.  A la carte menu very skimpy now, but overall good and preferable to Windjammer for breakfast (very overcrowded WJ; seating difficult).  

 

Dining Room lunch:  Sea Day only.  The hidden gem of the trip.  When the ship starts doing 2 calls at CocoCay this will be no more.  Genuinely good strip steaks, abundant serve yourself shrimp cocktail, pasta bar, chopped salad bar, ice cream sundae bar, fruit smoothies, nice cheese and meat spread, great variety.  plus a la carte menu if you decide.  

 

El Loco Fresh:  Just tried one burrito from here; nice salsa/guacamole bar.  Limited menu but quick serve, good quality, was busy at all opening times.  1PM too late to open.  Should be 11AM as right near pool.  

 

Johnny Rockets:  This is a total waste of space.  Remove the JR logo, stop trying to charge people for burgers and fries on a ship.  It's tacky.  Was deserted whenever I saw it; Bar was busy but food was a bust.  If you're going to serve burgers and fries near the pool, just do it.  This isn't a motel 6 cost vacation.  I think this space will end up being repurposed to be honest.  

 

CocoCay:  RCI hit a home run here and the upgrades are very impressive and surpassed expectations. 

 

One note for people w kids:  That free Captains Galleon play feature is a death trap.  One of the slides they have already stopped using.  The second slide requires climbing a near vertical ladder even my kid had trouble with and he is very spry.  the third slide dumps you out straight onto concrete and into other kids playing with water guns.   Continue past the pirate ship and go to the free kids splash pad.  This is actually a huge, well designed, awesome splash pad adjacent to food, bar, bathrooms, with seating for parents.  A+ to RCI for the free larger splash pad area. 

 

Spent the day at Chill Beach near one of the Snack Shacks.  They have some soccer games, beach bowling, volleyball, bean bag toss, etc. setup all free for use.  Snack Shack has a serve yourself fruit and juice bar, plus order window w chicken sandwich, burgers, fries, funnel cake, mozz sticks, etc.  No charge.  I really wasn't hungry so had a chicken sandwich and half order of cheese sticks and that was it for the day.  Way better than any of the lousy old beach BBQ they used to do at CocoCay.  Walked through the buffet areas and saw new additions, steak sandwiches, veggie sandwiches, etc.  Everything looked like a huge improvement from the past.  

 

Too much music from the Oasis Lagoon at Chill Beach; was hoping that area would be a bit quieter.  No problem with the party atmosphere at the pool, I know a lot of people love it, but little difficult to get an actual quiet beach spot.  they are still working on South Beach so perhaps once that opens can put some more distance on the Oasis Lagoon if you want a really quiet area.  

 

But that Oasis Lagoon is a really impressive area.  The pool is HUGE.  Genuinely huge.  People were having a blast partying.  It's about 3'6" to about 4' deep and has soft steps and a great zero entry section.  A+ RCI nailed it on the pool.  

 

A++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ to RCI providing free beach umbrellas.  

 

Look, I didn't want to spend a cent at CocoCay, and I didn't have to.  I was anxious I'd feel crowded and like I was missing out.  Not at all.  Not crowded (Navigator and Majesty in port).   I mean, yeah it was crowded and busy, but not tight, not fighting over chairs.  Went for a couple laps in pool around 3 before going back to ship and pool area was slammed, but still manageable.  Labadee sailaway is much prettier, but CocoCay has it all over Labadee or any other private cruise beach I've been to.  

 

Random thought:  The dedicated TV channel with the bridge camera is gone.  Now it shows up on the map channel for like 3 seconds after the map cycles a few times.  Used to be a handy way to check time of day and weather for us interior room stowaways.  TBH; would have the bridge cam on while getting ready for dinner in the past quite often.  Weird choice RCI.  

 

Diamond Lounge moved from Viking Crown Lounge (with outdoor seating) .  Now in former cigar bar.  Very comfortable and nicely appointed.  Small.  SMALL.  SMALL.  Nice that it has windows though and one day the main door to the outside (side entrance to Star Lounge) was open so we could take our drinks outside on Deck 5.  Previous lounge was one of my favorites ever so this pales, but it is still nice and for these short sailings makes sense.  Service excellent. 

 

Voyager class remains a favorite of mine.  I've long said these ships would crush it on the 3/4 day itineraries.  I've sailed NCL Sky many times, I've sailed Carnival Victory many times, I've also sailed Majesty and Empress on their short Bahamas itineraries and now have done Mariner and Navigator on their Bahamas itineraries and the Voyager class ship is so far above the rest; it really provides an excellent floating resort with lots of entertainment and amenities.  The few nitpicky things are just that, nitpicky.  Navigator crushes it.  CocoCay crushes it.  

 

For those keeping score: Diamond drinks can be used at any venue on the ship, no problem at all.   My son got a Dreamworks and Barbie coloring book set.  Which is cool.  Even though RCI doesn't have those brands anymore.  And he never got that book in the past, when they did.  Someone must've found a box somewhere and unearthed them.  

 

Note about kids club while I remember; the space of the former kids club is now gym/spa area.  So the kids club has been condensed.  My son never did any day time activities but we would take him there after dinner but before the show (so he could play for about 90 mins - 2 hours and hopefully blow off steam).  The club limit is 90 kids.  They group ages 3 - 11 all together in the same room.  That seemed like quite a big range to me and the total number of kids seemed low, but that's a function of the space and number of club counselors.  He loved it and had fun.  I can't say about late night hours or daytime activities.  So, less than in the past, but again, for these short sailings, it makes sense and works.  Or at least it worked for us.  It's right under the basketball court which isn't a problem for a kids club, but not sure how that works out for you spa/gym people; check the area out! 

 

It was a good trip.  That terminal A is absolutely seamless.  So easy.  Just a note about that too:  If you do your setsail pass before you get to the terminal it doesn't matter if you are Key, Pinnacle, Diamond, first timer; you just are going to someone who scans the pass and puts you into security line.  At no point would anything being "expedited" have made it faster for us.  This was true for Allure and true for Navigator now as well.  It's a really efficient terminal and process.  I never went to any kind of Diamond line because we never waited behind anyone and never stopped moving.  From walking in to on the ship took maybe 10 minutes?  Walking off the ship was similar; basically never stopped moving once we decided it was "go" time.  Does ANYONE from Carnival or NCL ever book an RCI cruise to see how the right way to handle this stuff is??  A+ for terminal experience twice now.  

 

If you have questions about things let me know.  I didn't keep any papers.  I didn't take many pictures.  the only Diamond offers I used besides our nightly drinks was to get a free photo and requested a robe to use in the room.  

 

 

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Another random thought:  Ice cream machine now in a hut; so a staffer serves you.  Way faster, cleaner, neater than do it yourself.  Less waste, no more foot tall cones falling over.  Looks a bit classier now instead of just a machine out on the deck. 

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Did you find the upper pool deck more crowded with the addition of the whirlpools taking up some lounger space?

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2 minutes ago, Crism said:

Did you find the upper pool deck more crowded with the addition of the whirlpools taking up some lounger space?

 

Was on in April (9-night) and I didn't see this as much of an issue as the segregated space for star or suites or whatever deck 12 forward. It's roped off and at least for our sailing, I only saw 2-3 people in there during sea days. Maybe its sailing specific and I understand they should have their own space, but I think they need downsize or monitor and notice it was way underutilized. 

 

As far as Navigator's flops, I agree with the 3. It is a shame that the Bamboo Room is a flop because it is my absolute favorite RCI bar. The problems are this: dark room/no ocean view at all, under-trained staff (was talking to them and nobody wants to work there because of the extra prep work and length of time it takes to make drinks), and quite honestly some of these drinks are over people's heads, unless you're into tiki drinks/culture.

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1 hour ago, LMaxwell said:

Another random thought:  Ice cream machine now in a hut; so a staffer serves you.  Way faster, cleaner, neater than do it yourself.  Less waste, no more foot tall cones falling over.  Looks a bit classier now instead of just a machine out on the deck. 

 

Does that hut have decent hours? 

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2 hours ago, LMaxwell said:

Another random thought:  Ice cream machine now in a hut; so a staffer serves you.  Way faster, cleaner, neater than do it yourself.  Less waste, no more foot tall cones falling over.  Looks a bit classier now instead of just a machine out on the deck. 

Is it still by the pool?  My DH makes MANY trips to the ice cream machine lol

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5 hours ago, Crism said:

Did you find the upper pool deck more crowded with the addition of the whirlpools taking up some lounger space?

 

Yes, but the space is so narrow now that is discourages runners or walkers.  The ship could stand to add a couple more whirlpools, IMO.   But for the purpose of the ship...it works.  

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3 hours ago, NateUpNorth said:

 

Does that hut have decent hours? 

standard 11-6 approx 

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2 hours ago, green eyed lady said:

Is it still by the pool?  My DH makes MANY trips to the ice cream machine lol

Yes, same location, just no more self-service 

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Thanks for the informative review.😊   Will be on B2B2B in a couple weeks and read with interest.  WJ late night snacks sounds like a good addition guests will like.

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Wow, I can't wait for my turn on the Navigator this coming October.  Excellent overall review too, thank you!  

 

How was the ac at night, did it keep cool?

 

Love hearing there are some food items at the WJ late at night, a plus for sure!  Love hearing about Coco Cay, my brother and sister in law just got back from the Empress and went there, they loved it just like you did, I can't wait to go there myself, but hoping they keep the one sea day for us too as we love sea days.

 

What level in the MDR was anytime dining?

 

I decided to take the 10:30am flight, you as well as a handful of other people that just got off the Navigator mentioned about how easy it was and fast getting off the ship, I think I will make it, better to get home than to sit around the airport until the next flight at 1:45.

 

Any comments about Playmakers?  Did you try Hooked Seafood?

 

So glad you had a wonderful cruise, thank you for the review.

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Posted (edited)

Great review.  We were on 4 night Mariner a week and a half ago and echo many of your points.  The "pay" low cost food venues were empty; never saw anyone in Johnny Rockets (the last time I was in a Johnny Rockets was in Dublin, Ireland in 2002; the concept is tired to say the least), Playmakers was a nice bar with great service but I never saw anyone ordering food ($); always had three bartenders there at your disposal.  Mariner has the free hot dog/brats on pool deck; actually was pretty good.  Same thing at Port Canaveral no lines at check in just find a rep (they will find you actually) with a wireless tablet and keep walking; car to room in 15 minutes (we arrived at 1245 on purpose).  CoCo Cay as you said is the new standard and best private island of any line, finally a decent burger at the Snack Shack; Royal got this right on the money.  Cheers.... 

Edited by CelticMCO

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When we were on the ship back in April, there was never a line for the slides. I guess it's a different crowd on the shorter party cruises.  The Blow Dry Bar is definitely a flop when we were on the ship.  However, The Bamboo Room was well used and IMO made the best cocktails on the ship.  The Johnny Rockets to Go saw some action with people buying burgers back to their rooms to eat but was so much from people already at/by the pool.  I was tempted to get a milk shake but never got around to it.

 

 

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Thanks very much for the review.  I have an inside stateroom booked on Deck 11 for next summer.  Thought it would be pretty cool to be right on the pool deck.

 

Also nice to hear the positive reviews on the changes on Coco Cay.

Edited by JosieCat-MN
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On 8/26/2019 at 10:34 AM, LMaxwell said:

Was on Navigator a week ago

 

Spot on... although we did enjoy the Bamboo Room. We sailed her back in May so maybe the newness has worn off a little. It was busy every night we went in. There wasn't much we didn't like except the reserved suite area is pretty lame. They probably should've put it up on one side of Deck 13. That's where I spent most of my sun time anyway.

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