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Big Easy Cruise - Navigator of the Seas - March 2 to 9, 2013 - with photographs

Discussion in 'Royal Caribbean International' started by Cruizer, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. Cruizer

    Cruizer Well-Known Member

    [FONT=&quot]Wednesday, March 06, 2013 – Falmouth, Jamaica

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    [FONT=&quot]The captain said that we would back in. I thought that mean we would spin before docking. But instead we spun before backing down a fairly narrow channel. We docked with my balcony facing the dock and the village created by Royal Caribbean. So I was at the back of the ship taking pictures of the dock as we approached the pier. The Freedom of the Seas arrived soon after us. Per the captain, we can expect temperatures between the upper seventies and lower eighties. We are also warned that the crew is having a safety drill and that the passengers should ignore the call to muster stations and other safety drill related announcements.
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    [FONT=&quot]I have my only ship sponsored shore excursion (Jamaica Swamp Safari Village) that meets on land at 10:15am, so I am in no rush. I go back to the cabin to upload the photographs, work on this and back everything up. Then I shower, dress and grab a banana for breakfast. I head down to the dock to explore the village on my way to where the tour meets. I pose for my only gangplank photo and the woman who I spoke to last night about the missing group photo is there and informs me that the group photo book has been found.
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    [FONT=&quot]The village is a really neat area with all the usual trappings (Diamonds International, Tanzanite International, Del Sol, hair braiding …). However, the prices are high, which leads me to wonder what percentage of each sale goes to Royal Caribbean. Also, the tax rate is something else. I bought a hot dog for $5 and with tax it came to $6 (that is 20%). However, that was a cash transaction. Based on a printed credit card receipt I have, a $5.15 drink includes an eight-five cent GCT tax. That comes to 16.5%, which is double the sales tax I pay living in Los Angeles.
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    [FONT=&quot]I am going to the Swamp Safari Village. I signed up for the tour a while ago and don’t remember exactly what it is, but I do remember it sounded interesting. It turns out to be a place crocodiles are brought to when they are captured after threatening people or pets. There is also a bird aviary, snakes and rodents, but mostly crocodiles. It is also the place where the famous crocodile-jumping scene in Live and Let Die (James Bond) was shot. They also have a pet baby goat named shampoo which follows the person who gave him his milk around just like a little puppy. That was an enjoyable tour. It gets my recommendation.
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    [FONT=&quot]To get back into the village next to the ship every single one of us, while still on the bus, had to show our room key. Yet I am surprised to find at least two school groups inside enjoying the day. I have no problem with it, but if it is only for cruise ship passengers, then why are non-cruise ship passengers allowed in? At any rate I decide to enjoy some jerk chicken at the Spice Chicken and Bar (the only restaurant I saw inside the fenced in area).
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    [FONT=&quot]Back on the ship I decide to shower rest and work on this, except I get wrapped up in a couple of programs on the TV and don’t get much of this done. Before dinner I go get the group picture before they lose it again. At dinner the other table is empty (tonight they all went to Chops). If I recall correctly, our group has one first seating table and three second seating tables, all next to each other. I ask for an appetizer portion of the pasta and order another steak from Chops (which cost less this time as I don’t have to pay the Louisiana sales tax). However, I ended up with the full dinner portion of the pasta. In addition I used another one of my two for one drink coupons.
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    [FONT=&quot]After dinner I head back to work on this, upload my pictures and back everything up. We are moving our clocks back one hour (back to central time) tomorrow morning. I also check out the movie offerings on the TV and find one I might watch on Friday. [/FONT]


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  2. Cruizer

    Cruizer Well-Known Member

  3. Cruizer

    Cruizer Well-Known Member

    Thursday, March 07, 2013 – Day at Sea

    Today is a nice relaxing day at sea. My plans are to leaving the cabin long enough for the room steward to do his thing, attend the Captain’s Corner at 1pm, do a little swimming and attend a Top Tier event (which I assume is for Diamond and up). Diamond members also get invited to a behind the scenes chit-chat with the entertainers. I did that on the Enchantment (where I was Emerald) and didn’t find it all that interesting. I’m waiting until I make Diamond Plus and then get invited to a bridge tour. Also, tonight is the second formal night.

    I’m up in time for sunrise but can see that there are clouds on the horizon, so I never leave the cabin. Later in the morning I shower and dress, then go to breakfast. I don’t bring breakfast back to the cabin so that I am not interfering with the cabin steward. After breakfast I run around taking more pictures hoping to kill an hour before returning to the cabin. My plan works and when I return to the cabin the cabin steward has finished his work.

    I upload the pictures, work on this and soon it is time for the Captain’s Corner. I didn’t take notes, but I did ask a couple of questions and I remember one other question that was asked of the captain, who was the only one there (usually the hotel manager, ship’s engineer or cruise director also attend).

    I asked about the vacation schedule of the lower ranking navigation officers. We all know the captain only works 50% of the year and that the rest of the crew works sixty-seven to seventy-five percent of the year. But nobody ever mentioned what the lower ranking navigation officers’ schedule was. They also work 50% of the time and I was surprised to learn that there are more than one first officer and second officer aboard this ship. I also asked about the clearance when turning in the river (when leaving the Port of New Orleans) and when passing the other two cruise ships. The captain said that there was about 45 feet of clearance in back and about 400 feet in front when he spun the ship before leaving New Orleans. He says you always want to leave lots of room in front just in case you have to get going in a hurry. He said there was 400 feet of clearance between the Carnival Conquest and our ship, and slightly less between the NCL ship and our ship.

    The other question I remember was about what was learned from the recent Carnival problems. The captain said the report on the Triumph fire is not out yet. As to the Splendor he said that the Carnival ships and the Royal Caribbean ships are built differently. That the Carnival ships have one breaker box while Royal Caribbean ships have two, so that if a Royal Caribbean ship loses one breaker box for whatever reason, the ship will still have half it power available. That sounds like something that should be a requirement on all new builds (in my opinion).

    After the captain’s corner I asked him if he knew the name of the NCL ship. He said it was the Sky or Star. I’ve been on the Star and it was not the Star. However, someone else said it was the Spirit and that is a possibility. It is either the NCL Sky or the NCL Spirit, but I don’t know which. After that I went swimming. The pools were less crowded than I would have expected. However, the weather is nice, not hot, so that may have something to do with why there were not more people in the pool.

    After swimming I showered, uploaded the pictures, brought this up-to-date and checked my account balance against my own records. Oops, there is an error. I’ve been charged for two gratuities today. Down to guest services to have that corrected. I am told that that the extra gratuity is tomorrow’s gratuity and that I will not be billed for a gratuity tomorrow (we will see about that).

    There was a sunset worth photographing today. There were some clouds on the horizon but not enough to totally block the sun, so finally something worth photographing. And the best part was I never had to leave my balcony.

    Well, time to get ready for tonight, so I’ll see you after dinner.

    Well, the “Top Tier†event was for platinum and above. That is not so “Top Tier†since platinum is the second lowest tier (just above gold which is the lowest tier). Nothing unusual, though the captain did recognize me (I guess I asked too many questions at the Captain’s Corner). Still, it was nice event.

    Afterwards I posed for four pictures wearing my red Caribbean shirt from Hell (the word Hell was covered up by my jacket). Then for dinner I had the pasta as an appetizer (and this time it was an appetizer portion) and prime rib as the main course. Both were very good. In fact, I would have to say that the meals I have had this week are the best I have had on Royal Caribbean and up there with the best I have had on any of my cruises.

    So, I’m back in the cabin now updating this and uploading my photographs (including some food porn from last night and tonight), and updating my spreadsheet with the all the spending I have done (I also used the last of my two for one drink coupons). Tomorrow I’ve got a group golf tournament at 10am and a garbage pail party at 3:30pm (I have no idea what that is) and unfortunately I also have to pack. So until tomorrow morning, good night.

    For those that are interested, I have uploaded over 2300 photographs taking up 12.5 gigabytes of space. This review is currently over nine thousand words taking up sixteen single spaced type written pages.

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    Missed ...
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  4. Cruizer

    Cruizer Well-Known Member

    Friday, March 8, 2013 – Day at Sea

    Once again I am up in time for a sunrise photo (but only by a few minutes). I look outside and realized that there are clouds on the horizon, so I don’t bother dressing to go out on deck (my balcony faces west during the trip back to New Orleans).

    However, I did shower, dress and eat breakfast in time to join the group’s golf tournament on deck thirteen. Then back to the cabin to drop off a few things. I’ve been out of the cabin for ninety minutes but the cabin steward has not arrived yet. Fortunately I want to look at yesterday’s formal photographs and get my DVD and CD. When I got to the photo area I saw a sign that because of the Louisiana tax, the photo shop will close at 8:30pm tonight. The captain said that we would pick up the pilot at 10pm and would pick up the river pilot when we enter the Mississippi River at midnight. When I return to the cabin with four more photographs the cabin steward was just finishing up.

    It is time to start organizing my packing. I don’t have a scale with me and I was up to 43 pounds when I flew to New Orleans. I am leaving my old dress shoes, so that will save a few pounds and I put some of the heavier things I have purchased in my carry-ons. I also check out the debarkation video, upload some photographs, work on this a bit and watch a movie. Soon it is time for the garbage pail party. It is simply a final get together where everyone brings their left over drinks (thus the name). These are a great bunch of people and I am glad I had a chance to meet them all.

    Back at the cabin I upload my new photos, work on this and checkout the sunset from my balcony. Finally, no clouds on the horizon. However, there were some very low clouds overhead, which kept it from being perfect. Still, it was the best sunset of the week.

    Well, here we are on the last full day and I realize that I have not really described my cabin. I am in a junior suit on the “humpâ€. I am not in the center of the hump because I wanted a forward facing cabin. So I am in the cabin next to the center, which faces slightly forward. Inside the cabin there is a couch and a stuffed chair with a matching ottoman. In addition there is a small glass table. Otherwise it is a wider balcony cabin with a tub shower and a walk-in closet. It is probably about three feet winder than a normal balcony cabin. There is a post between the sliding door and a smaller floor to ceiling window which would provide a perfect hiding place for a three year old. It is a very nice cabin that would be roomy enough for three or four people (even though this cabin only holds two).

    I fill out the survey and the custom’s form. Waiting for the time to go to dinner my room steward knocks on the door. Doesn’t he know I have late dining by now? Also, I have used the make up my room card every single time. So why is the room steward knocking on my door before 8pm?

    Well, dinner was bitter sweat. Dinner was good as usual for this cruise, but I ended up saying good-bye to new friends, both the group and the waiter. For the first time a group cruise I was on when off with no problems. Two group cruises ago our leader suddenly disappeared (really, no one in the group knew where he was or how to contact him). If that wasn’t bad enough, the last group cruise I was on, the leader died before the cruise. This was a good group cruise and I’m glad I had the chance to meet everybody. That said, the cruise was really good - one of my favorites. It certainly made up for a much weaker cruise experience on my last cruise. We left one day late and thus only went to one port instead of two. It wasn’t a bad cruise, but it sure did not match the enjoyment of this cruise. I would like to cruise out of New Orleans again in the summer when I will be able to see more of the Mississippi River. Also, I sure would not mind cruising out of New Orleans again. This is one of the more interesting cities to visit and cruise out of.

    After dinner I went back to the cabin, changed my clothes and put my luggage out to be picked up. I noticed it was 10pm so I looked outside and it did appear that we had slowed down. I checked the TV and sure enough we had slowed down. I went back outside just in time to see the pilot boat take off. I’ll try to stay awake long enough to see us enter the Mississippi River.

    I must also say that our captain was a great person. I assume all captains know what they are doing and do it well. But a captain with a personality like Claus Andersen (our captain) can add to the cruise experience, and he did in a very positive way.

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  5. Cruizer

    Cruizer Well-Known Member

    Saturday, March 9, 2013

    As promised by the captain, we dock at 6am. The Carnival Elation docks in front of us at 7am. I shower and dress and head out for a quick breakfast consisting of a banana and orange juice. Then back to the cabin and over to the Schooner Bar which is the meeting place for those of us taking the City Tour to the airport. Given that there were five busloads of people on this tour, the Schooner Bar was a poor choice for a meeting place. The Ixtapa Lounge, which is right next door, would have been a much better choice.

    Departure numbers seven and eight were for the shore excursion people. When it came time to debark they called numbers one through twelve. Instantly the situation when from controlled to messy, as one third of the ship suddenly tries to debark at the same time. Why give out numbers if you are going to send more than one thousand people on their way all at the same time? Since we were right next to the exit door we were in the front of the instantly long line.

    I took this tour not so much because it was interesting, but rather because it would chew up a few hours of time and get me to the airport for half the price of a rental car for the day. Thanks to the traffic I barely made it with seven hours to spare. I spent the first three and half hours inside the airport pre-check in on a nice comfortable couch going through my pictures because I don’t think you can check in more than four hours early. Besides since New Orleans was kind enough to supply such a comfortable place to relax, I thought it would rude not to take advantage of it.

    From where I was sitting I had a clear view of the check in line and thus was able to go check in when the line was very short, like no waiting at all. The security line was less than five minutes and I found a restaurant to sit down and enjoy an early dinner.

    Originally I was on a 3:45pm flight that went to San Francisco and then I would change planes to get to LAX. However, United cancelled that flight and this one became available. It leaves four hours later, but I only arrive home one hour later because this is a non-stop. I wonder how we exit the plane if it doesn’t stop? Do they fly low and just push us out the door? What about the luggage? Well I guess I’ll find out soon enough. At any rate I decide to check on the status of my plane. It is on time, but it is coming from Houston. I realize it will not take seven hours from Houston, but United is kind enough to provide the flight number, so I can check on its status. The plane left San Francisco a few minutes early and is heading to Houston, so it is looking good.

    So now I am inside the secure area at a restaurant. This time my right leg (and the rest of my body), made it through the security check point without any problems. I decided to try the short ribs (and they sure are short). It comes with some small cut up potatoes and other equally small purple things. I pass on the potatoes and purple things. While waiting for my meal to arrive I decide to check on the status of my flight again. Now it is a half hour late. What happened? I check the status and it is still a flight from Houston, but now it is coming from Mexico, not San Francisco and is arriving in Houston seventy minutes late. Oh well, better to have this happen on the inbound flight than on the outbound flight (which was on time).

    The ribs and pretzel (which I picked up on the way to the restaurant) were okay. But the tax rate of $2.25 for a $19.60 meal works out to 11.5% (about three percentage points more than I pay in Los Angeles). Well, since I am done with my meal and it is not fair to continue to take up a table, I decide to head over to gate. I hope I can make it in time (the plane hasn’t left Houston yet).

    Well I’m at the gate now and there is a very long line. Why, because the plane to Washington DC is running fifteen minutes late. Why then do half the people need to make other arrangements? Fifteen minutes is no big deal. Meanwhile my plane has not landed in Houston yet.

    Well, it is 6:15pm and the plane just landed in Houston. Someone just made an announcement that the plane will be more than thirty minutes late. If we cannot make our connection in Los Angeles, United will pay for a hotel for the night. I’m only worried about a share the ride van. Hopefully they keep track of the flights and know that the flight is running late. Well, back to proof reading, though I usually only catch about 80% of the errors because it is very hard to proof read your own writing.

    It is 7:35pm and the plane is on the ground here in New Orleans. Per the schedule we should have taken off two minutes ago. So far I have proof read half of this review (which is over eleven thousand words and 22 single spaced type written pages). So I’ll be back at you after I get home.

    The flight home was uneventful. The movie was Skyfall, which is the latest James Bond flick. After the move I finished proof reading this. I hope I caught all the errors, but most likely I didn't. At any rate we landed about thirty minutes behind schedule. I get my checked bag and have to wait about fifteen minutes for the van to show up. One more lap around LAX with no new customers we are off. There are only two of us and I am the second one dropped off. I made it home around midnight.

    In summary this was a very enjoyable and much needed vacation. It is simply one person's account of one cruise. Soon the Navigator of the Seas will head back to Europe. It will be replaced by the Serenade of the Seas, which is a different class of ship (the Radiance class which is about two thirds the size of the Navigator OTS). I enjoy writing the review and taking the pictures. Hopefully someone will find something useful and/or helpful in this review. So, until my next cruise, good-by and good night.

    Here are some links to some (thirteen) short videos from the cruise ...

    [video]http://s18.beta.photobucket.com/user/ZefH/media/RC%20Navigator%20OTS%202/NO%20and%20Nav%20videos/DSC_5762_zpscfb2c20a.mp4.html[/video]

    [video]http://s18.beta.photobucket.com/user/ZefH/media/RC%20Navigator%20OTS%202/NO%20and%20Nav%20videos/DSC_5760_zps1475e22a.mp4.html[/video]

    [video]http://s18.beta.photobucket.com/user/ZefH/media/RC%20Navigator%20OTS%202/NO%20and%20Nav%20videos/DSC_5761_zpseed3c767.mp4.html[/video]

    [video]http://s18.beta.photobucket.com/user/ZefH/media/RC%20Navigator%20OTS%202/NO%20and%20Nav%20videos/DSC_6465_zps374614d7.mp4.html[/video]

    [video]http://s18.beta.photobucket.com/user/ZefH/media/RC%20Navigator%20OTS%202/NO%20and%20Nav%20videos/DSC_6406_zps9645528a.mp4.html[/video]

    [video]http://s18.beta.photobucket.com/user/ZefH/media/RC%20Navigator%20OTS%202/NO%20and%20Nav%20videos/DSC_7045_zpsa9a28020.mp4.html[/video]

    [video]http://s18.beta.photobucket.com/user/ZefH/media/RC%20Navigator%20OTS%202/NO%20and%20Nav%20videos/DSC_6179_zps2a193a9f.mp4.html[/video]

    [video]http://s18.beta.photobucket.com/user/ZefH/media/RC%20Navigator%20OTS%202/NO%20and%20Nav%20videos/DSC_6993_zps4520e090.mp4.html[/video]

    [video]http://s18.beta.photobucket.com/user/ZefH/media/RC%20Navigator%20OTS%202/NO%20and%20Nav%20videos/MVI_0768_zps61edbf68.mp4.html[/video]

    [video]http://s18.beta.photobucket.com/user/ZefH/media/RC%20Navigator%20OTS%202/NO%20and%20Nav%20videos/DSC_7061_zps1590d80d.mp4.html[/video]

    [video]http://s18.beta.photobucket.com/user/ZefH/media/RC%20Navigator%20OTS%202/NO%20and%20Nav%20videos/DSC_7139_zps7ed905a3.mp4.html[/video]

    [video]http://s18.beta.photobucket.com/user/ZefH/media/RC%20Navigator%20OTS%202/NO%20and%20Nav%20videos/DSC_7361_zps493d2873.mp4.html[/video]

    [video]http://s18.beta.photobucket.com/user/ZefH/media/RC%20Navigator%20OTS%202/NO%20and%20Nav%20videos/MVI_0904_zpsde0359cf.mp4.html[/video]
     
  6. Einstein

    Einstein Well-Known Member

    One of the BEST Blog/Reviews I have ever read Zef. :thankyou: U have outdone yourself and your photos are spectatcular. :boogie: It was a pleasure meeting U and we are so glad U had a Gr8 time and enjoyed The BIG Easy Group Cruise and your time spent with 30+ other C@'s. :clap: I hope that someday our cruising paths will once again cross. :doubleup:
     
  7. tango55

    tango55 Well-Known Member

    Excellent job! I love your pics - wish we had met on the Nachez!

    Terry
     
  8. Karry

    Karry Well-Known Member

    Have enjoyed ALL your reviews. The Miracle and Splendor (I have that bookmarked since it will be our next 2 cruises! :doubleup:) and now this group cruise. Almost makes me feel like I was there with you! Don't think I am brave enough to swim with the manatees, tho! :no::scratch:Your cabin is really amazing. Whose cabin was the garbage pail party in and what # was it? Very unusual cabin and balcony. I would like to research it. Thank you for sharing your week.
     
  9. Cruizer

    Cruizer Well-Known Member

    That cabin belonged to "E" and Red. The cabin number is 7388. You'll find a similar cabin on the other end - 7688.
     
  10. Karry

    Karry Well-Known Member

    What kind of camera do you use? Your pictures are amazing. Sunset pictures are jaw dropping!:doubleup::doubleup:
     
  11. Cruizer

    Cruizer Well-Known Member

    Most of the pictures were taken with a Nikon 5100. Some of the pictures were taken with a Canon A1300.
     
  12. maw

    maw Wordsmith

    Thank you so much for the review with photos -you really did a good job covering the Navagator and caught so many things I did not see.

    Wondering have you been on Grandeur and posibly have pictures like these o it?
     
  13. red stripe

    red stripe Well-Known Member

    Enjoyed the review Cruizer, and great photos as usual.
    So that is what the captain looks like:biggrin: We did not make any of the invite events at all, and agree with you that backstage tours are a yawn.

    Laughed at your remarks about the past group cruise leaders you have had experience with. glad that we did not disappear or die:biggrin:

    Nice "map" to the Helicopter pad.. but I think that some cruise addicts already found it:biggrin: Mosaic Group Cruise



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  14. Cruizer

    Cruizer Well-Known Member

    No, I cruised out of Baltimore about one year ago on the Enchantment of the Seas. My next RC cruise will be on the Legend of the Seas early next year.
     
  15. Donna - dsw

    Donna - dsw Well-Known Member

    Great photos! Thanks for sharing!
     
  16. mrsrocster

    mrsrocster Well-Known Member

    Thank you so much for the great, detailed review and the amazing photos! I love that class of ship, brings me back to my first time on the Mariner of the Seas!
     

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