Friday, March 1, 2019

[Day 3] Navigator of the Seas - Labadee

Rachel likes to sleep with the balcony door open.  I know this is generally frowned upon because it messes up the balance for the air conditioning, but we do it anyway (my sincere apologies to the mechanical engineers and environmentalists of the world).  And because our stateroom was a lower deck than normal, the waves at night were LOUD.  Around 7 AM we woke up to the ship pulling into port in Labadee.  Soon after we were greeted by an incredibly untalented Caribbean band BLARING Caribbean tunes.  Rachel got up to shut the door.  But we could still hear them.  Especially the piercing woodblock.  It was like a metronome for every song they played.  *PING-PING-PING-PING-PING-PING-PING-PING*  Uggghhhhhhh someone make it stop!!!!  It is too early for this.  We tried to sleep in, but the woodblock haunted my dreams.

Labadee is one of Royal Caribbean's two private islands.  We've been here a few times before.  At the moment, Labadee is more developed than CoCo Cay.  However, CoCo Cay is under construction and will receive a lot of new facilities like a water park, so it may soon be the nicer Royal Caribbean island.

Labadee

There they are, the terrible Caribbean band, located in the prime location also known as directly underneath our balcony.

Labadee

Monday, January 14, 2019

[Day 2] Navigator of the Seas - At Sea

Our first true day on the ship was a sea day - perfect for sleeping in and not really doing anything!  To our surprise, our father did not call and try to wake us up.  We found out a few days later that the ringer on our phone was muted, so he actually might have tried to call, but we didn't hear it.

We got up and I unpacked Rachel's suitcase.  Rachel has learned that over the years all it takes is for her to ask, "Will you unpack my suitcase?" and I'll do it.  Storing things away is something I enjoy doing.  Like I said, there was space for everything - and even extra shelves up high that we didn't use.

Then we debated for awhile and decided to head to the gym.  The gym on the Navigator is really nice.  It's large and at the front of the ship with a great view.  There's a nice open area for cardio where they also host classes.  Unfortunately, they're going to be doing away with this large gym in the remodel - they're putting additional staterooms in its place and moving the new gym to a different location.  I took a few really horrible photos of the gym -

Fitness Center

Saturday, January 5, 2019

[Day 1] Navigator of the Seas - Miami Embarkation

Ahoy!  Welcome to my Navigator of the Seas Trip Report, and my family's 10th Annual Christmas Cruise!

My family started cruising over Christmas back in 2009 with a 9-day Eastern Caribbean Cruise aboard the Grandeur of the Seas, and we've gone every year since.  We like to sail where it's warm, so we often choose Caribbean itineraries, and we've also done 10 and 17-day Panama Canal cruises (my personal favorite itinerary if you have the time).  We aren't loyalists to any particular cruise line, and choose our cruise based on the itinerary, length, and ship.

Rachel has taken over as the family's cruise planner, so she narrowed down our options.  We ultimately chose the 10-day "ABC" Caribbean Cruise on the Navigator of the Seas because it included ports that we haven't traveled to before.  While we've been to Aruba a few times, none of us had been to Bonaire, and only I had sailed to Curacao.

Also, Rachel was on the Royal Caribbean website and excited about the Navigator's new upgrades including new pools and water slides... only to learn that they hadn't actually happened yet.  The upgraded Navigator of the Seas will start sailing in Spring 2019.  The Navigator of the Seas we were sailing on had been most recently updated in 2014 to add the Flow Rider to the aft.

The Navigator departed from Miami.  I live in Los Angeles, so I had to fly cross-country.  My parents live in South Carolina, and my sister in Atlanta, so they had the option of driving.  For better airline pricing, my dad decided to have my sister and I fly into Orlando the night before, while he and my mom would drive to Orlando.  We'd all spend the night near the airport there, then drive the rest of the way to Miami the morning of departure.

Alas, the Port of Miami, and a glimpse of the ship!

Port of Miami

We often drive to the port, and it always results in the same kind of scramble.  My parents like to tetris-style pack the Suburban with luggage and snacks and a cooler.  And my mother always packs in an assortment of bags - some which stay in the car (they were headed to Walt Disney World after the cruise), so when we pull up and they start unloading our luggage, it results in my mom saying, "Woah, woah, woah!" and then crawling into the third-row seat and pointing and what should stay and what should go.  And then there's the tidying of the car to situate everything before it's parked.  And my dad trying to decide whether or not he should carry his own passport or leave it with us.  All while Rachel and I wait on the curb awkwardly dodging men tossing around suitcases.  At least we're organized and not bringing things on the ship that we don't need.  Nearly 20 years of cruising, now, and some things just don't change.

Then we wait on Dad to park the car, and hopefully remember where (one time we returned from a cruise to check every single level of a parking garage, only to learn that had returned to a different terminal and were parked in a different garage).

Port of Miami

Saturday, August 4, 2018

[Day 4 | Part 1] Double-Dip at Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay

Back at it with another day at Castaway Cay.  A big incentive to book this cruise was that it included two stops at Castaway Cay, our favorite private island.  I've gushed about it before, but Castaway Cay is truly a large step above any other cruise line owned private island, including Royal Caribbean's Labadee.  This post is composed mainly of photos which are pure eye candy of the island.  Warning - you may have an urge to drop whatever you're doing and book a cruise to Castaway Cay.  Because that's what I wanted to do when composing it.

That morning, we dined in the Enchanted Garden restaurant.  Both Enchanted Garden and Royal Palace are open for breakfast in the mornings and can be a nice break from the craziness of the morning buffet crowd.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

[Day 3] Princesses and Palo Brunch

This morning we arrived in Nassau.  However, we decided to treat today like a sea day and not get off the ship.  We've been to Nassau many times, and it's not our favorite port of call.  The public beaches are no match for those of Castaway Cay, and the private beaches, like Atlantis, are expensive (you have to pay just to walk inside Atlantis Resort).  Since we only had a few days on the Disney Dream, we figured that today would be better spent enjoying the ship.

Nassau

Rachel booked us two character meet and greets in the morning, along with Palo Brunch.

We started with the Princess Meet & Greet in the atrium at 9 AM.  These character interactions require a reservation to be made online in advance, similar to booking and excursion, and you receive a printed excursion ticket in your stateroom with the time of your meet & greet printed on it.  Note that it's important to get an excursion ticket for all members of your party, even if they aren't meeting the characters.  For example, if you have two kids and only book two meet & greet tickets, only the kids will be able to go through the line to meet the characters, and you won't be allowed to follow with a camera (which might be fine if you have the photo package because there are photographers with every princess).

Monday, October 9, 2017

[Day 2 | Part 2] Serenity Bay and Afternoon Rain

Rachel and I rinsed off and got ready for the beach, then we headed back out to Castaway Cay.

In case you forgot, it's still beautiful.

Disney Dream

When you're getting off the ship, they have an area where they are passing out towels, selling bottles of water, and also distributing bug-repellent (lotion, not spray).  Make sure to get at least two towels per person, maybe three, because there is no other place to get fresh towels on the island, and it will most likely rain at some point during the day, soaking at least one of your towels.

You can pass on the water if you bring your own bottle and fill it before leaving the ship - there are soda/water fill stations on Deck 11 of the Disney Dream (and Fantasy, Deck 9 of the Wonder/Magic).  But a trick I like to use is to get ice delivered to the room the night before, let it melt a little overnight, then fill the bottle with icy water the next morning.