It doesn't take long for passengers on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas to get into vacation mode. From the ship's Caribbean-themed pool deck -- with colourful cabanas, hammocks and in-water loungers -- to its bustling Royal Promenade lined with fun bars and eateries, you could easily feel like you're at a tropical resort from the moment you step onboard.
Rest assured: There's far more to do onboard than laze away, dine and imbibe. Daredevils will love the ship's Perfect Storm duo of waterslides -- The Blaster aqua coaster and Riptide headfirst mat racer -- in addition to glow-in-the-dark laser tag, an escape room and Royal Caribbean staples like the rock climbing wall and FlowRider surf simulator.
Don't think the outdoor fun ends before dusk, either. The pool deck remains a popular attraction at any time of day, mostly thanks to the lively Lime and Coconut, a three-level bar that transforms from a daytime sunbathing spot to a nighttime, open-air lounge with a string light-dimmed balcony and rooftop -- the perfect place to catch movies on the pool screen with a bag of popcorn.
This laid-back atmosphere is ideal for families and groups looking for a worry-free getaway, where they don't have to dress up and go out for dinner if they don't want to. (Though, ladies might be motivated by the blow-dry bar that offers updos with a side of Champagne.)
When it comes to dining, Navigator of the Seas offers a nice variety for different tastes and budgets. But most, including newer additions like Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, Hooked Seafood and Jamie's Italian, do charge extra.
Daytime: Passengers dress casually during the day.
Evening: At night, passengers are encouraged to wear smart casual attire (jeans and collared shirts for men, and sundresses and blouses for women are a few examples). Some speciality restaurants enforce more formal dress codes -- collared shirts with jackets for men, and dresses, skirts and pantsuits for women. Jeans are generally allowed in all venues at dinner. Depending on the length of your sailing there will be at least one designated formal night for which you might wish to dress up. Outfit suggestions for these nights include suits and ties and tuxedos for men, and cocktail dresses or gowns for women.
Not permitted: Shorts are not allowed at dinner, regardless of the venue (with the sole exception of the buffet).
Navigator of the Seas undoubtedly is a busy ship, but it never feels overcrowded thanks to well spaced-out attractions, and the Royal Promenade, which flows like a land-based main street dotted with bars and shops. The Royal Promenade, in that sense, is the heart of the ship. Beyond the dining, drinking and shopping, passengers can partake in parades and themed dance parties like the popular '80s bash, where all ages are welcome.
Meanwhile, the casino sees traffic day and night, as it hosts tournaments in addition to offering a variety of table games and slot machines.
The main theatre onboard hosts nightly Broadway-inspired entertainment, but the most popular show is held in Studio B, where drones put on a light show before ice skaters enter and perform routines to hit songs from Madonna to Andrea Bocelli.
Navigator of the Seas is not a ship to which people get away for peace and quiet -- and it doesn't try to be. From the moment you wake up, you have free rein of activities such as glow-in-the-dark laser tag, escape room brain teasers, pool contests, sports tournaments, dance classes, trivia and bingo, though some of these do cost extra.
The offerings only heat up at night, when passengers begin to barhop their way through the Royal Promenade and congregate at lounges, where you'll find evening activities such as karaoke, '80s-themed parties, game shows and comedy shows. For those who do love to dance, Boleros is the go-to for salsa, while the DJ-led Cosmopolitan Club or Studio B keeps the party going till the wee hours of the morning.
Whether you want to sip frozen umbrella drinks on a swanky rooftop lounge, share a punch bowl with your sweetie or sample beers at a high-energy sports bar, Navigator of the Seas has you covered with an array of themed bars for every mood and craving.
Lime and Coconut (Deck 12): The Lime and Coconut bar sets the tone for the pool deck, with its vibrant colours, laid-back ambience and eye-catching features such as a blender bike that's occasionally wheeled out so people can pedal-mix their own drinks. Above the main bar, on Deck 13, is another bar on a balcony and then one deck above that bar is the Lime and Coconut Rooftop. Both spots provide more relaxed lounging spaces, illuminated by string lights and wonderful views of the pool and ocean.
The Bamboo Room (Deck 5): The tropical-style Bamboo Room transports passengers to French Polynesia through its decor and menu of tiki cocktails and snacks.
Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade (Deck 5): Countless flat-screen TVs ensure you'll never miss a major sports game at Playmakers, while games like pool, Jenga and arcade classics provide fun for everyone in the family. Beer flights and tasty snacks are the cherry on top.
Schooner Bar (Deck 4): This nautical-themed bar, a Royal Caribbean staple, is somewhat of an intimate space on Navigator of the Seas, located away from all the bustle of the Royal Promenade. Its location does not prevent it from being a hot spot in the evening, however, thanks to its proximity to the casino. There is a piano in the Schooner Bar, which also hosts occasional sing-alongs.
R Bar (Deck 5): Another Royal Caribbean classic, the R Bar is tucked away near the entrance to the Royal Promenade, making for a more relaxing space to imbibe. Drinks are pretty standard, but there are some unique seating arrangements, most notably, an ornate throne-style settee, which make for fun photos.
Boleros (Deck 4): Salsa music and mojitos go hand in hand at Boleros, Royal Caribbean's signature Latin club. Live bands occasionally make appearances.
Copper & Clover (Deck 5): This British pub-inspired joint serves beer (albeit not many craft options) and other drinks in a cosy, dim-lit space -- and is sometimes host to live guitar music.
Star Lounge (Deck 5): Navigator of the Seas' beautiful Star Lounge is where passengers can come to enjoy live music, ranging from Latin to jazz.
Cosmopolitan Club (Deck. 14): Nestled on one of the ship's uppermost decks, the Cosmopolitan Club boasts a welcoming feel; it's not enclosed, and it overflows with natural light thanks to a wraparound wall of windows. This venue is used as the nightclub after hours.
Suite Lounge (Deck 14): All passengers staying in suites have access to this intimate, glass-walled space perched at the top of the ship. There are complimentary snacks and drinks available, as well.
Diamond Club (Deck 5): Royal Caribbean's top-tier loyalty members have their own exclusive space for relaxing. Drinks and snack also can be found here, free of charge.
The outdoor offerings on Navigator of the Seas cater greatly to families, and there's something for everyone to stay entertained. Arguably the most popular attraction is the Caribbean-themed pool deck, which features a main pool surrounded by a shallow wading area, a kids' splash area and an adjacent hot tub. Despite the splash area being only a few steps away from the main pool, the pool tends to draw more families with little ones to its shallow water. (Families should note that children must be potty-trained to use any water facility, as swim diapers are not permitted.)
Those who want to escape the high-energy main pool area can enjoy the adults-only Solarium pool, with its own hot tubs and lounging space.
Navigator of the Seas is also jam-packed with outdoor recreational attractions, including two waterslides and Royal Caribbean staples like the rock climbing wall and FlowRider surf simulator. The Blaster is an aqua coaster on which passengers can ride solo or with a friend (on a two-person raft), while Riptide is a headfirst mat racer.
Sun deck space is plentiful, with lounge chairs available alongside the pool and even more seating on Deck 12, both overlooking the pool and toward the back of the ship. Cabanas, hammocks and clamshell loungers -- all available free of charge and on a first-come, first-served basis -- provide additional respite.
Navigator of the Seas' guest services, as well as its shore excursions desk, are located by the Royal Promenade entrance on Deck 5; directly above this space, on Deck 6, is where you'll find the NextCruise future cruise sales desk. There is an ATM available, and withdrawal fees do apply.
Further down the Royal Promenade is a tech station dedicated to assisting passengers with Royal Caribbean's Voom high-speed internet. (See Royal Caribbean internet prices here.)
On Deck 7, a joint library and card room provides an open space, with plenty of tables and seating, for reading and games. The shelves here are stocked with several books as well as some board games and decks of cards.
Additional services include the Photo Gallery on Deck 3 and a conference room on Deck 2.
The ship's medical centre is located on Deck 1.
There is no self-service laundry onboard Navigator of the Seas. The ship does, however, offer washing, pressing and dry cleaning services for a fee.
Adjacent to the adults-only Solarium pool area, on Deck 12, is Navigator of the Seas' Vitality Spa. The serene retreat offers 14 massage rooms, a large whirlpool and separates his and her saunas and steam rooms.
There is a separate salon area for haircuts, styling and treatments, as well as manicures, pedicures and other services, such as eyelash extensions, Botox, cellulite reduction, teeth whitening and acupuncture.
Massage prices range from $119 (50-minute Swedish or reflexology) to $349 (75-minute couples' hot stone). Any treatment can be paired with a DIY Scrub Experience add-on ($9).
Men's barbering services include grooming treatments with a shave, beard trims and haircuts with a styling.
Discounts are offered throughout the cruise, on select treatments as well as on port days.
The Vitality at Sea fitness centre onboard Navigator is not paired with the spa -- it's on the opposite side of the deck, at the back of the ship on Deck 12. It's a surprisingly small gym given the size of the ship; just about a dozen weight machines, plus four treadmills and a small TV screen along one wall. There is a very limited space for stretching.
You can sign up for classes in the fitness centre -- some carry an additional fee -- but there is an unlimited pass for the length of your cruise. Due to space constraints, we saw classes like Zumba taking place in the middle of the Royal Promenade. The jogging track is also located on Deck 12. Five laps equals 1 mile.
Navigator of the Seas takes a simple approach to dining, while offering a handful of speciality restaurants to satisfy different cravings. There's one dining room, where passengers can choose to either have dinner when they wish or at a set time; a traditional-style buffet and a cafe that serves complimentary coffee and snacks around the clock.
Where the dining quality and variety truly stands out on Navigator is in its speciality restaurants, which range from a cosy yet chic, New England-style seafood eatery to an edgy, Japanese street art-themed sushi bar to a more communal gastropub-style joint that serves savoury comfort foods. The catch: Seven out of eight of them cost extra. Most of these restaurants also are open for lunch or snacks (usually for less money) throughout the day, so you don't have to wait until dinner to treat your taste buds.
Gluten-free bread and other foods catering to special dietary needs are available at every restaurant; gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan items are marked on menus, but you can always ask if you don't see something.
Main Dining Room (Decks 3, 4 and 5)
Navigator of the Seas' Main Dining Room takes up prime real estate at the back of the ship. The three-deck venue is where passengers can enjoy nightly dinner free of charge -- opting for either My Time Dining (during which you can walk in and be seated whenever you want, between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m.) or traditional dining (where you sit at the same table, with the same wait staff, at 6 or 8:30 p.m. every night). Reservations are required for those who opt for My Time Dining.
The dinner menu includes starters like beef carpaccio, French onion soup, escargot and an iceberg wedge salad; main courses such as almond-crusted cod, duck a l'orange, vegetable casserole and your usual classics like chicken breast and steak; and desserts that range from carrot cake and sugar-free peach shortcake, to souffle and creme brulee.
For an added fee, you can select one of three "Premium Selections," including Maine lobster, filet mignon from the ship's Chops Grille steakhouse, and surf and turf.
Windjammer (Deck 11)
Navigator of the Seas' dedicated buffet is arguably the most convenient spot for a meal, as it is open throughout the day -- beginning with an "early riser" breakfast and ending with late-night snacks till midnight. For lunch and dinner, you'll find the basics such as a variety of sandwiches, pasta dishes and meats from a carving station. There's a bar that also serves Illy coffee, as soon as you walk in. Seating arrangements, including tables, booths and a few larger, round booths, are plentiful.
El Loco Fresh (Deck 12)
You can't miss this bright, colourful Mexican eatery on the pool deck. Its fiesta-inspired decor and ample seating along the windows lure in passengers for lunch and dinner (although this is referred to as "snacks" on the daily planner). Because of this outdoor venue's casual vibe and proximity to the pool, it tends to draw a lot of families.
Cafe Promenade (Deck 5)
For those who want only a quick bite, Navigator of the Seas' Cafe Promenade is open 24 hours a day. Conveniently positioned in the Royal Promenade, this casual cafe serves complimentary coffee and snacks (not substantial enough for a meal) and is a great place to relax for a moment and soak up all the Royal Promenade action.
Hooked Seafood (Deck 4); $42.99 for adults, $10 for kids
Another great date-night option, Hooked -- the ship's dedicated seafood restaurant -- welcomes diners with a cosy, chic design that offers a nod to greasy pole (a contest that takes place every year in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and other places around the world). Menu items run the gamut from raw oysters and other shellfish specialities to fresh fish cooked any way you want it. During lunchtime, a smaller menu can be enjoyed for $19.99.
Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade (Deck 5); a la carte
Comfort foods such as wings, pork sliders and burgers are available at this sports bar during lunch and dinner hours.
The Bamboo Room (Deck 5); a la carte
Those looking for a light lunch or appetizers before dinner can munch on seafood bites such as Hawaiian pork sliders, ahi tuna poke, Tahitian coconut crab bruschetta and Asian noodle salad.
Chops Grille (Deck 11); $42.99 for adults, $10 for kids
Royal Caribbean's signature steakhouse, Chops Grille, is an enclosed venue located within the Windjammer buffet on Navigator of the Seas. It's a quiet, romantic space perfect for date nights and serves steakhouse classics (think several cuts of steak, lamb and seafood dishes) with a variety of sides from which to choose. An abbreviated menu is available for lunch and comes with a $21.99 surcharge.
Jamie's Italian (Deck 11); $39.99 for adults, $10 for kids
Italian food with an innovative twist is the best way to describe the menu at Jamie's Italian, a Royal Caribbean favourite tucked away in Navigator of the Seas' Windjammer buffet as its own space. Standout dishes include a cured meats plank, marinated eggplant Parmesan "steak," and truffle tagliatelle -- all presented in unique ways. Choose from several sides, and make sure to save room for dessert. Limited items are available at lunchtime for $19.99.
Izumi (Deck 11); a la carte
Craving Asian cuisine? Head to Izumi, the line's signature Japanese fusion restaurant, for an assortment of starters, sushi rolls, bowls and even the chance to cook your own meal on hot rocks (which also makes for a fun photo op).
Starbucks (Deck 11); a la carte
For coffee connoisseurs or those who simply want more options than what's offered in Cafe Promenade, there is a Starbucks that serves speciality coffee and other signature Starbucks drinks, as well as treats, throughout the day.
Johnny Rockets Express (Deck 12); $9.95
One of two poolside dining options, Johnny Rockets Express serves a variety of burgers and hot dogs, chicken tenders and a chilli bowl -- all of which can be paired with soft drinks, regular milkshakes or spiked "adult shakes."
Room Service; $7.95
Twenty-four-hour room service is available, and all orders, except continental breakfast or those made by passengers staying in Grand Suites or above, incur a $7.95 fee.
If we had to sum up all 1,693 cabins on Navigator of the Seas in three words, they'd be comfortable, simple and efficient. Despite being nearly 20 years old, cabins don't feel old and stuffy, thanks to routine cosmetic maintenance that keeps the furnishings and carpet fresh.
Still, a number of aspects remain outdated: Outlets (120V and 230V) are limited, and there are none bedside, nor are there any USB ports; and signs of wear are evident in areas such as the occasional squeaky balcony door and slow-to-drain sink. Nevertheless, these minor inconveniences don't make or break the experience.
What we love most about Navigator of the Seas' accommodations, however, is the variety of cost-effective categories for those who can't swing a balcony. Those on a tighter budget can select from either an inside cabin, an inside cabin with a virtual balcony, a standard ocean-view cabin or a Panoramic Ocean-View cabin with a floor-to-ceiling window.
Regardless of which cabin you're in, you can expect the following features: ample storage space, flat-screen TVs, premium mattresses, sitting areas with pull-out sofas (albeit these areas are tighter in interior cabins), vanities and stocked mini-fridges.
Interior: Navigator of the Seas' interior cabins -- including those that feature a virtual balcony -- are 150 square feet. There also are several interior cabins overlooking the Royal Promenade; these feature a small window and offer more room (160 square feet). Accessible interior cabins come in at 256 square feet.
Oceanview: Ocean-view cabins on Navigator of the Seas come in different subcategories, ranging from standard (160 square feet) and large (175 square feet) to Family Ocean Views, which boast 293 square feet. Panoramic Ocean-View cabins offer anywhere from 191 to 283 square feet. There are also accessible ocean-view cabins with 276 square feet.
Balcony: Choose from a Deluxe Balcony cabin (184 square feet with a 46-square-foot balcony) or a roomier Superior Balcony, featuring 199 square feet, plus an additional 65 square feet on the balcony. Accessible balcony cabins provide a comfortable 275 square feet, with a 42 square-foot balcony.
Junior Suite: Each Junior Suite on Navigator of the Seas offers 297 square feet. Standout features include a bathtub and a balcony that's slightly larger than the one found in the Superior Balcony cabin.
Suite: Navigator of the Seas has three suite categories. Among them are the 401-square-foot Grand Suite, which features a large closet, bar and 104-square-foot balcony; the 574-square-foot Royal Family Suite with room for eight, thanks to two bedrooms, two bathrooms (one with a tub), a large living area, plus a dining table and a 232-square foot balcony; and the 580-square-foot Owner's Suite, which boasts a separate living room with pull-out sofa, a dry bar, dinette, large living area and 157-square-foot balcony.