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Caribbean Princess vs. Navigator of the Seas


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Hi fellow cruisers,


Does anyone have feedback about which ship is best for the same itinerary out of Texas in March? We have sailed both RCI and Princess. For this itinerary in mid-March, NOS is a few hundred less but I really love Princess. There will be four of us: Husband, Me, Grammy and 10 year old son. Son says that there is more to do on NOS. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


Thank you!

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Hi fellow cruisers,


Does anyone have feedback about which ship is best for the same itinerary out of Texas in March? We have sailed both RCI and Princess. For this itinerary in mid-March, NOS is a few hundred less but I really love Princess. There will be four of us: Husband, Me, Grammy and 10 year old son. Son says that there is more to do on NOS. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


Thank you!


As a major Princess cruiser I'm going to agree with your son. RC does have more to do for your 10 year old. I have also been on Navigator twice and truly love that ship.

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NOS (and others in that class) to us is the closest that RCCL comes to a Princess experience.


NOS will have rock climbing, ice skating, a bigger arcade area and I think they are replacing the minature golf area with a flowrider.


RCCL still has evening shows that are close to an hour in length.


Following are excerpts from a report I wrote about NOS a couple of years ago, but I am sure some of the things have changed since then.


Comments about cabins are for inside/outside and balcony cabins, not mini-suites and higher.


Cabins may not be ready when you embark. An announcement is made when they are available. This was by about 1:00 PM. Reason is that you do not have to leave your cabin on disembarkation day until you need to leave the ship which is by 10 AM.

The ship

The ship is listed as holding 3114 passengers, is 1020 feet in length, and the maximum beam is 157.5 feet.

Decks only have numbers, not names. If your cabin number is 7xxx, then you are on deck 7.

Cabin numbers are sequential down one side and then up the other. For example, 6000-6498 may be on the starboard side and 6500-6898 on the port side. In each hallway, even numbers are on the outside and odd numbers are on the inside.

There is a promenade inside on deck 5. Many of the inside cabins have windows facing this promenade. All shops (other than the photo gallery), some bars, and some food service are along this promenade. The shore excursion desk and the purser’s desk is also located there. There is an ATM machine near the purser’s desk.

The promenade is the site of various activities such as the Captain’s welcome speech, the cooking demonstration and staff parades.


Passengers’ names are not posted outside any cabin.

All cabins are non-smoking. Smoking is permitted on all cabin balconies. If smoking is detected in a cabin, a charge of $250 will be assessed. (Smoking is also permitted on open decks on the starboard side, in the casino on most nights, and in about one-third of the bar areas.)

Every cabin has a couch in it.

There is a curtain that can be pulled across the room to separate the sleeping area from the couch area.

The cabin TV is a standard tube type. Interactively, you can look at your stateroom account, book shore excursions, and order dinner (with dining room menu items) in your cabin from room service. A pay-per-view movie channel is also available.

The only American news channel available was Fox. CNN international was available. There was a CBS channel, but it was repeats of past programs (from “60 Minutes” to “The New Adventures of Old Christine”), not current on-the-air programming.

The electrical outlets at the desk were two 120V and one 230V. The 230V outlet was the type to accept two pins (mainland Europe and the Middle East type plugs).

On a balcony, there are doors which can be unlocked to access an adjoining balcony.

The room safe uses a four digit code that the passenger chooses. Once set up, the code is needed to open the safe, but the safe can be locked by just pressing the “close” button.

There was a dial at the desk for turning off or on the in the room non-emergency announcements such as the times for activities, ship’s clearance in a port, Captain’s daily update, etc. At least in our cabin the switch did not work to allow these announcements to be heard. The purser’s desk told me that there was no TV channel on which these announcements could be heard.

Bathroom amenities include only soap bars and a shampoo dispenser in the shower. I was told that until recently there were other amenities such as lotion.

When the light in the bathroom is turned off, there is no power to the plug for shavers (important for those who like to put a night light in the bathroom.)

The shower has two curved plastic doors instead of a shower curtain.

The shower head is at the end of a removable hose.

There is no laundry room or iron and ironing board for passengers to use. Typical laundry pricing:

Pants: $4 wash and press; $2.00 press only; $4.50 dry clean and press

Shirt: $3.50 wash and press; $1.75 press only; $4.00 dry clean and press

Above pricing is for next day service. Same day service (in by 9 AM) is 50% higher.

Once during the cruise there was a “wash and fold” laundry special (pressing not included). Fill the supplied bag and have laundered for $25.

Future cruise sales and loyalty program

The RCCL equivalent of a Future Cruise Credit is non-refundable if not used. There is not any time limit on using it. OBC is based solely on length of cruise (3-5 nights $50, 6-9 nights $100, 10-13 nights $200, 14+ nights $300) and is not combinable with shareholder OBC.

The loyalty program representative on board cannot resolve an incorrect cruise history. This can only be done by the passenger contacting RCCL directly.

Those at the minimum loyalty level (1-4 past RCCL cruises) receive a coupon book in the room. Some coupons I found useful ($5 of free 55 cents/minute Internet use; two for one milkshakes at Johnny Rockets, a free pull on a dedicated slot machine in the casino). Most are virtually useless ($75 bidding credit at the art auction of any work greater than $1000; purchase any bottle of wine and receive 10% off a second bottle of wine priced over $50).


There are two family pools very near each other. There is also an adults only pool (the Solarium).

Towels for use at the pools or on a shore excursion are not in the stateroom. They are checked out and returned at the pool area after presenting the room cruise card. If a towel is not returned, there is a $20 charge made to the room account.

Food and Beverage

There are three dining rooms (actually one three level dining room with a separate name and entrance at each level). Two of the dining rooms are for traditional fixed seating. The third has both traditional fixed seating and anytime (“My Time”) dining.

Reservations for the anytime dining may be made for each night or for the entire cruise.

For those with children aged 3-11 in the kids’ program, there can be expedited 45 minute service for the children at the early traditional seating so they can then go to the kids’ program while the parents can continue dining at the normal pace.

At dinner there is ice cream, sugar-free ice cream and sherbet available every evening. Only one flavor of each is available each evening. Ice cream flavors over the voyage included chocolate, coffee, butter almond, and pistachio. The ice cream is not prepared on board.

There is no bread basket on the table. At the start and once later in the meal (and, of course, upon your request), the assistant waiter brings a basket of bread and rolls you can select from.

On a night in the middle of the cruise, many of the waitstaff paraded and then gathered to sing O' Sole Mio. On the last evening the same parade was followed by a “thank you for sailing with us” song.

Almost every time, the waitstaff would take the meal orders first from the women and then from the men. When the food was served, the women were almost always served first.

Near the end of the cruise, the usual appeal was made by the waiter for a favorable rating on the passenger survey form.

A dining room is open for lunch only on sea days. It is not open upon embarkation.

There is a surcharge for the specialty Italian ($20) and steak ($25) restaurants.

There is no “Chef’s Table.”

There is no traditional Afternoon Tea.

Hot chocolate is available at no charge in the dining rooms at every meal.

The buffet area has two sides with identical foods on each side. It does not feel crowded in the food service area as it is in cafeteria style with all the stations in a single row. At the rear is an island which has milk and yogurt at breakfast and desserts at other meals. Milk is served in small cartons.

No trays are available at the buffet. No plate is larger than the typical dinner plate in the dining room.

There is a self-service low fat yogurt softserve machine on each side of the buffet (and another one in the pool area).

The buffet has at least four manned drink stations where staff has prepared juice (at breakfast), lemonade and water as well as serving coffee (brewed Seattle’s Best) and tea upon request. Fresh squeezed orange juice is available for $3.95 + 15% tip.

There is enforced use of hand sanitizers at the entrance to the buffet area.

The equivalent of the International Café is located on the deck 5 promenade. It is open 24 hours a day and is the only food venue other than room service which is available 24 hours. There is a beverage area there which has no charge Seattle’s Best brewed coffee as well as tea bags and hot chocolate pouches along with the needed hot water. Fresh squeezed orange juice is available for $3.95 + 15% tip.

There is also (for a charge) a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream counter located on the deck 5 promenade.

There is a Johnny Rockets restaurant on an upper deck serving hamburgers, etc. For food there is a $4.95 per person cover change and no additional cost for the food. All beverages (other than tap water) have normal current bar costs with them. Milkshakes ($4.50 + 15% tip) may be had without paying a cover charge.


The cost of using the Internet is 55 cents/minute with packages available to lower the per minute cost. There is no additional one-time sign up fee. Speed is equivalent to that on Princess.

Internet time packages available:

$28 for 59 minutes (47 cents/minute)

$38 for 90 minutes (42 cents/minute)

$55 for 148 minutes (37 cents/minute)

There is wireless Internet, but, for I do not know for what reason, my netbook knew it was there, but could not connect.

Photo gallery

All pictures taken are printed and displayed in the photo gallery.

Cost of formal pictures is $19.95. Cost of pictures taken as you leave the ship in a port is $9.95.

Cost of the video of the cruise is $29.95 (“only two hundred available”).

There is a machine at which you can swipe your cruise card and then see pictures that are of you. I suspect it works with some sort of facial recognition using the image taken for the cruise card when initially boarding the ship. When I tried it, the results were mixed.

Shore excursions

Shore excursions could be purchased before the cruise (pay when selecting them), via interactive TV in the cabins, or in person at the shore excursions desk.

Few if any excursions were fully booked before the voyage. Some excursions were cancelled for lack of participants.

When meeting for shore excursions onboard, passengers went to the main theater and sat anywhere they wanted, not by the excursion they were taking. Tour stickers were not given to passengers as they entered the theater. When a tour was announced, passengers for that tour would get up and go to the theater entrance to be led to the disembarkation area.

When tendering ashore when not on a shore excursion, tender tickets were needed until demand was low. However, only one person from a group had to go to the designated place to pick up the tickets for that group of people.

Activities and Entertainment

The ship had two production shows during our cruise out of the three that the ship entertainers can perform. We were told that the average life of a production show is five years, but two of the three shows on this ship have been there since the ship was launched in December 2002. The third show has been on the ship for about two years. I was told that the shows are usually only duplicated on a few of the RCCL ships.

The production shows are similar in style and energy to those on Princess.

The usual assortment of other performers (comedians, magician, but no hypnotist) also performed.

Production shows and other performers in the main theater were scheduled two times on one night. However, the Welcome Aboard show was scheduled only one time.

One night there was a midnight “adult” comedy show.

The main theater had cup holders build into the arm rests. No school type desktop to pull out.

On the last evening, several of the show band members along with the four principal production show singers, gave a jazz concert in one of the lounges.

The “backstage tour” on the last sea day started with fifteen minutes of Q&A with the show supervisor, a dancer, a singer, the sound technician, the lighting technician, and several others. This was followed by a tour of the cast backstage dressing area as well as explanations of their work by the sound technician at his sound control board and by the lighting technician in the lighting control room.

The ship has an ice skating rink with an ice skating show (pretty decent one) that is repeated several times throughout the cruise. At times there are skating sessions for passengers.

There is a movie theater on deck two. I estimate less than 200 seats.

There was a fruit and vegetable carving demonstration together with a cooking demonstration on the deck 5 promenade. This was a poor location as only a few of the people standing there had a good view of the activity.

There was an ice carving demonstration on the last sea day. The passengers selected what object should be carved for a list of four items.

There were also napkin folding and towel animal demonstrations (with audience participation).


Early walkoff with luggage was available. Those in this category were able to leave the ship at about 6:45 AM.

EZCheck (called “Luggage Valet)” was available for participating airlines at MIA and FLL. The cost was $20 per person plus the airline’s normal baggage charges. Boarding passes were also provided if this service was used.

On the last evening, luggage was to be paced outside the cabins from 7 PM to 11 PM. However, none of it was picked up from the hallways until 11 PM.

On disembarkation day, there was a semi-silent procedure. Passengers reported to an assigned location by a time based on luggage tag color. It would then be announced in that location when a particular color could disembark. There were also at least two shipwide announcements about all the colors that already could have left the ship.

You could stay in your cabin until it was time to report to the location assigned for your luggage tag color.


The muster drill required everyone to be outside at the lifeboat station assigned to you and listed on the cruise card. There was no need to bring the life vest to the muster. Use of the vest was demonstrated by a crew member at each lifeboat. No mention was made of what needed to be done if it became necessary to walk/jump into the water. Everyone lined up in rows on the deck with their backs to the wall. Most people could not see over/through the people in front of them to actually see the demonstration by the crew member putting on the vest. Before the demo they did a roll call with everyone's name that was assigned to that lifeboat. They made note of all passengers who were not there, but I do not know what they did with that list.

On this voyage there was one formal night, one smart casual night, and the rest were casual nights. Formal has the same definition as on Princess. On formal night, I noticed nobody wearing a tuxedo (but there may have been some I did not see). I did see two US Army officers in full dress uniform.

RCCL’s definition for smart casual includes wearing a jacket (no tie). I noticed nobody wearing a jacket that evening.

There is a daily newsletter similar to the Princess Patter. The activity section for the newsletter is enlarged and posted prominently several places on the ship (for example, at the entrance to the buffet). There was no Cruise Log at the end of the cruise.

Many of the printed materials (daily newsletters, library trivia games, disembarkation information, laundry lists, etc.) are available in several languages: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian and German. The in cabin TV had movie channels available in these same six languages. General announcements were mostly in English, but some were then repeated in Spanish.

Those under the age of 18 have a 1 AM curfew unless participating in a kids’ club activity or with a parent.

Baby sitting for children at least one year old was available in cabins on a limited basis. Cost was $10/hour for one or two children and $15/hour for three or more children. Group sitting was available in the kid’s club area in the evenings for the younger children in the program at a cost of $5/hour

As on Princess, there is one ding to announce an elevator going up and two dings for one going down. There are four sets of four elevators and, except for very busy times, an elevator would arrive soon after being requested. Elevators would travel at a rate of about one deck every three seconds.

On the deck above the bridge, there is a viewing area where you can watch bridge activities looking from the rear of the bridge.

The ship’s time was not changed for the two ports that were in a one hour earlier time zone. The ship’s daily newsletter from December did show that ship time was changed on this itinerary.

The charity walk was for the Make-A-Wish Foundation (to provide cruises on RCCL) . It was a one mile walk on the jogging track. Donation amount was $10 and included a tee-shirt.

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