HI! Oh my gosh, I’ve been gone so much this month, it feels SO GOOD to be back home. I was gone one full week for Disney World, and another nearly full week for this cruise — so two weeks I’ve been gone from home & work. I can’t wait to settle back into my routine!
I’m so excited about this blog today because it’s something a little different for me! I’m so used to being in my Disney bubble that I never really talk about anything else. But, fun thing: I book way more than Disney, I just never talk about it. Like I said, Disney is my comfort zone - it’s what I know, it’s what I love, so I stick to it and don’t advertise that I’m a legit travel agent that can book far beyond the gates of Disney.
An opportunity recently fell into my lap and I was invited to a Seminar at Sea with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. This came at a PERFECT time as my parents and their friends were just about to sail on a Royal Caribbean cruise (the week before mine!) and my boss is about to sail over an upcoming holiday - so this was the perfect time to get some hands on learning since I’m starting to book it more often - and hopefully, in the future, I’ll be booking it more than just my family and my boss. ;)
So, first and foremost - Thank you SO MUCH to Royal Caribbean for inviting me and planning SUCH an amazing week for us. Second, thank you to Travel with the Magic for trusting me to represent our company. Let’s get this review (review? story time? work brag?) started!
Oh man, I’m going to make so many Disney Cruise die-hards so mad, probably.
The Ship & Cruise Itinerary
It’s a ship. Not a boat. ;) I was on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas on the 5 day Bahamian itinerary with stops at Nassau, Bahamas & Perfect Day at Coco Cay (RC’s private island), as well as a sea day, departing from Miami, FL. I was glad to try a 4 night cruise, because on the 3 night Disney cruise I did last year, it felt short… but the 4 night was a little too long for me? I think if I was with Casey, 4 nights would be great, though. Not sure I could do any longer lengths. The ship felt about the same size as the Disney Dream, but seemed like SO MUCH MORE was packed into the ship than the Dream.
Navigator of the Seas was recently “Royally Amplified” earlier this year, which is a new program they are committing to - updating 10 ships in 4 years. This is a MASSIVE project and based on what I’ve heard, was super necessary on some of these older ships. I’ll get into the details of each sections, and what was “amplified” in a bit. But, everything felt clean, trendy and just all around NICE.
I was in a Category D3, Spacious Ocean View Balcony Cabin, specifically room #6370 on deck 6. It was a great location, in terms of convenience to everything - I was one deck away from the Royal Promenade (which is where a lot of the fun happens!), and the pool deck(s), where a quick elevator ride away. It was also very quiet, given that I was so close to the Promenade. There were a couple of times that I could hear my neighbors, but only when they were out on their balcony. In terms of movement - we were *very* blessed with calm waters and only on the first night did I feel much movement. I think this was really just me getting used to it, though, more than anything else. Even on our sea day (moving at full speed a couple of times), I didn’t have issues with movement.
The rooms felt like they could use a bit of a design update, in terms of artwork, curtains, maybe some cute throw pillows on the couch (?! Maybe I’m asking too much LOL), but it was a very comfortable room. If you’ve ever been on a cruise, and your cabin felt very “cruise-like”… same for this room. Nothing special, but was clean and comfortable.
Okay, so here’s the bad news - I never experienced the main dining room. I KNOW, I know. I should’ve sucked it up and tried it at least once, but I didn’t. I have an incredibly weak stomach when I get anxious, so sitting for dinner made me freak out a little. However, I did order room service twice as well as visit the Windjammer (the complimentary buffet) a bunch.
First, room service — room service is technically “free”, but they do charge you a $7.95 service fee and 18% gratuity. That said, I ordered a whole pizza & chicken tenders/fries, and it was only $9. So - not the worst use of $9 when I didn’t feel like leaving my room to get dinner. The chicken tenders were not great, but the fries and pizza were so good I ordered it another night, ha!
Windjammer - LOVED IT. They had a great selection and everything was so tasty! The transition from breakfast to lunch/dinner is pretty seamless, they just section off one side of the buffet while they transition so you can’t enter from that side, and then open it all back up when it’s fully operational during the dining period.
They do have a bunch of specialty dining - none of which I did this visit, but will definitely do in the future. My pal Tonya and her husband did Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, which was an additional $35/person, but judging by the photos she sent me, it looks to be WELL worth the added cost. Pre-sailing, they offer a bunch of discounts on the specialty dining, as well as dining packages so you can bundle and save on multiple specialty restaurants.
Lounges & Beverage Packages
One thing that, pre sailing, I was not a fan of was the idea of “needing” a beverage package. I am a soda drinker in a bad way - like, wake up, drink a coke first thing kind of soda drinker. Before sailing in your cruise planner, you can buy a beverage package & often, it’ll go on sale. I had the Classic Soda beverage package in my cart for SO LONG and then forgot to purchase it & was subjected to purchasing it while on board, which raised the price- don’t make my mistake. That said, it ended up totaling $47 for the 5 days for me to do the soda package and man, it was worth it. They give you a cup that has a chip in it, and you can go to any of the Coke Freestyle machines around the ship and fill up your cup as often as you want throughout your stay. They also tag your SeaPass card with a sticker that denotes which beverage package you have so you can get a soda that way, if you don’t have your cup with you.
Other beverage packages include the Refreshment Package, which includes smoothies, specialty coffees, bottled water, sodas, etc. and the Deluxe Beverage Package which includes the same as the other packages, as well as alcohol. I think if I were to go on another cruise with Casey and it was more of a vacation than work trip, I would go for the Deluxe package. It’s pricey, but it does have pre-cruise sale prices, too.
The lounges on board are SO great. I went to 4 of them (lol) — Playmakers - a sports bar/arcarde, Bamboo Room - a tiki bar with tropical, fruity drinks, Schooners - a run of the mill bar, it was only okay, but located right outside of the Casino, if that’s any interest to you on your sailing, and Copper & Clover - an English style pub featuring tons of scotch and whiskey. My favorite aesthetically was probably Bamboo Room, for obvious reasons, but Playmakers was a really fun place to just hang out, especially when a game was on.
The one I didn’t get to enjoy (mostly because I just didn’t drink too much on this trip), was The Lime & Coconut, which was the Deck 11 pool bar - it was SO adorable, and featured a frozen rose’ machine! Next time, I’ll *definitely* make time for it.
Deck 11 is where everything was mainly located, pool-wise. There was the main pool & the solarium/adult pool. I never had a difficult time finding a lounger to sit in, even on sea day when EVERYONE is on board the ship. I think this just speaks to the sheer volume of activities they have going on throughout the day - there’s so much to do and see that it spreads everyone out a bit and doesn’t make the ship feel crowded with people.
There’s also a fantastic slide (reminded me of the AquaDuck on the Dream - it goes out over the edge of the ship!), a rock climbing wall, basketball court & the FlowRider (a surf simulator). Seriously - so much recreational activities to keep everyone active and happy.
So, we didn’t so much have “themed” nights, but on the first night, they did have a 70’s dance party and on the last night, an 80s dance party. I missed the 70’s party (lol, I was fast asleep before it even started!), but I did make it to the 80’s party and it was SO cute. 80’s music, dancing and even an appearance by PacMan ;)
I also made it to the tail end of the Hush Dance Party, which is where everyone is given headphones with two music channels (and DJs controlling them on a stage!), and you have the choice of what music you’re listening to - so everyone on the dance floor isn’t all listening to the same music - it was SO fun & hilarious to watch!
On the pool deck, I caught a bit of Aladdin playing on the big movie screen - again, so easy to find a chair, even though it was movie time on the ship. They played a handful of movies, a couple of family friendly movies & then a couple of more adult, thriller/action movies late in the evenings.
I didn’t go to any shows, but trusted Tonya’s reports on the shows. She went to an ice skating show (which also doubles as open ice-skating as an onboard activity, as well as laser tag arena on other days), and she said it was great, but that some of the other shows were silly, borderline stupid. Shows aren’t really my thing, so I’m not too bummed that I missed any of them - even on the Disney cruise, I only went to a show on one of the 3 nights! HOWEVER, I did learn that on the Oasis Class ships (those are the huge ones you see in all the Royal Caribbean commercials), they have actual contracts with Broadway shows and they do the full length show with intermission and everything - now THAT is something I’m interested in!
Onto the main event —
Perfect Day at CocoCay
What. A. Perfect. Day. Coco Cay is Royal Caribbean’s private island - it’s been there for a while, but recently underwent a MASSIVE $250 million upgrade to include not only the island/beach experience, but also pools, zip lining and a water park. Seriously - it was amazing. Comparing to Disney’s Castaway Cay, this beats Castaway EVERY DANG TIME. Not only was it so fun, but it was beautiful, well kept and again with the chairs — plenty of seating!
It was totally family friendly, though the swim up bar on one of the pools did get a little rowdy at a few points in the day - but nothing totally inappropriate. The other ends of the pool were a lot more quiet and calm. The beach areas had cabanas to rent, which is nice if you want a nice place to relax throughout your day, and I noticed, they don’t sell out the way Disney’s does - probably because there’s *plenty* of them!
The Thrill Water Park looked so neat - though I didn’t go in because I’m not a big water park person. Though, I can tell you, the water park features 21 slides, including Dare Devil’s Peak, which is currently the tallest water slide in North America, and the zip line is 1600 feet! Both the zip line & the water park cost extra, but from what I heard, they’re pretty well worth the added cost.
The only thing missing, in my opinion was an adult beach - if they had that, it would be absolutely perfect. But, at 100 acres, there’s plenty of space and a lot of quiet areas regardless of an adult area.
Another thing to note, when we were at Coco Cay, there was another Royal Caribbean ship docked. While this is pretty off-putting at first (especially for Disney Cruise fans, who are used to having Castaway all to their one ship!), I did learn that the upgrades made to Coco Cay are enough to accommodate 2 Oasis Class ships, or 9000 guests. However, even with the 2 ships docked, we were probably in the vicinity of 5,000, maybe 6,000 on the island, and it didn’t feel packed *at all*.
I loved it. I would classify myself as “not a cruiser” and I REALLY enjoyed it. Comparing to Disney, I much preferred the Royal Caribbean sailing. Don’t get me wrong - Disney offers so much for everyone, especially fans of Disney (which, um, hello, that’s me), but as an adult without kids, who has interests outside of Disney - this was absolutely perfect & I wouldn’t hesitate to go on another Royal Caribbean sailing.
I think I’ve hit all the major points I wanted to talk about, but if you have any questions at all, please ask! I have another blogged planned about anxiety + cruising, because ooh boy, it’s a doozy, and I’ve come up with some tips on how to handle that. Stay tuned!
So, with all that said, I can book a Royal Caribbean sailing for you, too! I’m so excited to share in all that I’ve learned & experienced, so if you are interested in going, just holler at me — you know how to reach me!
Until next time!