Honestly? Going on a cruise hasn’t really been high on my travel list. Mainly because, well, I usually tend to think of them as something older people do. Visions of retired people playing bingo on a slightly run-down ship, or cheesy shows.
Turns out, it’s a different kettle of fish (boat of cruisers?) altogether. Sure, you’ll have your nans and your grandads, but Royal Caribbean actually have tons to do for all ages – and a day aboard their Navigator of the Seas ship showed off exactly what they have to offer.
I set off eeeearly (7am is WAY EARLY for a Sunday, but it was totally worth it) towards Waterloo to meet Erica and AJ on a mission to Southampton, where the ship’s berthed (I think berthed is the right word? I know ‘parked’ probably isn’t…ha). We basically sat on the tube bemoaning South West Trains on Twitter for the buffet car not being open because a) hungry and b) coffee.
Apparently getting aboard a cruise ship is pretty serious business. We had to go through airport-style security, and despite not actually going anywhere we needed our passports. I reckon they just wanted a laugh at our passport photos. But no, seriously, it actually didn’t take long to get aboard at all, before we knew it we were making our way onto the Navigator of the Seas.
(Definitely not the ‘Flight of the Navigator’, as we kept accidentally calling it…)
Remember what I said up there about my perceptions of run-down ships? SO WRONG. For a start, the Navigator of the Seas is basically a small town, on a ship, on the ocean. There’s a ‘high street’ with a pub, shops, and even a Starbucks. Which was much appreciated by AJ, who’d done a sprint to catch the Southampton train and hadn’t even had her coffee that morning. What a trooper.
Everything was shiny and fabulous and beautifully decorated, even the main stairwell at the entrance looked like some kind of Vegas parlour (with way more class though).
We began our tour by hopping aboard the lift to one of the higher decks to take a peek at the leisure amenities on offer. A super cool thing we noticed; each elevator has a map with the day of the week on, which gets changed over at midnight every day. You know how when you’re on holiday you forget what day it is? Won’t happen on Navigator of the Seas, clearly.
On the top deck of the ship, we found ourselves in the pool area. A little imagination was required on an overcast, pretty dull day, but it wasn’t hard to picture the sun beating down while I took a dip with the ocean on all sides. And how lovely does the jacuzzi look? In fact…there were two of them. Double the bubbly fun.
Who doesn’t love a spot of mini golf? Unfortunately we didn’t get to play ourselves, but how cool anyway, right? It looked like a really good course, although I wonder how many balls make their way into the sea every journey…
Oh, and the ship has a full on 30ft high climbing wall.
Yep. Just casually going for a climb in the middle of the sea, as you do. It’s definitely a great ship for sports lovers – alongside the climbing wall there’s basketball and tennis courts, and a well-equipped gym below deck. So if you’re off on a cruise, you can still keep up your fitness routine.
A most epic thing in the exercise area, you can catch a wave with their surf simulator machine that pumps an epic 34,000 gallons a minute, so passengers can have a go at surfing or boogie boarding. There were actually some fitness bloggers and vloggers having a go at it while we were there – definitely doing a better job that I would…
The next part of our on-board adventure was having a nosy around the rooms. They vary inside, from the smallest, inside-facing rooms to the huge-ass suites. The interior rooms actually have screens in them which project a real-time view from the outside of the ship – so even if you’ve got no window, it feels like you do.
As the suites got bigger, they definitely got fancier. The balcony rooms are definitely my kinda vibe – just imagine chilling with some prosecco, looking out at nothing but blue as far as the eye can see. Bliss. The largest suite we saw had a GRAND PIANO in it. Yep. In case you fancy a tinkle of the ivories when you’re relaxing on your gigantic bed. Drinking champagne, cause this suite’s way too posh for your basic fizz. Someone give me loads of cash so I can stay in it, please?
Each week, the ship’s kitchens get through 20000 rashers of bacon, 4500lbs of cheese, 42000 bread rolls and 350lbs of avocados. Among many other things. Yeahhh, that’s a lot of food. There are nine restaurants on-board, including a massive buffet hall with all kinds of food. The chef team like to switch up what’s served throughout the trip to make sure passengers have a good variety of choice for every meal.
We got to take a peek inside the kitchens on a tour by Executive Chef Russell, and believe me, cooking aboard the Navigator of the Seas is a military operation. There are 132 fridges, for a start. Chefs work all day long preparing the meals, with sections for everything from huge soup pots (so big I could fit inside one, although probably not a good idea with the hot soup in there) to mashed potato (which was delicious, BTW).
One of the on-board restaurants is Izumi, which serves up sushi and Japanese cuisine. You can read more about my Izumi experience here!
And for somewhere a bit grand to chow down, the dining room on Navigator of the Seas is SO epic. There are three levels of tables, the top being the most ‘fancy’, and the bottom housing the captain’s table in the centre.
As it was totally what I imagined after thinking all about Titanic, I did my very best Kate Winslet impression when descending the curved staircase. Unfortunately, there was no Leo waiting for me at the bottom. Ah well.
Spending the day on board Navigator of the Seas has definitely turned me on to the idea of a cruise. There’s loads to see, do and eat on board, as well as regular landings and excursions along the ship’s route. And I definitely want to get a slice of that. Preferably somewhere warmer than Southampton though…
*I was a guest on board the Navigator of the Seas with Royal Caribbean