Navigator of the Seas - 3 Night Cork Short Cruise
April 2007 began the third season for Royal Caribbean International cruising out of Southampton.  Previously it had been Legend of the Seas but in 2006 they announced it would be the much larger Navigator of the Seas.  Having missed out on Legend I was determined to try Navigator and the Royal Caribbean experience.  Originally my friend Rowan was going to go with me until finding out Aurora three months later went to two ports instead of one so opted for that instead.  I booked in June for the three-night Cork Short Cruise for the 2nd June 2007 even though I was more interesed in the ship than itinerary. Having to pay double isn't too bad on short trips and worked out roughly the same as the QE2 to share for the same length.  I went for Oceanview Stateroom H-3256 on Deck 3 but less than 71 hours before sailing I received an upgrade notification email.  I was now E1-8624 Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with balcony on Deck 8.  How exciting and on my first Royal Caribbean cruise as well!  A couple of weeks before the cruise I had been told by someone who did the two-nighter in April she tilts when turning and the food wasn't that great.  I was soon going to find out.

The weather during the week leading up to the cruise hadn't been the greatest for spring.  Gales, wind, rain and sun.  It changed from day to day and the last thing I wanted was to juggle the camera, video and umbrella so hoped it would be dry and the forecast wrong.  The itinerary listed us sailing at 4pm.  I had been told if there was anything in Mayflower Terminal,
Navigator would have to go once that has because she can't get past to the turning circle.  Would we go first?  I contacted the UK office with my fears as it's no fun getting ready for dinner (if you choose the restaurant as I do) when you're still in the docks but she assured me it would be that time as they hadn't been told different so it was fingers crossed.  Two days before, Southampton VTS put up the movements for the 2nd and Navigator was down for 5pm as I'd thought, the same time as Sea Princess who was in Mayflower Terminal.  I emailed the UK office again giving them the link.  I don't know if they complained but on the 1st June it was changed to 4pm.  Hooray!  Didn't mean anything though until we actually buggered off first.  It really would be so much simpler if they docked port on arrival.  At this rate Independence of the Seas will be the first ship to go last on a maiden voyage!

The big day arrived and I didn't sleep too badly for once.  I got the usual Hythe ferry across.  It was just a wonderfully hot day making a ferry trip lovely.  And there were the girls in their respective docks -
Navigator of the Seas in City Terminal and Sea Princess in Mayflower.  They seemed to be testing the lifeboats on Sea Princess.    
Due to the M27 being closed after a woman's body had been found causing tailbacks, my taxi driver took me another route but thankfully it was the same price.  As it had been too late to send new luggage tags, I had written my new cabin number on as instructed and told the porter when I handed it over then headed for the entrance.
Check-in was quite busy for just after noon but there was a Sea Pass desk available.  Being a cruise in EU waters there was no duty free which hacked off a lot of people considering you can go to any EU country and bring back as much as you wish for personal use.  The woman went to get my key/pass then realised it was for my previous cabin so went to get the correct one.  There was no waiting around in the departure lounge.  You could go straight on.
I was so glad they were using the new gangway.  Up the escalator and along until you boarded the ship aft on the Promenade Deck (Deck 4).
With cabins being unavailable it was up for lunch at the Windjammer on Deck 11.  Walking to it gave you a chance to see some of outside deck.
After lunch in Jade, which is next to Windjammer and also did a buffet of salad, burgers and hot dogs, I decided to do a bit of exploring as I made my way to the cabin.  First stop was the Portofino which requires booking and has a surcharge and is found next to Jade.  The waitress setting up was excited when I mentioned doing Vision of the Seas next year.  She worked on her and said she misses her ship.
The cabin was larger than on Constellation but the balcony floor rough under foot.  It's amazing how two different companies under the same ownership can be so different in small ways.  Although there was an ice bucket, there was no jug of water.  Also contrary to popular information on the Royal Caribbean site there WAS a round 2-pin European socket at 230 volts hidden behind the ice bucket.  If you look up the FAQ's and in the brochure it says American 110 volts.  The bathroom was slightly larger but the shower cubicle small.  My stateroom attendant Nicoleta Constanda never introduced herself.  I learnt during the cruise this was common and only a few people actually knew theirs.  Once I'd settled in I went for another explore and noticed what turned out to be Nicoleta delivering cases to the cabins.
Lifeboat drill was at 3.30pm.  The diagram on the back of the door was completely rubbish.  Very good for umpteen languages but useless for telling you how to put it on, or that you already had to be wearing it as you went down.  The life jacket was different to those on the QE2 and Constellation with a cowl neck you also had velcro strips on.  Very difficult getting it on and off when you have to manage to keep that open as well to prevent strangling yourself.  There was no muster station.  You had to go directly to your lifeboat.  It was very stifling standing there like a load of cattle and one woman behind me suffered claustrophobia and wished they'd hurry up. I know what she meant.  I was getting a bit light-headed myself and was glad when it was over and fresh air abounded!  After dumping the jacket in the cabin, I went to Deck 12 by the mast for the 4pm sailaway.  Gordon the cruise director came on just after 4pm to say we would be leaving in five or six minutes.  Excellent!
As usual things never go to plan.  At about 4.25pm we were finally moving away from the dock and headed for the turning circle and past Sea Princess.  It was noted by some of my fellow passengers there was no one on deck.  Of course there wouldn't be - lifeboat drill!  Though there was the odd person on deck and on their balconies.  Naughty people!  Some of the crew waved a giant hand at us which got a huge laugh.
The above shot is the former King George V dry dock, where the great liners of the past had refits.  Such a shame it's disused for that purpose now.  After we straightened and began to head out the way we came, Navigator's horn blasted three times.  As it was on the mast, it didn't half make me jump!  It's a cross between throaty and farty but very loud.  Not long after that we heard Sea Princess blast about six times.  She'd be right up our backside.  It really was turning out to be a good day.  Once we passed Hythe I made my way to the stern to get shots of Sea Princess stalking us.  Even though it was gone 5pm and my card said dinner at 6.15pm, they were incredibly flexible with their set sitting times.  Today was 6.30pm and casual so I decided not to bother changing.
Dinner was fun.  I was assigned to a table for eight.  There was one couple whose first cruise it was and who also had left their children the longest time and missed them.  The rest were part of a wedding party.  They had come over from Co. Mayo for an 11.30am wedding in Southampton and the happy couple paid for all their guests to go on the trip.  They thought the ship going to Ireland was funny.  Our waiter Igor was from the Ukraine and assistant waiter Fnu from Indonesia.  They were both wonderful with an excellent sense of humour.  After a very filling and delicious dinner I went for a wander to burn some calories after collecting my boarding photo.
One of the things I love about this class of ship is the wrap around deck.  There aren't too many about now, especially as certain companies use the same designs across the brands.  But this was excellent. It had got a bit chilly now and breezy so I didn't brave more than the sides and stern.  The sun was setting and Sea Princess was still with us, albeit difficult to see in the haze.
I missed the first night show but was determined to see the Mardi Gras in the Royal Promenade at 11pm.  I wish they'd said how long it would last but didn't give an end time so I put a new tape in the video. In the end it only lasted fifteen minutes so could have used the other one after all!  Things like this are where selfish people come into their own.  A couple of women who had been drinking knew there were those at the front like me and just barged in anyway.  It was very enjoyable despite that and even the dancers seemed to be enjoying it.


© Patricia Dempsey 2nd-5th June 2007
Not to be reproduced without permission