My Hurricane Cruise Story


I’m on Royal Caribbean’s
Navigator Of The Seas this week.. And this was supposed to be a 3-day cruise
to the Bahamas over Labor Day weekend… But it’s turned in to a 5-day Western Caribbean cruise
at a 3-day price… Thanks to Hurricane Dorian. For our 49th cruise
I had wanted to experience the fun new waterslides
at Royal Caribbean’s private island, Coco Cay… But we just weren’t able to get there
with Hurricane Dorian heading
straight for the Bahamas. So, the ship headed west to Mexico
and we visited Costa Maya and Cozumel instead. The night before the cruise
we stayed at the Holiday Inn near the Port Of Miami,
one of our favorite Miami hotels… Because it’s just about the closest hotel
to the Port Of Miami… And it’s also right across the street from
the Bayside Marketplace… Where you’ll find lots of restaurants, bars,
entertainment, and shopping. Miami was experiencing
typical late-summer Florida weather:
thundershowers. So, ironically,
the worst weather we saw during our entire vacation
was days before Hurricane Dorian showed up. It was a few hours
before we were scheduled to board the ship. But after a heavy rain that morning, we got lucky! The weather cleared up just in time for embarkation. Navigator Of The Seas
was docked at terminal A in Miami. That’s a brand-new
state-of-the-art cruise ship terminal
that just opened less than a year ago. It’s really impressive to see
how they’ve sped up the embarkation process. From the time we got out of our Lyft
to the time we were walking on the ship
was probably ten minutes. If Royal Caribbean offered me $100,000
to come up with ways
to shave another minute off the process… I’m not sure I could. It was super-efficient. Every other cruise line needs
to send someone over to Terminal A… To study the state of the art
in how to get thousands of passengers
on to a cruise ship quickly. As the ship pulled away from the dock,
you can see in this time lapse video
how much the weather had improved. Here’s a real-time view out the left side… As we passed all the expensive mansions
on Palm Island and Star Island. I really like sailing out of the Port Of Miami.
It’s quick and easy, and the views are fantastic. Just before you get to open water,
you are treated to this spectacular view
of Miami’s world-famous South Beach. Navigator Of The Seas is a really interesting ship
because Royal Caribbean recently invested
115 million dollars in to renovating her! When you’re up on deck 11,
which is where the pool deck is…
it feels like a brand new ship. They totally brought the pool deck
of this 17 year old cruise ship
up to the standards of today’s newest ships. In fact, in some ways,
what they’ve done up here on deck 11 is better
than what you’ll find on a lot of brand-new ships. There are two pools here
in this mid-ship area of the pool deck… And up towards the forward end of deck 11
you’ll find an adults-only pool known as the Solarium. My wife and I are in our 60s now,
and we generally like a nice relaxing cruise… So a daybed at the adults-only Solarium pool
was our favorite hangout on Navigator Of The Seas. But if you’ve got kids,
or if you’re looking for a party… Which is a large percentage of people
who go on 3 and 4 day cruises… You’ll love the scene out at the mid-ship pool. The ship is perfect for Caribbean cruising
where it may be 80 or 90 degrees outside. The pools are not deep, for swimming… They are designed for people
to be able to stand up in
with their heads above the water. This is fantastic on a hot day in the Caribbean. Bring your drink with you, and stay cool
in the pool with your family and friends! Up on deck 12, one deck above the pools… You’ll find all sorts of little cabanas and
day beds and hammocks to lounge around in. It’s all first come, first served…
and there’s no additional charge for you to use them. The new bar concept at the pool… Which you’ll start seeing on a lot of other ships
in the Royal Caribbean fleet in the coming years… Is called The Lime and Coconut. It actually covers three levels,
and I especially liked the way
it was all lit up in the evenings… Making it a fantastic spot to hang out
and enjoy a beautiful sunset
on a warm night in the Caribbean. If you’ve got young kids,
they are going to love the little water play area
out here next to the two main pools. And notice that Royal Caribbean has lifeguards
stationed out at all the swimming pools… Even at the adults-only pool… So that if you let your guard down for a minute
during your vacation… And there’s some incident in the pool
with one of your family members… The lifeguards are there to prevent a tragedy. We are going to take a short break right now,
but don’t worry, there’s a lot more to come. I’m just getting started! When I come back,
I’ll show you another
great thing Royal Caribbean did… During their 115 million dollar renovation
of Navigator Of The Seas. I think it was the most brilliant move
I’ve seen by a cruise line… Since Carnival came up with Guy’s Burger Joint! I’ve been telling you all about
how Royal Caribbean’s 115 million dollar renovation
of Navigator Of The Seas… Has vastly improved the pool deck on deck 11,
making it one of the best I’ve seen. Next to the pool on Navigator Of The Seas
you’ll find El Loco Fresh… A casual Mexican buffet restaurant that was
a huge hit with all the people out by the pool. I’m from California. Mexican food is hugely popular here. I’ve been shaking my head for years
at how cruise lines have mostly missed
the Mexican food trend… And don’t offer anywhere near enough Mexican food. Royal Caribbean made a very smart move
with El Loco Fresh… Serving casual Mexican food, buffet style,
and at no additional charge. It’s the perfect casual lunch or snack
for all the people relaxing out on the pool deck. Another food option out by the pool
is Johnny Rockets Express. It’s a burger joint
based on 1950s diner-style restaurants. I think Royal Caribbean made a great move
by putting Johnny Rockets right next to the pool… Just like Carnival does with “Guy’s Burger Joint”, but… I also think Royal Caribbean is making a huge mistake
by charging extra for the food at Johnny Rockets. With Carnival giving away
their far better tasting burgers out by the pool… I just don’t think it’s a good move for
Royal Caribbean to charge extra for Johnny Rockets. If you’ve got kids,
the big new feature on Navigator Of The Seas
that they’re going to love is the waterslides. There are two of them. My favorite is called The Blaster. It’s a raft-type waterslide… Kind of like a much more thrilling version
of Disney’s AguaDuck raft slide. Two people can fit in the raft, or you can ride solo. Either way. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let me use
my GoPro on the waterslides… So I’m using some of Royal Caribbean’s
stock footage here to give you
an idea of how fun of a ride this really is. They did something really smart when they
designed this new raft slide for Navigator Of The Seas. Three years ago I was on Liberty Of The Seas
after they installed a new raft waterslide there… And on Liberty you have to haul the raft
up the stairs with you. That’s not that hard if you’re an adult…
but not as easy for some of the kids. Royal Caribbean must have
learned from that experience, because… Here on Navigator Of The Seas
there’s a special lifting system just for the rafts… That delivers them up to the beginning of
the ride. The other new waterslide they added during
the recent renovation uses a mat, rather than a raft. Again, they wouldn’t let me take my GoPro
on it so I have to use their stock footage here. You lie down head first on the mat. And going through a waterslide head first
really adds a level of intensity to it! They will let young kids ride it, but… Even adults seemed to really enjoy this ride,
which is known as Riptide. Here’s a little time lapse video
of our arrival in Cozumel. The weather was cloudy,
and there were bands of rain moving through the area. I thought it was kind of funny
that right as soon as we docked at the pier,
it started to rain. And I felt bad for people that had signed
up for early shore excursions, because… There was a lot of rain for an hour or two
after we docked. But the weather did eventually clear up… And by the afternoon it was sunny and warm
just like everybody wanted it to be. Royal Caribbean has their own pier at Cozumel… And right at the end of the pier
is a Margaritaville restaurant… Bubba Gump Shrimp Company Restaurant… A Senor Frogs… And several other places to eat and drink,
all within easy walking distance. I was especially impressed that Bubba Gumps
has a little area where you can swim and play
on these inflatable water toys. And this is a time lapse
of our departure from Cozumel. A short time later,
we got a nice look at the Disney Fantasy
which was leaving Cozumel at the same time. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the passengers
on the ship who is a bit of a celebrity… At least to cruise ship fanatics like me. His name is Mario, everyone calls him Super Mario… And he lives on Royal Caribbean ships full time.
Literally. He saved up enough money over his lifetime
that he can now afford to
just live on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. My friend Alanna interviewed Mario quite extensively
during a cruise a couple of months ago. If you want to find out what life is like
for Mario living on a cruise ship full time… Follow the link up at the top of the screen
to watch part of Alanna’s interview with him. The Entertainment on Navigator of The Seas
was pretty good. Not quite as great as what you get on an Oasis-class
or Quantum-class Royal Caribbean ship, but still good. This guy was really great!
His name is Joel Mason… And he was the headline entertainer one night. A super talented musician,
but also funny as heck. I really enjoyed his sense of humor, and his music. The ship has a real ice skating rink
and they have a show featuring
former Olympic-class ice skaters. That was really good. The ice skating rink converts to a big stage
for audience participation game shows on some nights. This was a battle of the sexes game show. You know, I’ve noticed that the Cruise Directors
always promote these battle of the sexes shows… By saying that the females have won
every time for the last three weeks. And then you go to the show,
and quite often… it’s a miracle! The guys somehow end up winning. It’s still funny to watch though… Even though they always tell that little lie
to create some extra drama. Like many cruise ships,
there was a Filipino cover band
on Navigator Of The Seas. Here they are playing in the Royal Promenade one night. And the ship’s big band, that normally plays
during the shows in the Royal Theater… Also put on a show one night in the Royal
Promenade, with a big horn section. I liked it! We will take another quick break now,
and when I come back… I’m going to show you
something cool about this class of ships
that’s very rare on cruise ships these days. And it has a little connection with the movie Titanic! A very nice feature of this class
of Royal Caribbean ship is
that passengers have access
to the bow of the ship. On most cruise ships,
the bow of the ship is a crew-only area. But on Navigator Of The Seas and her sister ships… You just walk out to the promenade area
on deck four, under the lifeboats… Look for this set of stairs
at the front end of the ship,
and they will lead you up to the bow. You’ve got about a 270 degree view from up here. And I wonder how many people
standing there at the bow
have re-created that famous scene from Titanic… “I’m The King Of The World!” Another cool thing I’ve always liked
about Royal Caribbean ships… Is that when you enter the elevators,
the day of the week is shown on the carpet. It’s easy to lose track when you’re on vacation. The upper deck of the ship,
with three pools and five Jacuzzis,
plus two awesome waterslides… Is the center of activity during the day. But at night, the action shifts
down to the interior of the ship,
in the Royal Promenade… Running the length of deck five. It’s laid out a lot like an indoor shopping mall,
and there are some shops here… But also a lot of bars and restaurants. The Bamboo Room is a fun new bar
that was added during the recent renovation. They have a lot of entertainment here
in the Royal Promenade in the evenings. I was a disc jockey back in the 1970s… And I love the old 70s disco music. Royal Caribbean always has a disco night
that’s a lot of fun… And I always look forward to it. The music is all copyrighted
so I can’t include it here in my video.
Sorry! You may have figured out that they
were playing “YMCA” at this point… And the crowd was totally in to it.
It was fun! And at midnight, they did a balloon drop
that everyone seemed to get a big kick out of. Anyone that went to bed early on this night
really missed out on a fun party. If you like a cruise ship with good entertainment
and plenty of things to do at night… Navigator Of The Seas is an excellent choice. That footage a minute ago
of the people dancing to YMCA… Without me being able to play YMCA
on the sound track due to copyrights… It reminds me of another fun night
on Navigator Of The Seas. They had a silent disco. Back in my glory days, in the 1970s,
there was no such thing as a silent disco. But I guess this is the way the kids do it now, right? Wireless headphones… hundreds of them. Everybody’s enjoying the music,
but if you pop those headphones off for a minute… It all seems a little silly without the music! The guy with the microphone there is Cory,
the Cruise Director on Navigator Of The Seas. I know he looks like kind of a nerd,
but he actually did OK. He’s no John Heald or Jaime Dee,
the gold standard in Cruise Directors… But he’s got a nice voice and did fine. Let’s talk about the food on Navigator Of The Seas! My wife and I are buffet people. We almost never eat in
the main dining room of a cruise ship. We eat most of our meals
in the ship’s buffet restaurant… Plus an occasional dinner in some specialty restaurant. I’m going to just run the camera past all of
the choices that were available at the dinner buffet… On Navigator Of The Seas on this particular night. It was incredible in terms of
the variety of food that they offered. I’ve been on 49 cruises, so far,
and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this many
different food choices in a cruise ship buffet. Carnival’s dinner buffet pales in comparison
to what you see here in the dinner buffet
on Navigator Of The Seas. And MSC Seaside’s dinner buffet…
oh my gosh, that was the lamest buffet I’ve EVER seen! But this one on Navigator Of The Seas…
there were so many food choices.
It was world-class. They even served complimentary ice cream
at the dinner buffet. My wife liked that a lunch time,
the buffet had a Gluten-free section, but… Oddly, it was nowhere to be found at dinner. I don’t know why. And while the dinner buffet really impressed me,
the breakfast buffet… not as much. I like a good omelet for breakfast,
but their omelet chef overcooked them a bit. And the little square hash brown potato patties… That strikes me as something you’d get at McDonalds. I was hoping for something better. I did really appreciate the helpful attitude
of the staff in the buffet. They were totally willing to help us out
with some special requests. I had them find some gluten-free bread
for my wife, and toast it… And I had them warm up a croissant for me… A room-temperature croissant just doesn’t do it for me… And they seemed happy to take care of that for me. I also really liked that the entrance to the
restaurant is lined with hand wash stations… And there’s an employee stationed there
to make sure that everyone
washes their hands before entering. The other cruise lines should definitely copy this idea. The best meal of the whole cruise
was at the Steakhouse, Chops Grill. My wife had a gigantic piece of grilled salmon…
and I had a very tasty and perfectly cooked
New York Strip Steak. So far, I’ve told you about a lot of great features
that we enjoyed on Navigator Of The Seas, but… To be honest, our cruise wasn’t completely perfect. We’re going to take one last short break,
and when I come back… I’ll tell you about the two major fails
that we witnessed during our cruise! A big new feature in the Royal Promenade
that they added during the recent renovation… And which I was really looking forward to experiencing… Was Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade. They serve casual meals here for an additional charge… And we actually ate here on two different days… Because there were two items on the menu
I was looking forward to trying: The Playmakers Burger, and the Nachos. Plus, my wife wanted to try their wings. And while I did enjoy the burger,
and especially the thick steak fries
they serve along with it… The nachos were horrible! And it was all I could do to eat about a quarter
of a serving before abandoning them. I think Royal Caribbean needs to send someone
over to one of Guy Fieri’s Pig & Anchor restaurants on Carnival… To learn how to make a much more
delicious plate of nachos. And the service at Playmakers was horrible, too. I was so surprised. I don’t normally find service this bad
on a cruise ship. Both times we came to Playmakers for a meal,
we waited for ten minutes at our table… And never had a waiter even acknowledge us. Both times, I had to flag someone down
to get some help and put in an order
for food and drinks. And on one of the visits, we sat for fifteen
minutes after we finished our meal… Before I finally couldn’t stand it any longer
and flagged down someone to find our waiter
and bring us our check. And the other thing about Playmakers
that didn’t seem right to me… Was type of televised sports
they show on all those TVs. The only channels that they offer
are the various ESPN networks. So there was tennis, soccer, cricket. If you like those… it’s great. There was some college football, but… It seemed like the wrong mix of sports to me. And besides not showing the games that people
would really be interested in… The satellite reception was bad. Really hard to watch with a lot of dropped video frames. For me, Playmakers was a fail. Another huge fail on my cruise on
Navigator Of The Seas was the Internet service… Which was a surprise because
Royal Caribbean normally has really good Internet
from the O3B satellite network. But on our 5-day cruise they never once connected
to the O3B satellites, as far as I could tell. I ran numerous speed tests every day of the cruise. I never saw a ping time less than 600 milliseconds… Which tells me they were using
a C-band satellite the whole time. If they had been connected to the O3B network… The ping times would have been
way under 200 milliseconds. I went down and talked to the Internet manager
two different times to make sure that
he was aware of what was going on… He didn’t seem to care much. While the recent 115 million dollar renovation
of Navigator Of The Seas did do great things
up on the pool deck… And inside on the Royal Promenade… The cabins are still what you would expect
on a 17 year old cruise ship. Our balcony cabin wasn’t bad, but… It just didn’t have things like USB charging ports… Or electrical outlets by the bed, or dual closets… Like you’ll find on the newer Royal Caribbean ships. I’m going to do a separate video which will
be a full tour of our balcony cabin. That will be coming
about a week after I post this video… So, if you don’t see a link to it up in the
top corner of the screen right about now… That means I’m still working on it. We did have a really good Cabin Steward. A bad cabin steward cleans the cabins in order
from one end of his section to the other,
on his schedule. A great cabin steward like we had on this ship
doesn’t clean the rooms in order… He watches for when you leave the cabin,
and has the cabin all spiffed up before you return. I already mentioned that Hurricane Dorian
was a good thing for us… Turning our 3-day cruise in to
a 5-day cruise at the 3-day price. But there were other nice hurricane benefits, too. Royal Caribbean knew that most of the passengers
had booked this cruise in order to visit their
private island at Coco Cay in the Bahamas. And because they weren’t able to get us to Coco Cay… They gave us about $300 in credit
towards a future cruise. And there was one other thing. A lot of people just outright cancelled this cruise,
so the ship was a lot less crowded than normal. Sometimes there are as many as 4000 passengers
aboard Navigator Of The Seas, but… With all the cancellations due to the hurricane… This week we shared the ship with just 2400 guests. And because I totally love a quiet, uncrowded cruise… The day the ship visited Costa Maya… We just stayed onboard while most of
the other passengers went ashore. It was like being a billionaire with my own yacht! We totally loved spending the morning
at the Solarium pool… And having it pretty much to ourselves
for several hours. Speaking of living like a big shot… Before we wrap this this up,
I should mention our flight to Florida… In First Class on a Boeing Triple 7. Oh my, I love travelling like this! Those big comfortable pods are so much better… Than sitting three seats across
like you do on a lot of flights. I like having places to store things, and… Being able to recline the seat back…
or extend a foot rest. And I was able to monitor the progress
of the hurricane as it approached Florida… Thanks to the great entertainment system
that they had on this American Airlines triple 7. The round-trip first class coast to coast flight
literally cost us more than the entire cruise did, but… I think it was worth it. All airplanes should be this comfortable. All flights should be this good! Five days of cruising in the Western Caribbean
was all it took for Hurricane Dorian
to move past the area. By the time we sailed in to the Port Of Miami
in the pre-dawn hours of September 4th… The Port was open for business again… And Hurricane Dorian was moving on
towards South Carolina. These pictures here are a bit dark because… It was REALLY early in the morning
when we pulled in. But I got one last time lapse video
as the ship did a 180 degree turn
in the turning basin just before we docked. I mentioned, maybe a few times too many,
that this was our 49th cruise. And if you’re wondering what we’ve got lined up
for big number 50… That one’s going to be in The Haven
on Norwegian Joy… From Southern California,
driving distance from our house. I’ll be looking forward to that one
for the next few months! Until then, I’ll be doing a lot of model train videos… Perhaps an occasional puppy video… And probably telling you more about the
two group cruises that we’ve got coming up. How’d you like to go with me for a Caribbean cruise
on Carnival’s upcoming new ship, the Mardi Gras? Or maybe you’d like to come along
on a cruise to Alaska with us next summer. You’ll find details on my web site at JimZim.net That is the full story
of our cruise on Navigator Of The Seas. Not the best cruise we’ve ever been on,
but I’d give it a solid 8 on a 10 scale I think. And I suspect that if we had made it to Coco Cay… And I could have had fun on all those waterslides… It probably would have made up for a few of
the negatives, and raised my score up to a 9… Which is pretty great for an inexpensive cruise,
especially if you live close enough
to just drive to the port for the weekend. If you’re interested in booking a cruise
on Navigator Of The Seas,
or any cruise ship on any cruise line… Feel free to use the services of my travel agent,
Caitlin Gallagher. Her services cost you nothing at all… Her fees are paid for by the cruise lines. She can take care of all the little details
that you should be paying attention to
when you book a cruise. She can help prevent some of those
rookie cruiser mistakes that people make… And I’ve always found her super easy to work with. I’m putting links up on the screen right now
to a couple of my other videos that I think you’d enjoy. Click on one to watch that video. And if you liked this video,
please leave a comment. I enjoy reading those… And also hit the thumbs up button… To let YouTube know that this is a good video
that they should recommend to other people. I’m Jim Zim.
Thanks for watching!

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