A Grand Ship Navigates An Upgrade

Navigator-1-Tenerife copyA dozen years ago she was the world's biggest cruise ship and yesterday the Navigator of the Seas emerged officially from dry dock, where the experts spent a month trying to make her look like the biggest ships of today.

They gave the Navigator a touch of Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, plus a taste of still-to-be-launched Quantum of the Seas, and sent her on her way in the hope that the people would like her.

What's not to like?

The Navigator was our introduction to Royal Caribbean ships and, frankly, we loved her. This is a ship that carries just over 3,000 passengers, which is mid-size by today's standards, and there are lots of passengers who are quite comfortable with that size. Now that Navigator's 12 years old, it was time to bring her into the second decade of the 21st century, which meant the following:

• The addition of the FlowRider, which gives passengers a chance to try surfing without having to worry about big waves, bigger sharks and drowning. In short, it simulates surfing.

• Dressing up 81 inside rooms to look like outside rooms, an apparition that will be even more apparent on the much bigger Quantum of the Seas, when it arrives in RC-Virtual StateroomNovember. In short, the "windows" on the inside rooms will simulate balconies, but walking onto virtual balconies is not recommended.

• An upgrade in dining. Because Navigator sails Western Caribbean cruises out of Galveston, at least for now, there's more than a touch of Mexico on board. Sabor is what the Mexican restaurant is called and there are dishes like Oaxacan Ceviche of Red Snapper and Roasted Corn Empanada, plus the usual assortment of burritos and tacos and quesadillas. Wash it down with beer or tequila, or both, and the experience must be a good one because Sabor comes with a $25 fee.

Beyond that, it's the typical upgrades. Better TVs. More restaurants like the big boys have. WiFi throughout the ship. A rock wall to climb, ice on which to skate and new shows to entertain you in the theater.

We'd say Navigator had a facelift but, to us, she never looked like she needed one.

Carnival Victory
5 nights
March 31, 2014
Miami (return): NassauHalf Moon CayGrand Turk
Inside: $269
Cost per day: $53
www.carnival.com

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