What To Do on Navigator of the Seas

Cruise to Mexico: What to Do On Navigator of the Seas

Like I said in my last post, I recently took a weekend cruise to Baja on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas. Three nights isn’t enough time to truly unwind, but it was a great little escape on a great big ship.

With so many fun things to do on Navigator of the Seas, we didn’t know how to spend our only sea day. Should we partake in some high-energy family-bonding activities? Lay by the pool and soak up the sun? Eat chili cheese nachos until we were sick? It was hard to decide.

So we did all of it.

Here’s how we crammed the absolute most into our sea day on Navigator.

Getting to Know Navigator of the Seas

As newly minted members of the Crown & Anchor Society, we’re trying to climb the points ladder of Royal Caribbean’s cruise loyalty program. And since we live in San Diego, that means we’ll be sailing on Navigator of the Seas a whole bunch. That’s because it’s the only Royal ship that currently sails out of Southern California.

Right now, it cycles through three itineraries:

  • Three nights to Ensenada
  • Four nights to Catalina Island and Ensenada
  • Seven nights to Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlán

I’ll be cruising on the Navigator in December, doing that seven-nighter to the Mexican Riviera. And I’m sure I’ll make it to Catalina at some point.

As you can see, it’s a pretty big ship with a lot of awesome venues and activities:

Directory map of the Navigator of the Seas, as displayed in the Royal Promenade.
It’s hard to believe this is a relatively small ship, compared to those in the Oasis class.

Tips for the Perfect Sea Day on Navigator of the Seas

While I love to relax when I’m on a cruise, I still like to make the most of my time onboard. So with my SeaPass in one hand and my Cruise Compass in the other (actually, they didn’t distribute a Cruise Compass on this ship, so I relied on the app), I set about planning the perfect sea day.

Here’s what it was like from start to finish.

1. Hit Up Playmakers for Morning Fun & Games

Okay, I didn’t actually plan this. The truth is, it was early and we had an hour to kill after breakfast. This sailing had a bit of a party vibe; I’m not sure if it’s because it was a weekend cruise or if it’s always like that on Navigator.

Either way, it meant that before ten o’clock in the morning, things were relatively quiet onboard. Which was awesome for us early risers, because we got to enjoy a nearly empty Royal Promenade.

The Royal Promenade with hardly anyone in it.
This was Saturday morning. Hardly a person in sight!

Playmakers was open, but there was hardly anybody in there. In case you’re not familiar with Playmakers, it’s a sports bar and arcade with all sorts of fun games. There’s foosball, tabletop shuffleboard, vintage video games, and a giant Connect Four, just to name a few.

So we snagged the giant Jenga and played until it made a huge, clattering mess all over the floor of the Promenade.

Our giant jenga creation, mid-game.
Teetering ever so dangerously over the foosball table…

It was completely unplanned and the perfect opportunity for some fun family bonding.

2. Go Behind the Scenes on the All Access Ship Tour

After our game was over, we handed the Jenga pieces off to another waiting family and headed to the main dining room to meet the Shore Excursions director. Yes, even though it was a sea day, we had something planned: the All Access Ship Tour.

A glass of champagne with my All Access pass.
They treat you right on this All Access tour.

This isn’t available on all sailings, and when it is, it’s always sold out. So I was thrilled to be able to grab us three spots. I’ve always wanted to see what was going on behind the scenes of a working cruise ship, and this tour completely exceeded my expectations.

First, they start you off with some champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. Then they lead you on a tour of:

  • the galley, where you can see how they prepare all the delicious food
  • the storage closets and freezers, where you can be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of produce it takes to feed a ship full of vacationers
  • the laundry room, where all your towels and sheets get washed and pressed
  • the “I-95,” or the long corridor on the lower deck that runs the entire length of the ship
  • the engineers’ room, but not the actual room where they keep the engines because that’s too dangerous
  • the Royal Theater, where the musical director takes you backstage

Perhaps the most exciting place we got to visit on the All Access Tour was the bridge. We met the captain, and got the chance to see the ocean from his point of view.

If you ever get a chance to do this, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

3. Eat Poolside Mexican Food From El Loco Fresh

The behind-the-scenes tour was amazing, but long – over two and a half hours! – so when it was over, we were tired and hungry. Good thing there were plenty of lounges available at the pool.

A view of the 11th floor pool with a lot of people around.
The view of the 11th floor pool from the 12th floor sundeck.

I know it looks like it’s insanely crowded, but it didn’t feel that way. And while there was a scarcity of chairs directly in front of the pool, we easily scored three on the 12th-floor sundeck. We were right next to the hot tub with great views of the ocean and clear views of the pool area, too. I actually preferred being up there than being right down in the middle of it all.

Anyway, once our seats were secured, there was the little matter of filling our bellies. Which was easy, considering there’s an amazing buffet of Mexican food on the pool deck. El Loco Fresh has self-serve tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and my personal favorite, nachos.

A plate of chili cheese nachos piled with jalapenos and a cheese quesadilla.
I ate these chili cheese nachos from El Loco Fresh, like, every day. Bonus quesadilla FTW.

So you could fill up your plate and return to your deck chair, then snack leisurely while listening to the smooth Caribbean music being played by the live band. Once the server came by to deliver a Goombay Smash, I was in heaven.

4. Get Your Adrenaline Pumping on The Perfect Storm

After digesting my lunch and downing my drink, my son asked me to go on the water slides with him. And who am I to say no?

Navigator of the Seas has two water slides: the Riptide and the Blaster. The Riptide is a head-first mat slide that’s really fast and really exhilarating. The Blaster is an “aqua coaster” that propels you up and splashes you down several times. (It’s also the longest water slide at sea, as of this writing.)

Check out this awesome POV video of the Riptide from Royal Caribbean Blog, which is my favorite cruise blog on the internet (aside from Cruise Obsessed, natch.)

The line for the Blaster was long, but not frustratingly so. We probably waited fifteen minutes, and we were able to ride together in a single two-person raft. The line for the Riptide was nonexistent, as it’s a shorter, faster slide.

5. See One of the Spectacular Shows

We spent a couple of more hours at the pool before heading back to our stateroom to change for dinner. We had the early seating in the main dining room, which left plenty of time for us to get to the evening’s featured show.

Navigator of the Seas entertainment is top notch. There was an amazing show every night. From the dancing drones and figure skaters in Studio B to the Diva of the Seas Stefani Parker and her tribute to Whitney Houston, we always had something to look forward to after dinner.

This night, we saw a song-and-dance performance called Showgirl! Past. Present. Future. Everyone on stage was mind-bogglingly talented.

Performers on stage in brightly colored costumes.
I don’t know how they performed so smoothly when the ship was rocking so much.

What was particularly exciting was that we were just on that stage a few hours earlier during the All Access Tour. Those costumes the dancers were wearing? We saw them on hangers backstage!

6. Enjoy a Tiki Drink at the Bamboo Room

Finally, it was time for Mommy and Daddy to have a little date. My son went off to the kids’ club for an hour while my husband and I hit up the Bamboo Room. It’s a cute little tiki bar in the Royal Promenade with an extensive menu of specialty cocktails.

The menu for the Bamboo Room on Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas.
So many choices. And snacks, too!

I really loved the bartender here. When I ordered the Banana Colada, he narrowed his eyes and asked if I’d ever had it before. When I said no, he said, “Let me make you a sample so you can try before you buy.”

I’m guessing people order it and hate it pretty often, so he was right to do that for me, too, because I was not a fan.

In the end, my husband ordered a Bamboo Swizzle and I got a Tiki Tea.

A tiki tea in a tiki glass topped with a cherry and a lemon slice.
Mezcal and peach iced tea, together at last.

In the end, my husband and I wound up switching drinks, since I really liked the Bamboo Swizzle and he’s a gentleman.

This bar had a cool, laidback vibe that was the perfect way to end the perfect day on Navigator of the Seas.

What Navigator of the Seas Activities Did I Miss?

Have you had the chance to sail on this fantastic ship? If so, how did you spend your sea days? Let me know in the comments.

What to Do on Navigator of the Seas

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