You can’t get much closer to the cruise port than this hotel! At the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, you are literally a crosswalk away from boarding your ship. On our recent re-positioning cruise from Hawaii to Vancouver, we spent a post-cruise night at this hotel, and we can assure you that the hotel offers a lot more than just an ideal location. See why this hotel is a great pre-cruise stay for your next Alaskan cruise in our Fairmont Waterfront Hotel Review.
We were not sure exactly what kind of view to expect with our Deluxe City View Room, but we were pleasantly surprised. When we opened the door to our room, we couldn’t believe that we had a direct view of our ship! The over-sized window looked out to the cruise terminal with a full frontal sighting of Celebrity Solstice. We could not ask for a better vantage point.
In terms of the room itself, the Fairmont Waterfront is pretty typical of most modern, moderately priced hotels (Our room was priced $340 USD for the night). Our large 330 square foot room was inviting and offered plenty of space.
The hotel offer included WiFi throughout the building, which is always a nice perk for us.
There was a large, standard desk that included technology ports and outlets for devices. There was also an additional sitting area with an ottoman and small table that was the perfect location to cozy up and admire our view.
All of the room furnishings looked brand new. While the decor and ambiance was rather neutral and muted like most other hotels, it provided the simple elegance we needed for our post cruise night in the city.
Dropping our bags off at the room, we spent all day touring Vancouver and racking up close to 20K steps! So, the plush Sealy Posturepedic pillow-top bed was the perfect retreat before our early flight home in the morning.
The remodeled bathrooms are also elegant and spacious offering a rain spa shower, dark wood finishings, and upscale bath products.
Beyond the recently renovated accommodations, the hotel offers several other perks as well. Besides being ideally situated next to the cruise terminal, the hotel is also the perfect starting point for other adventures in the city. If you are not sure what to do while in Vancouver, you can always ask the onsite Concierge team.
In addition, the hotel has a 24 hour fitness center, a heated outdoor pool, and a restaurant. Given our short stay was packed with mostly sightseeing, we did not make use of any of these facilities.
The service was friendly and accommodating, even providing me with free cough drops. Arranging our taxi to the airport in the morning was handled quickly and efficiently by the concierge (There is no Uber currently in Vancouver).
For those taking an Alaskan cruise from/to Vancouver, we could not recommend this hotel enough. Do make sure you book early though, as the Fairmont Waterfront does sell out quickly during cruise season.
Have you stayed at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver, BC? What are your favorite hotels near this popular Alaskan cruise departure port? Drop us an anchor below with your hotel reviews.
For our latest voyage of 2019, we took a quick three-day getaway on the newly amplified Navigator of the Seas. This weekend cruise included a stop at the cruise line’s new private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay. We have returned and want to share every minute of this exciting trip. So, hot off the presses is our Navigator of the Seas Bahamas Cruise Review!
Navigator of the Seas Bahamas Cruise Review
Navigator of the Seas Ship Overview
This Voyager-class ship recently underwent a multi-million dollar update. As part of the Royal Amplified program, Navigator of the Seas received a number of new amenities, venues, eateries, and some much needed cosmetic enhancements.
Now, the ship is the second in the class to offer three and four day cruises to the Bahamas. Departing from Miami, FL, Navigator of the Seas provides cruisers one of the most innovative and advanced ships in the short cruise market. Whether you are looking for a quick weekend getaway or want to take some vacation days during the week, this ship might be your best option.
Both the 3 and 4-day itineraries include full day stops at Royal Caribbean’s newly transformed private island of Perfect Day at CocoCay, and Nassau, Bahamas. The four-day cruise also includes an additional sea day.
We sailed on Mariner of the Seas last summer and have to say that Navigator of the Seas certainly has a few extra bells and whistles that makes it our preferred ship offering these short Bahamas cruises.
Among the updates is a totally redesigned pool deck. This Caribbean inspired pool deck includes a new water feature for kids, as well as the three-story Lime and Coconut Bar. Along with a new bar menu, this outdoor area also features several different seating options, including hammocks, day beds, and covered casitas to help you escape the direct sun.
Other notable outdoor features include two new to the fleet waterslides, including the line’s first water coaster, aptly named the Aqua Blaster.
Inside, the Royal Promenade received a face-lift. Both a Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade as well as the Bamboo Room tiki bar were added. Dining venues, including Hooked Seafood, El Loco Fresh, and a Johnny Rockets Express, greatly improved the dining options onboard Navigator of the Seas as well.
The staterooms received some touch-ups, with new decor, flooring, furniture, and accents that helped to breath new life into this 17-year-old ship.
With a traditional setup of evening entertainment, cruise director activities, game shows, and other events, the line packs in almost everything you would expect to find on a seven-day cruise in only a few days. Let’s just say, there were plenty of late nights and early mornings on this trip!
Navigator of the Seas Bahamas Cruise Review
Day 1 – Miami, FL
An Easy Embarkation Morning
Flying down the night before our cruise, we stayed at the East Miami hotel. This is a phenomenal property that we would highly recommend. If you can swing it, opt for a corner King Balcony. You will not be disappointed!
Preparing for our embarkation day rituals, we were ready to check out of the hotel by 9:40 am. A two-minute wait for our Uber, and we were off, only to encounter some unexpected traffic.
Still, we arrived at Terminal A in Miami, FL a few minutes after 10 am. Similar to our Symphony of the Seas cruise a few months earlier, check-in at the terminal was fast and efficient. We were through registration and security with no lines.
Up to the waiting area, we were idle for about 15 minutes before the announcement was made a bit past 10:30 am that the first wave of eligible cruisers, including Diamond members, could board the ship.
Back Onboard a Royal Caribbean Ship!
If you know us, you can probably guess what happened next. The Princess and I spent close to two hours exploring the “new” Navigator of the Seas. Starting at the top open-air decks, we snaked our way around the new waterslides, pool deck, fitness areas, and more.
During our 14 deck journey, we captured video and photos of our surroundings. By around 12:30 pm, the crowds were making picture taking of the indoor areas like the Promenade more difficult.
So, we found a table at the Deck 12 version of the Lime and the Coconut bar to officially kick-off the cruise with a cocktail. We purchased the Deluxe Drink Package pre-cruise during a sale, so it was time to put it to good use.
Enjoying the sun and drinks, we started to get a bit hungry. Taking advantage of a cruise planner sale once again, we also booked the Unlimited Dining Package. Skipping the buffet as we usually do, we headed down to Playmakers Sports Bar for lunch.
The food and service were similar to our previous visits to this restaurant on other Royal ships. The chicken wings were dynamite, and the Princess enjoyed her chicken sandwich. While the nachos were massive, they came out a bit cold. We also grabbed another round of drinks, checking off a second venue on our drink around the ship.
So far, we were keeping up with the necessary pace to get all the bars and lounges on the ship checked off our list in only 2.5 days.
We would recommend this venue, especially since it is priced a la carte, meaning you can order a few snacks or apps while watching the various sports displayed on the large screen televisions.
A Mandatory Afternoon on Navigator of the Seas
During lunch, the announcement was made that rooms were ready, so we headed aft to our cabin on deck 9.
Along our walk to this spacious balcony room, 9732, we passed one piece of our luggage. Grabbing the bag, and subsequently finding our second piece of luggage, we unpacked and settled in over the next 45 minutes.
Checking off most of the essentials for the day, we found a daybed above the pool deck and ordered another round of drinks. Fully prepared to enjoy the outdoors until our muster drill, some passing rain cleared out the open-air decks pretty quickly.
Instead, we sat in the R Bar for about 30 minutes as we prepared for muster. Unfortunately, given our cabin location, we were stuck in muster station D25, which put us outside in the humid, rainy weather.
Finishing up the muster drill, we tried to find a location on deck 12 for sail away. Partially covered, we stuck it out for a few minutes, but the weather had different plans for us. Several ominous clouds produced thunder, lighting, and heavy rain. So, our alternative plan was to watch sail away from our cabin balcony.
First Night Onboard
With the Unlimited Dining Plan, you are assigned a restaurant on night one then can book the remaining reservations once onboard the ship. We found out during our travels earlier in the day that we would be dining at Jamie’s Italian for 6:30 pm tonight. We also secured reservations for 6:30 pm at the other two specialty restaurants. On night 2, we would be dining at Chops Grille, and at Hooked Seafood on night 3.
With a quick shower and costume change, we were to the restaurant a few minutes early. Our waiter, who was also named Jamie, was marvelous, and the food was much better than our trip on Mariner of the Seas the year before.
Our starters, including my calamari and Bolognese, were melt in your mouth delicious. The entrees were well-prepared. One of my favorite desserts onboard, the limoncello cheesecake, also shined.
Waddling out of the restaurant around 8 pm, we had some time to kill as tonight’s entertainment was the iSkate show at 9:20 pm in Studio B.
Strolling the Promenade, we purchased the obligatory t-shirt but were disappointed to find out that they had no ship ornaments with the vessel’s new design.
Getting in line at Studio B at 8:50 pm, the doors opened a few minutes later. Being creatures of habit, we made a b-line to the portside of the rink to sit in our same general area.
Overall, the show was better than the circus-themed production on Mariner of the Seas but not one of the best ice shows on a Royal ship. Like much of the crowd, we exited Studio B to walk up a flight of stairs and head forward to the Royal Theater for the Welcome Aboard show.
This show featured the comedian Alvin Williams. The Princess was convinced that he was a headliner on a previous cruise. While I can not deny or confirm these claims, we both agreed that his set was not very funny.
It’s Not Bedtime Yet
At the show, we were first introduced to our cruise director, Hugo Arenas. A very animated and quirky guy, he led his staff with plenty of energy during the activities and parties.
Speaking of parties, it was straight to the Promenade for the 70’s Disco Inferno Party. With the keen eye of the Princess, we secured some prime seats at the English Pub. From here, we could watch all of the action.
Finishing up by 11:45 pm, we waited around for the Midnight Balloon Drop. Led by Hugo, the crowded counted down as hundreds of balloons descended on to the Royal Promenade. It was now past midnight, and time to head to bed!
We knew that the second day would be packed with exploring the brand new Perfect Day at CocoCay. With a lot of terrain to cover, we needed as much shut eye as possible.
During our travels earlier in the day, we never ran into our stateroom attendant, which meant that we returned back to the room with no towel animal to greet us.
Day 2 – Perfect Day at CocoCay
We Have Finally Arrived!
Finally, it was time to explore Perfect Day at CocoCay! Well, not just yet. The ship was scheduled to dock at 8 am, so we were up at 6 am.
Luckily, it was a clear and sunny morning. We could only hope that this weather lasted the entire day. As the Princess got ready, I explored the quiet ship grabbing photos and videos of the interior venues that were busy the day before.
I eventually made my way up to Deck 13 aft to watch our ship turn around and dock at the pier. Yes, the entrance and pier are that impressive.
Before getting back to the room, I grabbed us iced lattes and a few snacks from Café Promenade. We were determined to be among the first off the ship this morning. This meant that we had no time to waste eating breakfast in the Windjammer or the MDR.
Back to the room, we switched places so I could get ready. From our balcony, we watched the staff busily unloading supplies and food to bring to the island. Being docked for almost an hour but not able to get off the ship yet was killing us.
Even though we hadn’t heard an announcement yet, we started walking down to the gangway around 8 am, which was our scheduled arrival time. During our travels, we were officially cleared to start exploring Perfect Day at CocoCay!
A Truly Perfect Day
We stayed on the island from 8 am to 4 pm, which is probably the longest beach day that we’ve had in a while! Making every minute of our time ashore count, we left no part of the island unexplored. We started with a self-guided tour passing the new Captain Jill’s Galleon and entrance to the Thrill Waterpark, then back towards the Up, Up and Away helium balloon, and on towards the beaches.
Looping around the beaches and Chill Island (from the reverse direction), we circled back to the Thrill Waterpark. Pre-cruise, we purchased the combo zip line and water park ticket for an amazing deal. We picked the 10 am zip line time slot.
This gave us just the right amount of time to walk around the island with very few people in our pictures. Finishing up by 9:45 am, we entered the waterpark and secured some loungers with an umbrella. Finding an unused locker, we put our gear away, changed into sneakers, and headed to the zip line stand.
The entire experience took about 45 minutes. The zip lines were good and worth the price that we paid, but we are not sure that we would do them again, especially at full price. The zipline in Labadee is much better in our opinion.
Following the ziplines, we spent most of the day in the Thrill Waterpark riding all of the slides, surfing the wave pool, and of course eating. Everything met our approval with a big thumbs up!
The End to a Perfect Day
About 1:30 pm, we took a break to walk around the island and see how Perfect Day at CocoCay handled the crowds. We also grabbed a few drinks at the Oasis Lagoon and then Captain Jack’s. With only our ship docked, there was plenty of space on the beaches and plenty of loungers.
The Oasis Lagoon freshwater pool was the central party on the island by afternoon, complete with the swim up bar and DJ.
Back at the waterpark a little before 3 pm, the lines were much smaller now, so I was able to get in a few more rounds of slides on both towers while the Princess relaxed under an umbrella.
Around 4 pm, we started to dry off and might have also grabbed a “snack” of funnel cake. According to my FitBit, we had covered over 20K steps, so why not!
Exiting the waterpark, we debated grabbing another drink or taking more pictures, but we decided to follow the other cruisers who were heading back to the ship.
Our entire day spent at CocoCay was amazing, and we both agreed the cruise line’s private island exceeded our expectations.
In fact, we have already booked another trip to the island for later this summer.
Getting Ready For Dinner
Through security and up a few decks, we joined the line at Café Promenade for an iced latte. Tonight was going to be another late night, and we needed some caffeine.
Tonight, we had Chops Grille booked for 6:30 pm, even though neither of us were all that hungry.
With dark clouds looming on the horizon, we pulled away just in time. I filmed sail away while the Princess showered and got ready for dinner.
We made our way up to deck 11 right on time. As we suspected, the restaurant was much busier than Jamie’s Italian was on night 1.
It took a few minutes for us to be checked-in and sat at a table towards the back of the restaurant. This was the first sign that it was going to be a long dinner. Our server was very sporadic during the course of the evening, coming by quickly to say hello, but then disappearing for long stretches of time. The food fared a bit better but was also kind of a mixed-bag.
We were not impressed with the bacon and crab cake starters. My filet mignon was cooked as ordered, and..
One thing we love about cruising to Alaska is the diversity of shore excursions. Among the popular stops on many Alaskan cruises is Skagway. This historic town offers several interactive tours that transport you back to 1898. During our recent visit to this town made famous by the Gold Rush, we decided to book one of the more risque tours which included a stop at the infamous Red Onion Saloon. We survived, with our dignity intact, and share our experiences touring downtown Skagway in our Ghost and Good Time Girls Walking Tour Review.
Skagway, Alaska is a relatively small town. While you can certainly walk the streets using a map of the local attractions, many tour operators also offer guided excursions. Having briefly explored the downtown area during our last visit to Skagway, we opted for a guided tour this time. We decided to have a little fun and book the Ghost and Goodtime Girls Walking Tour.
Being only a couple hours long, this tour would give us plenty of time on our own later in the day for shopping and such.
Comparing prices for the tour, we decided to book directly with the Saloon versus through the cruise line. This saved us over $20 a person.
With Norwegian Bliss scheduled to dock early, we booked the 9 am tour. Being among the first passengers off the ship, we were able to secure some photos of the rather quiet downtown area during our walk to the meeting spot. Most of the other early birds were on excursions that took them way from the town, like the White Pass Railway.
We arrived at the Skagway Museum and Town Hall about ten minutes early. Of course, we had our tickets in hand eagerly awaiting our tour guide. As luck would have it, we would end up seeing buses of cruise passengers being dropped off with their “madams” ready to start the tour. When I asked one of the tour leaders about our tickets, she indicated “the next tour is for you”.
At this point, we had been waiting a while and were determined to join the next tour regardless. When the next bus arrived, the tour guide welcomed us into the group with our souvenir garter to display proudly on our arms.
Strutting Our Stuff All Over Town
Unfortunately, we missed whatever introductions were made on the bus ride over to the first stop. Thankfully, we were able to keep up with the fast-paced wit and innuendo for the remainder of the walking tour. Our tour guide, Daisy, was in character from the start as she began our walking tour of Skagway’s historic streets and back alleys.
The tour visits several stops along the way, some of which were well marked with plaques to describe the historical significance while others don’t flaunt the details of their lewd history.
During our travels, Daisy stayed true to character while detailing some stories of the more notable women of the time like Klondike Kate, Cad Wilson, and Diamond Lil. The historical storytelling was funny, yet informative and sobering at the same time. The harsh realities of the time period, as well as the living conditions that many of these women endured, certainly painted the picture of this grim profession.
Among the several stops were some of the still standing “houses of negotiable affection”. These 120+ year old buildings have stood the test of time.
While we might have learned more than we needed to know about these “cribs” and the ins and outs of the business, we had some fun along the way. Let’s just say, we are all professional streetwalkers now!
Examining the boom and bust of Skagway through the “adult” lens on the Ghost and Goodtime Girls Walking Tour definitely provided a very unique perspective on this historic town. You soon realize that the short lived high-times of this city were certainly a rather lawless and dynamic time.
After strutting through the streets, the tour eventually ends at the “back entrance” to the Red Onion Saloon as the tour also includes a visit to the Brothel Museum. Those who are interested in only viewing these upstairs rooms and the large collection of artifacts can purchase “The Quickie” tour.
Following a champagne toast led by the Goodtime Girls, we were directed upstairs to explore the halls and bedrooms of this celebrated brothel. Here, we learned a thing or two about how it all went down, literally. Basically, men would select one of the girls from the display of dolls. Once the girl was selected and he made his way to her crib, her doll was laid down until she was available once again.
This tour is part self-guided exploration and part narrated. We got to see some original furnishings from the era, images of the ladies who worked here, and even hear stories of the resident ghost, Lydia. Fortunately, she did not make an appearance during our visit.
The tour ended with the group exiting through the opposite end of the building. Ever the gentleman, I made sure to leave our guide a tip for services rendered!
Ghost and Goodtime Girls Walking Tour Overview
The Ghost and Goodtime Girls Walking Tour provided an entertaining look at downtown Skagway, Alaska. It included stops at many of the town’s notable landmarks and establishments, along with some not commonly found on tour maps.
The tour company advises guests should be 14+ years of age. Given the nature of many of the topics, and jokes, the age warning should be considered. Booking directly through the Red Onion Saloon’s website did save us money, but it was a bit unorganized finding our tour guide in the morning.
If you are visiting Skagway for the first time, this tour might not be at the top of your list. Other tours that provide more detail about the Gold Rush era or perhaps a ride on the White Pass Rail are more popular options.
However, it was an ideal tour for our second visit to Skagway as it offered some new stories and unique perspectives on some of the tales that we had heard during our previous trip.
The approximately 2 hour walking tour was slow paced with several stopping points along the way. Next time we see one of the madams strutting her stuff along the streets of Skagway, we will be sure to say hello. Don’t forget to look all the way to the left and all the way to the right!
Have you visited Skagway, Alaska? Would you consider taking the Ghost and Goodtime Girls Walking Tour? Drop us an anchor below with your favorite tours in this popular Alaskan cruise port.
CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, has recently undergone a multi-million dollar renovation. This newly transformed island, now referred to as Perfect Day at CocoCay, offers several new island experiences and adventures. If you are considering a trip to this private oasis, you will want to have a look at the Top Perfect Day at CocoCay Shore Excursions to decide how you will spend your time on the island. Of course, there are several complimentary activities to enjoy on the island as well.
Top Perfect Day at CocoCay Shore Excursions
Are you daring enough to take the 135-foot plunge down the tallest waterslide in North America? The Thrill Waterpark on CocoCay features 13 waterslides, the most slides found in any waterpark in the Caribbean. It also features the Caribbean’s largest wave pool and a kid-friendly adventure pool. Daredevil’s Peak is just one of 7 slides on Daredevil’s Tower. There is also the Family Tower which includes 6 multi-rider slides. Prices for a full day Waterpark pass start at $43.99 (with pre-cruise discount) and are available to book pre-cruise in your online cruise planner. These passes entitle you to unlimited use of all the attractions in the Thrill Waterpark. Half day (afternoon) passes are also available for some sailings.
Perfect Day CocoCay Zip Line
While at CocoCay, you can also fly above the island on an exhilarating 1,600 foot long zip line. Strap in for takeoff near the arrivals plaza and soar over the Thrill Waterpark for some amazing aerial views of the island. The excursion includes 3 zip lines and takes approximately 45 minutes, including safety briefing and set up. So, you will still have plenty of time to enjoy everything else on the island. Prices for the Zip Line start at $70.99 (with pre-cruise discount promotions). There is also a Waterpark and Zip Line combo pass starting at $109.99.
Up, Up and Away Helium Balloon Ride
For a whole new perspective, cruisers can rise to new heights in a helium balloon up to 450 feet above the island. From this highest vantage point in the Bahamas, you will score amazing views of Perfect Day at CocoCay. This CocoCay shore excursion lasts approximately 30 minutes with 10 minutes of air time. Be sure to have your cameras ready! Prices for this activity are starting at $39.99. Of course, these prices will vary based on time of sailing and current online promotional discounts, so be sure to check your cruise planner for the most accurate information for your particular sailing.
CocoCay All Day Snorkeling
Pick up your snorkel equipment at the Snorkel Shack to enjoy a fun-filled day of snorkeling at your leisure. Explore the tropical waters of the Bahamas to discover the marine life, the breathtaking reef, and the artificial shipwreck teeming with an array of fish. Prices for all day rental of snorkel equipment start at $26.99. Of course, you can also bring along your own snorkel gear and enjoy the pristine waters of CocoCay on your own.
Hop on your own Sea-Doo personal watercraft for a tour around CocoCay and the Berry Islands. During this shore excursion, you will enjoy a full speed guided tour where you will view various CocoCay sights including Great Stirrup Cay Lighthouse, Slaughter Harbor, Starfish Alley, and the abandoned island community of Cistern Cay. This tour is approximately 75 minutes in total length and includes 50 minutes of ride time. You must be at least 16 years old to drive. Prices start at $61.99 for a driver and $21.99 for a passenger.
Parasail Adventure Tour
Another way to enjoy the scenery of CocoCay is a parasail tour. From 400 feet above sea level, you’ll fly tandem with another guest as you take in the panoramic vistas of the island on this unforgettable adventure. This shore excursion includes an approximately 45-60 minute boat ride and 5-6 minutes of flight time. Prices for the Parasail Adventure Tour start at $73.99 when booked pre-cruise using your online cruise planner.
Stingray City Bahamas
During this tour, you will take a short speedboat ride to Stingray Cay, where the calm, clear waters are the home to many Southern Stingrays. Following a safety briefing, you will enter the 3-8 foot water where you will have the opportunity to interact, feed, and have your picture taken with these gentle creatures. The total excursion time is about 90 minutes including transportation and some additional time for snorkeling. Pricing for this tour starts at $43.99.
Swimming Pigs Tour
This newly offered 1.5-hour adventure brings you up close and personal with the famous swimming pigs of the Bahamas. You will have the opportunity to feed and interact with these creatures at a private island nestled among the northern Berry Islands. You’ll also learn all about how these animals got to the Bahamas and will get to have your photo taken with these amazing swimming pigs. Pricing for this excursion starts at $81.99.
If you are up for a little cardio session, then you can coast through the shallow waters of CocoCay on a two-person kayak. On this guided tour, you will learn all about the animal inhabitants in this ecosystem and get some amazing island views. This Perfect Day at CocoCay shore excursion is approximately 90 minutes in length. Pricing starts at $31.99, or combo passes with snorkeling are available for $53.99+.
Glass Bottom Boat Tour
In this 90 minute glass bottom boat tour, you will get a spectacular view of the gorgeous Berry Islands’ coral reefs, tropical fish, and other sea life. All from the comforts of a catamaran, you can see the different species that swim through the Bahamian waters as a guide educates you on the rich and diverse marine life that call this area home. Prices for the glass bottom boat tour start at $30.99.
Reef Snorkeling and Sandbar Getaway
This shore excursion begins with a guided hour-long snorkeling tour that takes you by boat to a beautiful coral reef system close to CocoCay. Once you’re in the turquoise water, you’ll see plenty of fish and some beautiful coral reefs. Afterwards, go for a swim in the shallow waters near the sandbar, or relax on a floating chair with a refreshing tropical drink. This tour is listed as 2.5 hours long, with snorkeling depth of up to 10 feet. Prices for this excursion are starting at $39.99
If you want to dive a bit deeper into CocCay’s underwater world, then you will want to book this Scuba Dive excursion. On this one-tank, shallow-water shore dive, you will explore to a maximum depth of 40 feet. Your PADI instructor will provide you with a tank and help you identify the various marine life and coral formations in the area. This excursion is approximately 90 minutes. Prices start at $50.99 with equipment or $42.99 without equipment.
If you would prefer to relax during your visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay, there are some extras that can be purchased to make your visit a bit more comfortable. These include floating beach mats, a beach bed (max of 4 guests), or a beach bungalow (max of 6 guests). Of course, if you really want to splurge, you can rent one of the cabanas located throughout the island (max of 8 guests). Currently, cabanas are available at the Thrill Waterpark, Chill Island, and Oasis Lagoon.
Have you visited this newly transformed private island in the Bahamas yet? What are your favorite Perfect Day at CocoCay Shore Excursions? Drop us an anchor below to tell us what you love about Royal Caribbean’s island of CocoCay.
For our Symphony of the Seas cruise out of Miami, we flew down to Florida the evening before to avoid any travel delays. Over the years, we have learned to play it safe and add a pre-cruise travel day to our itinerary. Given its location and upscale furnishings, we decided to book our pre-cruise hotel stay at the Kimpton Epic. Being fans of this brand, we were eager to see if this Miami location lived up to our expectations. See why we would easily return to this hotel in Miami, FL in our Kimpton Epic Hotel Review.
Kimpton Epic Hotel Review
Arriving at Kimpton Epic Hotel
Along with being fans of the Kimpton brand, we were drawn to this hotel given the online ratings. It was rated as one of the top hotels in the city in 2018! Plus, the location had the potential to give us a view of the cruise ships in the morning.
Comparing prices and options, we booked the hotel directly on the company’s website at the refundable rate, just in case we needed to cancel the reservation for any reason.
Unfortunately, we could not find a great flight down to the city. So, flying out late afternoon, we arrived at the hotel around 9:30 pm. Arriving on a Friday night meant the hotel was busy with events and other travelers having a good time.
Checking into the hotel took only a few minutes. The main lobby is massive but with a rather simple and minimalistic design.
For our room, we booked the Waterview King Premiere. This was a slight upgrade when compared to the lowest priced king room category, the Cityview room.
Upon entering the room, we were surprised by the amount of space and open design. According to the website, the room is 475 square feet. This would be twice the size of the balcony cabin that we would be staying in on the ship.
The décor of the room was rather muted with mostly neutral tones. This was somewhat unexpected as Kimpton hotels usually have a more trendy design.
Still, we welcomed the ability to spread out. Using the desk to charge our technology and the ample space to store our luggage, we still had more than enough room for two people.
The bathroom was equally as large, and made it very easy to breeze through our morning rituals the next day as we prepared to board the ship. The in-room toiletries coupled nicely with the waterfall shower head.
The king-sized bed and plush linens provided the ideal conditions for a perfect night sleep. Although, we could hear some music from the outdoor pool party happening below us.
Having our balcony overlook the marina and the cruise port meant that we had a bird’s eye view of the cruise ships docked in port the next morning. There, we could see our vessel, Symphony of the Seas.
The Amenities at Kimpton Epic Hotel
The amenity fee grants travelers access to the fitness center, the pools, and includes complimentary newspaper delivery.
There are two restaurants at Kimpton Epic including the rooftop, waterfront dining at Area 31. The hotel also offers a pretty typical spa with fitness classes available.
Like other Kimpton resorts, the hotel hosts a nightly wine reception. Given our schedule, we missed this social hour. Although, we did take advantage of the water and coffee available in the lobby on the morning we checked out.
During our stay, we did not get to swim in the Rooftop Pools on the 16th floor, but we did get to experience the outdoor pool party for a bit. Surprisingly, there was decent crowd of people here.
Even if it doesn’t top the list of the trendiest parties in the city, the pool party overlooking the marina and cruise port was an added benefit of staying at the hotel.
This boutique brand definitely lives up to its reputation with the Kimpton Epic Miami. As the name implies, the hotel is quite large. The public areas are well laid out, and the brand’s hallmark accommodations shined during our one night stay at the property, even if it did feel a bit more commercialized than other Kimpton resorts.
For those traveling on a cruise, Kimpton Epic is a nice hotel choice that won’t break your budget. The room was comfortable, spacious, and functional. We wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again in the future.
Like many cities, the parking fee is quite hefty though ($44 a night for valet), so it is not ideal for travelers looking for “park and stay” accommodations near the cruise port.
Before you book a room at this hotel, we recommend that you sign up for the IHG rewards program. Now that Kimpton is part of this brand, membership in the rewards program comes with some added benefits. These benefits include basic WiFi on all devices, and higher tiered members even receive bar and spa credits at the hotel.
Have you stayed at the Kimpton Epic Hotel in Miami, FL? What are your picks for best hotels near this popular cruise port? Drop us an anchor below with your review of this metropolitan hotel.
We are back! The Princess and I have just returned from our three-day weekend cruise on Navigator of the Seas. While Navigator of the Seas is an amazing ship, we primarily booked this last minute getaway to experience first hand the brand new Perfect Day at CocoCay. Having read the reviews, we couldn’t wait any longer to visit the island. Did it live up to our expectations? We breakdown our entire day exploring all the island offers in our honest review of Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Before even getting to the island, you can review everything there is to do on Perfect Day at CocoCay on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner. This makes planning your trip easier and allows you to pre-book excursions.
For this trip, we wanted to experience the two most thrilling features at the new Perfect Day CocoCay. Luckily, we scored an amazing 30% off deal for a combo Zip Line and Thrill Waterpark ticket. In fact, we ended up paying just $10 more than the cost of a full day water park pass. Now that is a deal!
Pricing for these activities is dynamic as well. So, if you are looking to purchase a big-ticket item, like one of the Cabanas, we suggest you do so as early as possible. Over the span of a month, the prices went from around $500 to over $1,000. Of course, if you happen to find a lower price, you can always get an adjustment.
Navigating Perfect Day at CocoCay
Good-bye tendering! The pier at the island has been open for several months now, and cruisers can now utilize the direct pathway to the island. Docking appeared seamless as Navigator of the Seas turned around and slowly edged herself towards the pier.
We were docked for about an hour before being officially cleared. This gives the staff time to unload supplies. So, there we were staring at the beautiful island and unable to explore!
The island’s facade is truly breathtaking. Some critics might lambaste the new entrance as being a bit theme park-like in design. For us, the large sign, water geyser feature, and colorful appearance were welcoming.
We found maneuvering around the island to be easy with the new paved walkways and design which basically makes a large circle around the attractions. Royal Caribbean also provides you with a map as well as signage around the island.
Soon after 8 am (our stated arrival time), the announcement was made that we could now walk off the ship. If you know us, this was our cue to head to the gangway and start exploring.
Perfect Day at CocoCay Beaches
The beach areas received minor updates. After all, they were pretty much already ideal in the first place. The new area referred to as Chill Island is essentially the main area of the “old” CocoCay. Travelers who have visited the island before will recognize the setup as it remains relatively intact. New pathways and dining facilities have been added for convenience.
As you cross the bridge into Chill island, you may recognize some of the older buildings and areas. The newly named Chill Beach appears to have received some cosmetic work giving it a much smoother and attractive coastline along with some new beach loungers and umbrellas.
As you continue to follow the shoreline, you come across more familiar areas, inducing the Chill Cabanas. Along with new dining (Chill Grill), there are also updated restroom facilities. Existing buildings like the Straw Market, Wacky Seagull Bar, and the Shore Excursions hut don’t appear to have changed much either.
As you continue along the shore towards South Beach, there is a new sports area including a beach volleyball court, several lawn games, a small basketball court, and a nice beanbag style seating area.
Further down the coastline you will find the Floating Bar and South Beach which appears mainly unaltered as well. The beaches just seem to go on forever. With only one ship in port, the island felt rather quiet and uninhabited. Which is a good thing! The beaches were also very clean and provided ample shade with the addition of the new umbrellas.
By the end of 2019, a stretch of this area will also be home to the new Coco Beach Club featuring over water cabanas and an exclusive restaurant. We did not see any construction or signs of these new structures being put into place just yet.
More centrally located on the island is the new Harbor Beach. This protected beach area is perfect for kids and provides plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas as well. There is also a small water feature.
Dining on Perfect Day at CocoCay
To ensure individuals stay on the island as long as possible, Perfect Day at CocoCay has seen a serious improvement in the food and beverage program.
For us, this was a very welcomed and tasty update. The island’s new Snack Shacks are exactly the type of venue that we have been looking for on a cruise. A fantastic alternative to the buffet, these strategically placed venues serve a limited menu of hot and fresh light bites. Among our samplings were the Shack Burger, the Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Fries, and the funnel cake, which were all quite good.
Still, if you are looking for more diversity, there are two huge dining areas to satisfy your appetite. The Chill Grill and Skipper’s Grill are both large buffet style venues with plenty of food offerings. With one ship in port, there were no lines or waits.
The menu is the same at both venues. There are the standard hamburgers, hot dogs, and grilled chicken that were part of the original “barbecue lunch” on the island. Now, there is also a salad bar, a custom taco stand, and a sandwich section with paninis, steak sandwiches, and Cuban sandwiches.
During our trip, the buffet was open from 11 am to 3:30 pm. This is a marked improvement as previously, lunch was only served for an approximately two hour window. The snack shacks were even open an extra hour.
The island bars are a mix of classic favorites and a few new additions.
Among the biggest additions is the bar at the Oasis Lagoon. In fact, the whole Oasis Lagoon area is an expansive addition to the island featuring the Caribbean’s largest freshwater pool, plentiful loungers, music with a DJ, a swim-up bar, and a very lively crowd. While we didn’t really get to enjoy the Oasis Lagoon this time around, it looked like a blast.
For those who want to relax on land, one side of the Oasis Lagoon bar also has tables with umbrellas.
The other big addition to the bar line up on Perfect Day at CocoCay is Captain Jack’s. You can not miss this nautically themed bar as soon as you cross over onto the island from the pier. Offering a few different cocktails than the other bars on the island, the drinks here are also included in the Deluxe beverage package.
Unfortunately, the wings and fries are extra money even if you have the Unlimited Dining Package (though we were given conflicting information on this). We enjoyed our Beach Bum and Watermelon Rita drinks while chilling on the bar’s swings. This location also has some table top games and unique seating which makes it a great location to escape the sun for a while.
There are still plenty of other bar options spread throughout the island. These include Coconut Willie’s, the Wacky Seagull, and the Wacky Seagull Jr. bars. There is also the Floating Bar, which is a short walk (in water) from the coastline.
All of these bars offer a pretty standard menu of cocktails, beers, and wines. Unfortunately, there is no bar located in the Thrill Waterpark at this time.
Top Things to Do at Perfect Day at CocoCay
For our first trip to Perfect Day at CocoCay, we decided to test out the Thrill Water park. We are so glad we did!
The park features two towers. Splash Summit (the family tower) is home to some rather fun slides, including mat racers, the Slingshot boomerang slide, and a tube slide. We did all of these slides, waiting between 5 to 30 minutes for each ride. Of all these slides, we liked the Slingshot the best.
The more adventurous slides are located at the Daredevil’s Tower. Here is where you will find the tallest slide in North America. At over 130 feet, it is one thrilling plunge. This water slide is unlike anything you will find at a typical waterpark.
In addition, the tower has a drop slide and other faced paced slides that include a mix of digital lighting and special effects. I felt like a little kid all over again running back up the stairs to ride the slides again and again. Good thing I was not the only grown-up making this same pilgrimage.
The line for the Daredevil’s Peak can get quite long midday with wait times of 45-60 minutes. Though, we found the lines to be much smaller earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon. We also did not encounter much waiting for any of the other slides in this tower.
The Thrill Waterpark also includes a wave pool that mimics the motion of the ocean producing some impressive surges and an Adventure Pool for the younger ones to challenge their balance and coordination on the water obstacles.
We had no issues finding loungers with umbrellas in this area throughout the day. A nice touch is that there are free locker rentals, so you can secure your items while enjoying the rides without any worries.
Taking advantage of an amazing deal in our Cruise Planner, we booked the water park and zip line combo. When booking the zipline, you are required to select an exact time. We chose a morning time slot to give us the rest of the day to enjoy the waterpark.
While the zip lines were fun, they were not as exciting as the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line on Labadee, Haiti. Granted, the cost for the zip lines on CocoCay, which includes three separate runs, is a fraction of the cost for the one ride on the other private island.
Besides the Thrill Waterpark and the Zip Line, the Up, Up, and Away hot air balloon ride is the other major new attraction on Perfect Day at CocoCay. While we did not get to experience it during this trip, we certainly have plans to do so on a future visit.
Final Verdict on Perfect Day CocoCay Review
We can not overstate how much fun we both had at Perfect Day at CocoCay! The new island design is beautiful and well executed. The endless options allow travelers with different tastes to find a little slice of their own paradise.
Those looking for a chic, pool party atmosphere will love the Oasis Lagoon. It is something right out of a Miami or Las Vegas resort.
If you prefer a more peaceful day at the beach, Chill Island is where you will want to be. With a sea of lounge chairs, and nearby dining and drinking facilities, you can find an ideal piece of real estate for relaxing.
If you are looking for something in between, then maybe you’ll want to pull up a seat at the Harbor Beach. This puts you right between the quiet Chill Island and the Oasis Lagoon Pool, so you can bounce between both areas.
There is also South Beach which offers more beach front loungers located near the sports area and the Floating Bar. While this area has not been completely renovated yet, it still serves up a perfect beach day.
The Thrill Waterpark is a full day attraction itself. For the price we paid ($44.95 a person), we spent hours enjoying the amenities. Your key card works as your admission in to the park, so exiting and returning throughout the day was easy.
Both the Princess and I had such a fabulous time during our first visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay that we are already planning a return visit, perhaps as early as this summer!
Have you visited Perfect Day at CocoCay yet? What is your favorite new addition to the island? Drop us an anchor below to let us know your review of Royal Caribbean’s recently updated private island in the Bahamas.
Conveniently positioned on the banks of Elliot Bay, the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle has the feel of a mountain-side lodge. Within walking distance from Pier 66, this hotel is perfect for those taking a cruise from this downtown port area. Of course, the Princess had to twist my arm to book a room at this rather pricey hotel before our Norwegian Bliss Alaskan Cruise. However, after spending one night in this warm and woodsy room, I was ready to book another stay. Find out why it is worth the upgrade in our Edgewater Hotel Review.
Edgewater Hotel Review
A Departure from the Typical Hotel
The warm greetings start as your Uber ($38 from the Seattle airport) escorts you to the property. The inviting outdoor fireplace is your gateway to this luxury hotel.
The golden oak wood paneling and nature-inspired decor greet guests checking into the hotel. This is a stark contrast to the sleek lines and crisp details of many metropolitan hotels. Instead, a massive stone fireplace and earthy furnishings make this hotel lobby feel more like your friend’s living room.
Not to mention, the uninhibited views of the bay are the perfect backdrop to this extra ordinary public space.
The Edgewater Hotel fully embraces its Pacific Northwest location not only in decor and ambiance, but also with its amenities. In fact, the hotel invites travelers to explore the region’s outdoor spaces by providing bikes and even running shoes as part of the daily resort fee.
Given we had an early flight, our room was not yet ready when we checked in late morning. This gave us the opportunity to explore nearby popular attractions. Among the notable landmarks that are in easy walking distance are Pike Place Market, the Olympic Sculpture Garden, and the first Starbucks.
Having visited these landmarks on a previous trip, we decided to head a bit further east to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. By early afternoon, we received a call to inform us that our room was ready.
Rooms With A View
Staying at a hotel in such close proximity to the cruise ships, we opted for the Deluxe Waterfront King room. While many of the hotel’s 223 rooms do offer views, the most modestly priced Garden and City view rooms were not going to cut it for these crazy cruiser bloggers!
The 350 square foot rooms are certainly bigger than your typical cruise ship stateroom. These deluxe accommodations come fully equipped, including a balcony.
All rooms have a gas fireplace, which makes you just want to curl up with a good book. Luckily, there are separate sitting areas for the fireplace and the typical desk and chair combination.
While the room was more comfy than most hotels, it also featured several of your typical appointments like a keurig coffee maker, small refrigerator, and in-room safe that were rather standard.
The bathroom continues with the rustic theme offering a large, stone walk in shower and a vanity area that you would expect to find in a log cabin. The dark red color blends well with the other earth tones.
Outdoorsy yet comfortable, this room was probably the closest to camping as I will ever get the Princess.
After a long day of traveling, we were both glad to retreat to the plush bedding. It provided a very restful night sleep. Good thing we had our alarm set though, as the best part of the room is the view!
Yes, we had the perfect vantage point to watch Norwegian Bliss pull into port from our balcony. We were up early and eagerly awaiting the ship’s arrival.
Slowly edging into the bay, we finally caught sight of the ship around 5:15am. We watched as she docked, then returned to bed for a few more hours of sleep. Before checking out of the hotel, we were sure to grab some additional shots of the ship staring us right in the face!
As the only true waterfront hotel in all of Seattle, The Edgewater Hotel is a remarkable and unique hotel. This might be why the hotel has been frequented by musicians and entertainers, including the Beatles and Led Zeppelin during the bands’ heyday.
In fact, you can even book the Beatles Suite, where the band stayed during their 1964 visit to Seattle. Or, perhaps you’d prefer the Pearl Jam suite?
This music tradition lives on in the hotel today, as you can expect to find vocalists and musicians performing here during the weekend.
If you want to be the star of your own show, the hotel’s $25 a day amenity fee includes access to guitars and DJ equipment. The fee also includes a wealth of additional perks like internet access, fitness center, daily newspapers, and the aforementioned sports equipment.
The hotel’s restaurant and lounge, Six Seven, offers a distinct food and beverage program featuring local brews and an eclectic menu that might have you staying past happy hour. Between the food and the views, you may never want to leave.
Summary of the Edgewater Hotel Review
With an ideal location, a charming appearance, and well appointed rooms, the Edgewater Hotel is an easy pick for luxury accommodations near the Seattle cruise port. While the hotel pricing can be a bit steep, it was worth every penny to us.
After traveling across the country, the hotel and its staff made us feel right at home. The location provided us with the perfect vantage point to score amazing pictures of the cruise ships, as well as a short walk to the terminal in the morning.
The Edgewater Hotel combines its 65+ year history with the hipster vibe of Seattle to offer a luxurious yet casual feel. With just the right amount of modern flare and rustic charm, the hotel delivers an experience that makes for the perfect pre-cruise or post-cruise stay in the city.
Have you stayed at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle? Drop us an anchor below to share your review of this one of a kind hotel.
Royal Caribbean has recently begun updating ships in its fleet as part of the Royal Amplified project. The Princess and I cruised on Mariner of the Seas when the ship debuted last summer and loved the updates. So, how could we pass up a chance to sail on the most recently updated ship, Navigator of the Seas? The answer is- we couldn’t. We have just returned from three days of fun and sun and are happy to provide our feedback on the newly amplified ship in our latest Navigator of the Seas Ship Scorecard Review.
Navigator of the Seas Ship Scorecard Review
This was our second time departing from Royal Caribbean’s new Terminal A in Miami, FL. Similar to our first experience, getting checked in and through security was a breeze, taking no more than 10 minutes. Getting on and off the ship at our ports of call was also seamless, as security was efficient in processing passengers. We did self-checkout on disembarkation day which was scheduled for 7 am. Besides starting a bit behind schedule, this was the longest and most disorganized Royal Caribbean disembarkation that we have had in a long time. It took about an hour to snake our way around Deck 4. Luckily, Customs was a breeze, and our Uber request took only a few minutes.
As part of Navigator of the Seas’ amplification, the ship received a completely new Caribbean-inspired main pool area. This central outdoor space was well designed and executed. It is appropriately themed with just enough color and accents to give the area character but not be over the top. There are two pools and a small children’s Splash Pad. There is also ample seating including your typical loungers, some hammocks, daybeds, and shaded casitas. For adults, the Solarium has remained largely unchanged, offering a pool and bar reserved for those 16+. There was always plenty of chairs, bar service, and sun to be had on this new resort style pool deck during this weekend getaway.
The Voyager-class offers several of the same sports areas found on Royal Caribbean’s larger ships like a basketball court, rock climbing wall, and Flowrider. Navigator of the Seas also received two brand new, first at sea waterslides, including the headfirst mat slide Riptide and the Blaster aqua coaster.The waterslides and Flowrider were open everyday for a good amount of time, which allowed us to test out the new additions without much of a wait. There is also the newly spruced up Navigator Dunes mini golf course on Deck 13 for another family fun alternative.
This three-day weekend cruise included embarkation day in Miami and two ports of call in the Bahamas. Given most individuals got off the ship to explore in the ports of call, there were still a decent amount of daytime activities, including different themed trivia, movies on the pool deck, open skating in Studio B, and other cruise pastimes like the Belly-Flop Contest, shopping and port talks, and sponsored events from the Spa and Art Gallery. However, if you decide to stay on the ship, you will probably want to enjoy the outdoor spaces and sunshine like we did.
For the most part, service on Navigator of the Seas was friendly and prompt. Service is one area that can vary considerably from one venue to the next, but we would say the service was consistent during our trip. We did notice several officers visible on the ship, and a restaurant manager always came by to check-in on us during meals. Our excellent waiter Jamie at Jamie’s Italian (this was just a coincidence) was a standout staff member. Overall, service was better than some of our recent mega-ship experiences with the brand.
Main Dining Room
Not Applicable – We did not dine in the main dining room as we were testing out the Unlimited Dining Package on this cruise.
For this trip, we purchased the Unlimited Dining Package. We made good use of this program testing out virtually all of the up-charge restaurants, minus Izumi. Overall, the restaurants delivered with a solid mix of food and service. The wings at Playmakers remain my choice for best wings at sea. Our dinner at Jamie’s Italian was outstanding with great food and service. Chops Grille seared up one of the best steaks that I have had on a Royal Caribbean ship in a long time. Our dinner at Hooked Seafood was our least favorite of the trip with some good dishes and some not so good dishes. Even the Johnny Rockets Express had some fresh burgers, fries, and chicken fingers that were a welcomed snack. We would say the dining package was a good investment for this trip, especially since we got 30% off pre-cruise!
During the amplification, Navigator of the Seas received a rendition of El Loco Fresh on the pool deck. This casual quick serve restaurant was only open for lunch on this cruise. With offerings like tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, our meal was tasty. The nachos with the custom salsa bar was also an ingenious addition. Typical favorites like pizza, small sandwiches, and pastries were always available at Café Promenade. During peak times, like all aboard, there were long lines of fellow hungry passengers at these venues. While the Windjammer did receive a face lift, the food was pretty typical. Our breakfast was average at best, and we did not dine here for lunch or dinner. For a short cruise, the diversity of casual eats was adequate.
They really do try to cram as much as possible into these short cruises. In fact, we sometimes felt overwhelmed as there was no way we could fit everything into each evening. While there was certainly a large quantity of activities, the quality was hit or miss. Some of the musical acts felt dated. We missed the traditional piano player in the Schooner Bar, as the “improv comedy and music” was a bit of a let down. Hugo, the cruise director, had high energy and a quirky personality that certainly kept the crowds entertained. Events like the Crazy Quest and 80’s Party are always cruiser favorites. Of course, there was also karoake, game shows, and Bingo to keep everyone entertained.
Main Theater Entertainment
Did Not Meet Expectations
If there was one area where the ship fell short, it would be the main theater entertainment. The ship’s iSkate production in Studio B was entertaining but did not live up to the quality you find on the Oasis-class ships. The Welcome Aboard show and late night comedy featured the same comedian, who neither of us found all that funny. The signature production Showgirl was rather bland and felt like your stereotypical cruise ship entertainment. Lastly, the headliner on night 3 was a comedic juggler. His act was high energy and mildly amusing, but it would be our pick for best show if we had to choose.
Bars and Lounges
We really enjoyed the spruced up vibe of the new outdoor Lime and Coconut bar. The addition of Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade and the Bamboo Room injected new energy into the Royal Promenade. As for the rest of the typical Royal Caribbean bar lineup, it was hit or miss. While we are fans of the Schooner Bar and Boleros menus, our drinks were not well prepared at either venue. The R Bar is a spot that we actually miss on the newer ships, but this rendition was tired and in need of an update. However, the English pub delivered a wide beer selection and a solid acoustic guitar performer as always.
Using our credit card reward points, we booked one of the last balcony staterooms available. The spacious balcony stateroom, 9372, felt larger and roomier than our similar cabin on Mariner of the Seas last year. Actually, compared with our recent experiences in balcony rooms, it appeared more spacious than some of the newest and largest cruise ships. During the update, the room received some cosmetic touch-ups, including some new furniture, carpet, and accessories, though the bathroom remained a bit dated. There was also plenty of storage between the dresser drawers and closet. For the price, the room was perfect for this three night getaway.
We are going on another cruise! Yes, it seems like we have been saying that a lot in 2019. It has been quite the year for us with new ships, new experiences, and new destinations. In fact, this latest trip combines all of these elements into one short three-day weekend cruise. This quick getaway is planned to be packed with things to do, see, and eat. We can’t wait to test it all out. See what we have in store when we set sail on Navigator of the Seas this weekend!
Why We Are Excited to Sail on Navigator of the Seas
Brand New Outdoor Deck
Ever since the cruise line debuted the newly amplified Navigator of the Seas, the Princess and I have been wanting to get onboard the ship. The new Caribbean pool deck looks amazing. We can’t wait to take a dip in the expanded pool and catch some sun and fun in the new loungers. We are looking forward to testing out the two new waterslides on Navigator of the Seas as well. These include the first ever headfirst mat racer and an aqua-coaster with the longest stretch of slide suspended over the side of the ship. Two record-breaking slides on one vessel!
Toast to the Weekend
The recently enhanced Navigator of the Seas includes some serious upgrades to the bars and nightlife. We are really excited to test out the new Lime and Coconut pool bar. This outdoor venue looks like it will be packed day and night. We loved the Bamboo Room on Mariner of the Seas, so we are eager to grab a few more Polynesian beverages in this rendition of the lounge. Add on the Playmakers Sports Bar and Lounge, along with favs like the Schooner Bar, and things could get a bit tipsy! Good thing we booked the Royal Caribbean Deluxe Beverage package.
We know that one trip to Perfect Day at CocoCay will not be enough to experience everything that this island has to offer, but it’s a start. For this Navigator of the Seas cruise, we have plans to get plenty of photos, videos, and perhaps even a few live updates! Along with exploring the newly renovated island, we booked a shore excursion to test out some of the new features. The odds were in our favor, so we got a steal on a combo zip line and full-day waterpark pass, saving over 25%. We are sure that this visit to CocoCay will have us looking to book another cruise to the island ASAP.
Going All-In on Dining
With a great discounted price, the Princess was able to convince me to purchase the Unlimited Dining Plan. This program has recently been updated (see our video below for all the details), so we had been debating whether or not to test it out. Given all of the new dining options on the ship, we decided this cruise was the perfect opportunity. The one thing that we do not like about the plan is having to wait until we are onboard to make reservations. Still, we will see how it goes and report back our experiences with the plan. We are hoping to dine at Chops Grille, Hooked Seafood, and Jamie’s Italian for dinner, as well as a few lunch meals added into the mix.
All Details on Royal Caribbean's Unlimited Dining Plan - YouTube
It Was Free (Sort of)
Our Royal Caribbean credit card has come in handy quite often over the years. For this trip, we were able to take advantage of Cruise Reward Points and the current sale pricing. Adding on our Diamond balcony discount, this cruise on the newly amplified Navigator of the Seas cost us only slightly more than the fees and taxes per person. So, the cruise was basically free. Sure, we ended up adding on a few things, like the flights, a beverage package, the dining plan, and a shore excursion, but trading in the points cut the total cost of the trip by 60%. Not a bad deal!
Celebrity Solstice typically offers cruises to Australia and Alaska. Occasionally, the ship sails interim cruises between these two regions. So, when the Princess and I were looking to do something special for our 10 year anniversary, we came across a 10-night Hawaiian cruise onboard this ship. The itinerary included most of the same ports of call you find on other cruises in the region in addition to some extra sea days.
Having sailed on Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Eclipse in the past, we were very familiar with the class of ship. We also scored an amazing deal for a guaranteed balcony room with drinks, gratuities, and WiFi that was too good to pass up. We are now back from the trip and have plenty to share in our complete Celebrity Solstice Hawaii Cruise Review.
Celebrity Solstice Hawaii Cruise Review
Celebrity Solstice Ship Overview
Celebrity Solstice is the first of five ships in the Solstice-class. This 16 deck ship hosts a number of features that were distinct when the ship launched in 2008. Among the firsts at sea was the Lawn Club. Located on Deck 15, this open air deck with real grass features lawn games, the Sunset Bar, and even a Hot Glass Studio.
This ship doesn’t have distracting amenities like waters slides or other flashy public venues. Instead, Celebrity Solstice is a refined and elegant ship.
Still, she has plenty of enticing offerings to enjoy during your days at sea.
These include the adults-only Solarium where you can relax during the day and the Persian Garden Thermal Suite for some added relaxation and rejuvenation. The Sky Observation Lounge on Deck 15 forward offers great views during the day, along with activities like trivia. At night, the signature drink menu was a perfect compliment to the different night life occurring in the venue.
Celebrity Cruises is known for its dining. Celebrity Solstice boasts several casual dining spots including our favorite Cafe al Bacio, a main dining room with daily 3 course meals, and 4 specialty restaurants. So, there are plenty of options for everyone. Not to mention, there are also a plethora of bars including the popular and lively Martini Bar.
Entertainment on the ship included two nightly shows, one early and one late, with a combination of theater production shows and headliner acts. Our favorite production show was Broken Strings. Other nighttime activities included live music throughout the ship. Our personal favorites were Lighthouse String Duo and a husband and wife acoustic duo Gilly and the Girl.
Celebrity Solstice Hawaii Cruise Review
Day 1 – Honolulu, Oahu
We flew in to Hawaii several days before our embarkation day in Honolulu. This gave us time to adjust to the six hour time difference, as well as explore the port of call. We highly recommend you take a few days ahead of your Hawaiian cruise to explore this island as well.
Among the highlights during our time in Oahu was our Grand Circle Tour with Roberts Hawaii. This tour featured several photo stops and visits at major island attractions like the Dole Pineapple Plantation, the North Shore, Hanauma Bay, the Byodo-in Temple, and the Kualoa Ranch. Having experienced this tour, we now have a better sense of the island for our return. We also spent a day visiting Pearl Harbor, enjoyed some relaxation on Waikiki Beach along with the famous hula pie at Duke’s, and spent an evening at the Paradise Cove luau.
On the morning of our fourth day in Honolulu, it was time to board Celebrity Solstice. We arrived at the cruise port around 11:40 am. With minimal lines, we were onboard slightly after noon. Our afternoon consisted of taking some photos and exploring the ship. It was like getting reacquainted with an old friend.
After a quick lunch, we were able to head to our room around 1 pm to unpack and settle in for this 10-day journey. With muster being scheduled for 5 pm, we had some time to grab drinks at the Martini Bar to begin our drink around the ship. We then headed up to the Lawn Club for one last look at Oahu.
Following the mandatory safety drill, it was off to dinner in the Main Dining Room. Here, we located our table for two at the back of the restaurant and met our waitstaff. Our waiter Evan and assistant waiter Grace were nice but not the most attentive servers that we have had on a cruise. Dinner tonight was rather basic, and we were able to get out in time to catch the second half of the game show True or False, held in the Entertainment Courtyard on Deck 4.
Given it was embarkation day, there was only one show this evening, a comedian named Steve Brenner. Prior to the show, we met our cruise director Lewis. He ended up being one of the best CDs we have had on a cruise. He was funny, charming, and very present throughout the ship.
As for the headliner, neither of us were a fan.
Even though we had a long day ahead of us tomorrow, we popped into Celebrity Central to see the Improv Comedy show. This was something different, and the duo of Marshall and Nancy from the Chicago Improv Association put on a great performance with plenty of help from the crowd.
Finishing up around 10:45 pm, we headed off to get some sleep for our first stop on the big island, Hilo.
Our first stop of the cruise was at the eastern side of the Big Island. Here, we booked a tour through Shore Excursions Group. Our tour operator was C Big Island Tours which escorted us around the island for close to 7 hours.
Our tour guide Steve was a wealth of information and was very passionate about sharing the island with us. He was fast paced though, so if you did not keep up with him, you could miss some valuable information.
Stops on this tour included Queen Liliuokalani Gardens, where Steve pointed out some of the unique trees of this Japanese-inspired park. We then stopped at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm for an hour long lunch break, followed by the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens to see award winning plants.
Most of our time today though was spent at Volcanoes National Park. Here, we made several stops to admire and learn about the crater and last year’s eruptions.
The tour concluded with a few additional stops at Rainbow Falls and Richardson’s Beach to gaze at the black sands and admire the massive turtles calling this shoreline home.
Back onboard the ship by 5:30 pm, we both needed some coffee stat! A stop at Café al Bacio was certainly in order.
Prior to the cruise, we had made dinner reservations for 7:30 pm in the Tuscan Grille specialty restaurant. Changing up for dinner, we were down to the restaurant about 15 minutes early.
To our surprise, the restaurant was relatively quiet, with perhaps only 8 occupied tables. Dinner was delicious! We sampled a variety of items including the antipasti platter, calamari, chicken parmesan, the gnocchi, and of course limoncello cheesecake.
This feast lasted about 90 minutes, so we made it to the show by 8:45 pm. While busier than the first night, we still found some decent seats on the portside of the theater.
Tonight was the first production show entitled Rock City. It was certainly a more modern show with music from Aerosmith, Green Day, Lady Gaga, AC/DC, and other bands. This performance ended right around 9:45 pm.
Luckily, we were able to snag seats at the Passport Bar on Deck 3 following the show. This allowed us to grab our second round of drinks for our drink around the ship. It also provided ample viewing for the Silent Disco party occurring in the Grand Foyer.
Don’t think for a minute that the Princess actually danced! Instead, we just drank and people watched. That is an equally entertaining pastime. We decided to call it a night around 10:45 pm, so we could get some shut eye before our highly anticipated shore excursion tomorrow.
Day 3 – Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
On Day 3 of the cruise, we stopped on the western side of the Big Island. Here, we ventured off on our most anticipated tour of the trip. A Big Island Spectacular Helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters.
While we had many memorable moments this cruise, our helicopter tour over the volcanoes was truly unforgettable.
The tour was scheduled to meet for 9:30 am at the pier. Up at 7 am, we grabbed some lattes and small bites at Café al Bacio prior to our departure.