A Little Bit Of What You Fancy Does You Good

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Day 1

Finally it was time for our next adventure. We woke up to some shock news and spent some time discussing the possible repercussions this may have in terms of our holiday from possible riots to volatile exchange rates. We then got up and had a cup of tea while getting ready. Once we were done, we had a last check around the apartment, turned off all the power and the water supply and headed out.

Like so many times we are leaving for a trip, the weather was truly awful. It looked like the end of the world when we stepped out of our building. Still, we got lucky and it did not actually rain during our short walk to the station. It did start raining again as soon as we got there, though. We had our tickets printed out and had time to get a quick coffee. The line at Starbucks was pretty long and we decided to play it safe and took our coffee to go. Graham had an Americano and I had a Toffee Nut Latte. This turned out to be a wise decision. They have installed ticket gates at our station fairly recently and people were caught out by this. So that delayed us a little. Our train then ended up being parked in front of two other trains so that needed some extra time, too.



We were lucky that our seats were near a luggage rack so we did not have any issues with storing our luggage. With this out of the way, we could sit back, relax and enjoy our coffees. The train left on time and the journey was nice and smooth. I spent the train journey reading and catching up online. We arrived in Southampton early afternoon and pretty much on schedule.

We ended up staying at the Premier Inn this time round. I had hoped to stay at the Holiday Inn right at the port where we had stayed in 2009 again, but this time round the prices were astronomical. The prices at the Premier Inn were about a third. We have stayed at a Premier Inn in Dubai many times, but had not stayed at a “Purple Palace” in the UK before. The choice worked out perfectly. It was a short walk from the station and an even shorter walk to the port. We had to navigate a building site to get there, but that was no issue either. We checked in and at least on the inside, it was every bit as purple as I am used to. On the outside, it was somewhat non-descript.

We checked in, which was done on machines, but there was a member of staff available to help with this. The process was quick and smooth. Soon we were on our way to our room for the night. We quickly dropped off our luggage and then we decided it was time to get something to eat as we still only had a cup of coffee each.





I suggested that we head for Ikea, which is very close to the hotel. This ended up being one of the most unusual starts to a holiday. First of all, it was time for lunch though. I really like their meatballs and this was precisely what we had. Graham had meatballs with cream sauce, lingonberry jam and mashed potato and I went with meatballs with cream sauce and fries. I also had some sparkling elderflower drink. We had a pretty good view over the port. There was one cruise ship in port that day. I was starting to get really excited.





Once we had finished our late lunch, Graham suggested that we may as well have a look around Ikea as we were there anyway. I agreed with this assessment. I was drawn to the kitchen department. There were a number of kitchens that I quite liked and then I came across my dream kitchen. I have never really been happy with our kitchen and we always intended to replace it. In May, we will have lived in this apartment for 10 years so it really is high time to do something about this. We have decided to visit our local Ikea in the new year to order this. I would never have dreamed that we would choose a new kitchen on the first day our holiday.



We continued our tour around and picked up some more inspiration. One the living rooms they had set up had the seating area on a wooden platform. This appeared to be only for display purposes, but this worked really well and would be perfect for our apartment. We have very high ceilings and a huge open plan living space. Having the elevated seating area would break up the space, add interest and provide some more storage space. It was definitely a productive afternoon.

We had a look at the shopping centre next door, but nothing really captured our interest and then we headed out into the actual city centre. They were setting up for the Christmas market. I was amused that the gate in the old city walls had a reindeer-pulled sleigh attached to it. We stopped at a supermarket and got some wine for the cruise. We were going to head back to the hotel via the city walls, but the access was closed. So we backtracked and headed back to the hotel.



When we got back to the hotel, we both had a coffee in the hotel bar before heading back to our room to relax for a bit. Graham had a nap and I read my book. About 6:45, I woke up Graham. We freshened up a little and went downstairs. Graham’s sister lives near Southampton and we had arranged to meet for dinner. They were going to pick us up at 7:00. We waited and waited and finally my brother in law turned up just before 7:30. It later transpired that Graham’s sister had sent him an email advising him of the new meeting time, but he did not see this until we got back to the hotel later in the evening.

We drove a short distance and ended up at a restaurant called The Oxford Brasserie. My heart sank. The menu looked quite pretentious to me. However, in the end, I found something for each course that I liked the look of. Our nephew and his partner had joined us as well. Graham had a beer and then just had a single course. He went with the Ribeye Steak with grilled tomato, fries and dressed watercress. The rest of us all had three courses. I started with tomato and five-bean soup with pancetta and sourdough croutons, which may well have been the best soup I have ever tasted. I then had chicken breast with mushroom Duxelles and potato and bacon cannelloni, which was washed down with a glass of white zinfandel. Even though I had not been sure about this dish, it was utterly delicious. For my dessert I had Mojito mousse with lime sponge, mango and pineapple salsa, black sesame Tuile and coconut sorbet. This was just a riot of flavours and so good.







We had a lovely evening with nice food and even better company. There were a few points during that evening when I was literally laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my face. Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end and all too soon, it was time to say goodbye. Graham’s sister and her husband dropped us back at the hotel. We both got caught up online and then Graham got ready for bed. I was not particularly tired at that stage so I read for about 45 minutes before getting ready for bed myself.
 

Flossbolna

Sea days are just so relaxing!
Joined
Sep 8, 2006
I am here!!

How funny that you ended up at IKEA of all places for your first meal on vacation AND nearly bought a new kitchen! Hope all goes well with ordering it back home. I once had an IKEA kitchen and liked the value of it. Yes, you cannot get all the bell and whistles of a Poggenpohl kitchen. But you also only pay a fraction of it. I moved once with it and it was in use for 13 years. I only got rid of it as the landlord wanted to get the kitchen back empty and the new place had a kitchen. So, I can attest that it holds up well. I was just not in love with the appliances at IKEA.

The evening with the relatives sounds great! It is always good to have family that you can laugh with!

I am looking forward to read about the ship itself!
 

tiggrbaby

<font color=deeppink><marquee>We must work harder
Joined
Jun 26, 2004
Yay! Another Corinna trip report! Sounds like it was a relaxing start. How nice that you were able to have an evening with family. Make sure you post before and after pics of you kitchen!
 
  • franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    Nice first day. It seems odd that one would get a kitchen from IKEA as here in the states, IKEA has a bad reputation for things that you build yourself and really don't hold up well. In fact they are very difficult to put together properly (at least for us unskilled Americans). I didn't know that they offered appliances as well.

    Nice that you got a bit of a nap before going out with family. Nice that you enjoyed the time with them. I'm not so sure that would be the case with my family.
     

    Paula Sedley-Burke

    Proud to believe in Rainbows and Unicorns...
    Joined
    Nov 20, 2008
    I'm here Corinna! Great start. That UK rain... Glad it wasn't too bad. We love the purple palace! Prices you can't beat. Clean. Nice staff. Usually coffee bar and restaurant.

    Glad you got to Southampton ok. What a good idea to go to Ikea for luncheon! I love their kitchens that one looks amazing. Problem with Ikea is getting out.. It's like a Casino in Vegas.. No windows or doors or exit signs...

    Dinner with family looked great. What a nice place. Those dishes all looked like winners.

    Yeah to a great start!
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I am here!!
    Welcome on board.

    How funny that you ended up at IKEA of all places for your first meal on vacation AND nearly bought a new kitchen!
    I do love their meatballs and Ikea was close. The kitchen part was a little unexpected.

    Hope all goes well with ordering it back home.
    That is proving a little difficult. They don't seem to have that kitchen at our local Ikea.

    I once had an IKEA kitchen and liked the value of it. Yes, you cannot get all the bell and whistles of a Poggenpohl kitchen. But you also only pay a fraction of it. I moved once with it and it was in use for 13 years. I only got rid of it as the landlord wanted to get the kitchen back empty and the new place had a kitchen. So, I can attest that it holds up well.
    That is good to know.

    I was just not in love with the appliances at IKEA.
    What was wrong with the appliances?

    The evening with the relatives sounds great! It is always good to have family that you can laugh with!
    Graham's sister and her family are a hoot.

    I am looking forward to read about the ship itself!
    I will get going on this part on Thursday.

    Sounds like it was a relaxing start.
    Yes, it was a nice day.

    How nice that you were able to have an evening with family.
    We don't see them often enough unfortunately as we live at opposite ends of the country.

    Make sure you post before and after pics of you kitchen!
    I will do.

    It seems odd that one would get a kitchen from IKEA as here in the states, IKEA has a bad reputation for things that you build yourself and really don't hold up well. In fact they are very difficult to put together properly (at least for us unskilled Americans). I didn't know that they offered appliances as well.
    When we moved here, we got quite a lot of stuff from Ikea. Most of it is still going strong.

    Nice that you enjoyed the time with them.
    They are really nice down to earth people.

    I'm here Corinna!
    Welcome on board.

    That UK rain... Glad it wasn't too bad.
    We should be well used to this in Manchester.

    We love the purple palace! Prices you can't beat. Clean. Nice staff. Usually coffee bar and restaurant.
    I love staying there in Dubai. Here in the UK other chains are often cheaper, which is why we never stayed in a purple palace in the UK before.

    What a good idea to go to Ikea for luncheon!
    I love their meatballs.

    I love their kitchens that one looks amazing. Problem with Ikea is getting out.. It's like a Casino in Vegas.. No windows or doors or exit signs...
    Our local one is OK, but the one in Southampton was like this.

    Dinner with family looked great. What a nice place. Those dishes all looked like winners.
    I was positively surprised after the initial shock at the menu wore off.

    Corinna
     

    Malia78

    Flotsam and Jetsam
    Joined
    Apr 30, 2012
    Hi Corinna,
    Sounds like a relaxing first day with a delicious meal and fun company to top it off.
     
  • Pinkocto

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2011
    I'm here :) I must come back and read, looking forward to hearing about this trip!
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Day 2

    After not having slept particularly well the previous two nights as I was so excited about the trip, I was surprised that I actually slept the night through and only woke up about 5 minutes before our alarm was due to go off. We got up and took turns to get showered. Once we were both ready, we headed down for breakfast. It was nice to see a bunch of luggage with Royal Caribbean tags when we came downstairs. This made this feel a lot more real.

    Breakfast was quite a nice buffet. We both had some orange juice. Graham had a filter coffee and I had a double espresso. Graham started his breakfast with fruit salad and yoghurt whereas I chose pancakes with raspberry compote. There was no whipped cream, but I would make up for this later in the trip. We then both had a cooked breakfast. Graham had a fried egg; bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomato and I went with a fried egg, sausage, baked beans, and hash browns. We took our time over breakfast. It was still early and I had realized the evening before just how close we were to the port. There was a larger group of cruisers on the table next to ours and it was fun listening to their plans. It turned out during the cruise that they were the team that I had joined for progressive trivia. If I had known this, I would have gone over to introduce myself.

    Once when had finished our breakfast, we headed back to our room. We slightly reorganized our luggage. I attached our luggage tags and we both signed the paperwork. I got caught up online. I was very surprised that I had an updated confirmation invoice from Royal Caribbean. It turned out that this was for our April cruise and they had now assigned us a hotel in Sydney. We are staying at the Mercure in the city centre for one night. I read for a bit and shortly before 11:00 we headed out.

    We did not have long to wait until we got the first look at the ship. There was a building between the hotel and the port, which blocked the view from the hotel. This building contains the UK offices of Carnival. However, once we had walked round the corner, we could clearly see our ship. I was so excited. She looked beautiful. After I took a few photos, we pushed on towards the port. We ended up crossing the car park of the Holiday Inn where we stayed in 2009. Since then, the port in Southampton has changed quite a bit.





    When we were on port property, we passed some people with DCL carry ons. This made me smile. We pushed on towards the terminal and that looked completely different. In 2009, you dropped off the luggage before you even got to the terminal. This time round, we were at the terminal before we found where to drop of the luggage. We entered the terminal and this had been renovated since and looked stunning. We had our ESTAs checked and then we were directed outside to drop off our luggage. With this taken care of, we went back inside and got in line for security. The line was pretty impressive, but they kept this moving. It only took about 10 to 15 minutes before we were in the check in hall. There we got directed to a check in desk straightaway. I filled out our health questionnaires. There was a slight technical issue, but this was resolved soon enough and we were handed our SeaPass cards and directed towards the ship. When we got our cruise documents, they provided suggested check in times by deck. Ours was 15:15. I am glad that we went to check in as soon as we could as things looked much busier later in the day.



    We headed towards the ship. We stopped for the embarkation photo. The photographer tried to give us a card with some kind of discount for the first night and I told him that this ship had sailed and that I had pre-purchased the photo package. We had our photo taken and then moved on. I was quite surprised that there was another photo opportunity just before we got to the gangway. There was one of the photography team dressed up as a Beefeater. So we stopped there, too. Then it was finally time to get on the ship.







    There was a short line at the gangway. I was so excited about getting on the ship that I ended up counting the steps until I would actually be on the ship. Then it was our turn to get on the ship. They had set up terminals to scan the SeaPass cards on the promenade deck. I am not even sure what caused the holdup as there were plenty of terminals and we did not have to wait at all. What I saw when I stepped inside took my breath away. I know that DCL strives towards the feeling of a classic ocean liner and although I think their atriums have a definite wow factor, the Navigator does this somewhat better. We had a look around on deck 4 and were even able to peek into the dining room, which reminded me of Titanic. Then we headed up to the pool deck. After a look around, we settled in the solarium.

    The solarium on the Voyager class ships is strange. On our two previous cruises, the solarium was completely enclosed. On the voyager class ships, the pool is open air, but most of the loungers, the hot tubs and the bar are under cover. I can imagine that this set up is pretty nice for warm water cruising, but for our cruise, this was not great. The area still looked stunning and we were blessed with a mild day. We walked past the bar and Graham had some water. I was happy to see orange Fanta behind the bar so I had a glass of this. This was disappointing as it was either the still version or it had gone flat. We found some loungers near the picture windows and settled down. I made good use of the fact that I was still in the UK and shared some photos on Facebook and generally got caught up online. At some stage I decided to do the spa tour. Graham was quite happy where he was so I headed upstairs by myself.







    On the way I had a quick look at the gym and more specifically at the hot tub that is in that area. I had read before the cruise that this is rarely used. This is one of the largest hot tubs, I have ever seen. It is also a bit of a goldfish bowl. The hot tub is surrounded by glrtitions and is in plain view of the gym. I was not particularly bothered by this and made plans to make good use of the hot tub.*** paI then headed upstairs. There is a spiral staircase near the hot tub that leads up to the spa. This was a lovely bright area. I was offered a spa tour pretty much as soon as I stepped foot in the reception area. This is where the positive feeling ended. We walked past the rhassoul room and I voiced an interest in this and was just blanked. I tried again with the same result. At that point I gave up. I was then handed a price list and got rather excited as it had price on it for a thermal suite. I did not think that Voyager class ships had this and I thought that I would really enjoy this on a cold weather cruise. When I asked about this, I was told that they don’t have a thermal suite on this ship. Then why on earth t was on the price list. All in all, the experience was less than magical. I figured that was one less thing I had to budget for as after my experience during the spa tour, I no longer fancied getting a spa treatment. I did get a quick complimentary neck and shoulder massage though.



    I headed back to join Graham and we chilled out for a bit longer. Just before ‪1:30, we headed down to deck 2, as the cabins were due to be ready by then. The doors to the stateroom corridors were still closed, but there is a nice seating area on deck 2 forward. I found a seat and Graham went to find a bathroom. By the time he got back, the doors had been opened. We went to check out the cabin and to drop off our hand luggage. I took a few photos and picked up my souvenir cup that came with the soda package. I also checked our excursion tickets and if we had confirmation of our reservations for the specialty dining package that we had booked. As far as the excursion tickets were confirmed, for some reason, we had two lots. I also noticed that our Try Dive had been changed from the first sea day to the last sea day. I was pretty happy with this. There was nothing about the specialty dining package. We had pre-purchased a 4-night package. The way this works is that you chose a time and day for your first reservation. This has to be either on the first or second night of the cruise. They will then make you a courtesy reservation for that evening, which can be at any of the specialty restaurants on the ship. You can then make the rest of the reservations once you get on the ship. So I was surprised that there was nothing in the cabin and put this on my mental to do list for the afternoon.





    Then we headed up to the Windjammer to get some lunch. On the way we were intercepted by the Beefeater and a photographer and we happily stopped for some more photos. Then we headed inside the Windjammer. It was pretty busy, but it did not take us long to find an empty table by the windows. There were still some dirty dishes, but a crew member arrived at around the same time we did and cleared the table. So that worked very well. Graham had some ice tea and I had some kiwi and strawberry water. Unfortunately they did not have the mango water on the Navigator that I had enjoyed so much on the Splendour and the Ovation. Graham had a first plate of grilled fish, vegetables and bread. He then went back and had some Chicken Tikka Masala and rice. I had one plate of savoury food. I went with steak fries, chili beef, chili beans, fried onions and hot dog sausage. This was a bit of a mixed bag. The steak fries were delicious, but the chili beef was too salty for my taste. Graham had a it a number of times later in the cruise and loved it, which makes me think this was just down to me being oversensitive to salt. I then decided to get some dessert. I chose a red velvet cupcake and some marble pound cake. I have to say, the desserts have not improved. Graham had some banana and blueberry pudding with custard, which he really enjoyed. As my dessert was not a hit, I got some vanilla and chocolate swirl soft-serve ice cream, which hit the spot. That is one thing I really like on the Navigator. They have an ice cream station on the pool deck like any other ship that we have been on, but they also have two soft-serve ice-cream machines inside the Windjammer. This was nice for two reasons: due to the weather, the ice cream station on the pool deck was closed the whole cruise and it gave you the option to add some ice cream to dessert.











    While we were having lunch, somebody came around to promote the specialty restaurants and especially the specialty dining packages. When she stopped at our table, I mentioned that we had pre-purchased a four night specialty dining package, but had not received a confirmation of the courtesy reservation in our cabin and therefore had no idea where we were due to have dinner in the evening. She advised that she would check this out for us. She came back not long afterwards and advised that she could see that we had purchased the four-night specialty dining package, but there was no reservation attached to it. She was only too happy to make us a reservation for Izumi for that evening and also a reservation for Chops Grill for my birthday. We advised that we would sort out the other reservations later in the cruise. I was pleased that we got this sorted. When I researched this before the cruise, Izumi did not really appeal to me and I was glad to get this out of the way.

    After lunch, we headed back to the cabin to relax for the short while until it was time for the muster drill. I even got treated to the Wash Your Hands video a couple of times. Once it started playing for the third time, Graham started to grumble and I switched off the TV. It was nearly time for the muster drill anyway and we decided to head off towards our muster station. This time round it made more sense in terms of our escape route and it took place on the outside decks. As muster drills go, this was pretty painless. Everybody lined up, the called out cabin numbers of people who had not been registered and then after a short wait, the cruise director made some announcements in relation to what procedures to follow in the event of evacuation. Then everybody was dismissed. Our assembly station leader was the grumpiest one I have encountered in our 18 cruises. I could hear the assembly station leaders at the adjacent stations introduce themselves. Ours did no such thing. Occasionally he was bellowing out instructions. I still have no clue what he was called. One of his assistants seemed very nice though. After the drill was dismissed, we stayed behind for a bit waiting for the crowds to clear. He spotted us and checked if we were OK. He was one of the ice skaters and from Canada. We saw him regularly during the cruise whereas we never saw our assembly leader again.

    Once the crowds had cleared, we went back to our cabin to pick up our cameras, an extra layer and Graham also picked up his telescope. We then headed back up to deck 4. The Voyager class ships have a really neat feature. They have a helipad on the bow, that is accessible most of the time. From the deck plans, it looks like this is on deck 4, but only the access is there. The actual helipad is on deck 5, as you have to go up two sets of stairs to get there. There were some people around, but I was surprised that it was not busier. We were treated to quite a nice sunset and it was a great location to watch the sail away. Once the sun had set, it started to get quite chilly. Graham does not feel the cold, but I most certainly do. We decided during this cruise that I must have some lizard DNA. Anyway, once we were clear of the port and out into the shipping channel, I headed back to the cabin. Graham stayed out for a bit longer. He got a visit from one of the officers from the bridge, who had spotted his telescope and was interested in this.







     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    In the meantime, I busied myself with the not so glamourous task of unpacking. Fortunately this did not take long. We were not quite as spoiled with storage space as we had been on the Ovation, but there was still plenty of storage space for both of us and I fully unpacked. I think this may be a bit more of a challenge in April. There was not a huge amount of hanging space. This time it did not matter as I had brought trousers, leggings and tops for the day and only dresses to wear for dinner. So most of my stuff went on shelves and into drawers. The cruise was only 13 nights as well. In April, with the cruise being 24 nights and it being a warm weather cruise, I will wear predominantly sundresses. So this may be a bit more of a challenge, but I am sure I will be able to make do.

    I had put out the gowns that I wanted to send for pressing, but could not find a laundry bag anywhere. So I went out in search of our stateroom host. We had not seen our stateroom host up to that point, which was kind of unusual. I could see a housekeeping cart in the corridor, but no evidence of any housekeeping staff anywhere. So I put our magnets on the door and then headed back to our cabin. I read for a bit and then checked for our stateroom host again. This time he was just coming down the corridor. I introduced myself and asked for a laundry bag, which he happily provided. I filled out the form that came with bag and bagged up the gowns. They only just fit. I left this on the bed and then spent some more time reading until it was time to get changed for dinner. Graham arrived back in the cabin shortly before we had to leave for dinner.

    Graham arrived back while I was getting changed. He changed from shorts to trousers and then he was ready. We then headed out for dinner. We crossed from forward to aft on deck 5, as the corridors do not go all the way through on decks 2 and 3. When we got to the aft elevator lobby, we noticed that there was a backdrop out by the dining room and a photographer with it. That was somewhat unusual, as they don’t normally do photos on the first evening. We were spoiled for photo opportunities on this cruise. They always had a backdrop by each entrance to the dining room. Quite often, they also had another backdrop somewhere on decks 3 or 4 and at least one photographer by one of the features of the ship like a staircase, the hanging sculpture or the bridge on deck 5. That evening they had two different backdrops with the ship: one during the day with fish and one at night. They also had a London backdrop and there was a photographer by the hanging sculpture. As we had left the cabin quite early, we had time to do the rounds of the photo opportunities before heading up to Izumi on deck 14.









    When we checked in at the podium for Izumi, they yet again had no record of a reservation for us. Fortunately this did not matter, as there was actually nobody in the restaurant. So they had no issues accommodating us. For most of our meal, we were by ourselves until we were just about ready to order dessert when a group of crew came for their dinner. Izumi was a huge surprise for me. As I said earlier, I was dreading it and just wanted it out of the way. I don’t eat fish or most seafood and the idea of sushi has always been a big turnoff. Unfortunately sushi is a big chunk of the menu and the alternatives for main courses did not appeal to me either. So I had to go with the least evil. First of all, we had to choose appetizers and there were some selections there that appealed to me. Instead of the bread service, we got Edamame beans sprinkled with kosher salt. I enjoyed those a lot.







    For his appetizer, Graham chose the Chicken Kara-Age, which is crispy chicken thigh meat, marinated in soy ginger mirin and served in Thai sweet chili sauce. This was one of the options that I had eyed. I went with the Pork Gyoza Dumplings with ponzu sauce. I started out with some Coke and Graham had some water. With our main courses, we both had an alcoholic drink. Graham had a Tsingtao beer and I had a Sake Margarita. I really liked this. Graham tried a sip and he did not like it at all.



    Our main course was a real revelation to me. Our server pointed out some cooked sushi selections to us and I decided to be brave. Graham had the Salmon Lovers’ Rolls, which consisted of salmon sashimi and avocado on top of crab asparagus rolls. I had the Surf and Turf rolls. They consisted of steak tataki on shrimp tempura roll. There was definitely some avocado in them, too, which I love. I could not believe what I was tasting. This was absolutely amazing and I loved every bite of this. I would even go as far that this was the second best meal we had during this trip. For dessert, we both went with the assorted Mochi ice creams, which consisted of vanilla, sesame and green tea mocha. I enjoyed this, but Graham was not quite so sure. On the whole, it was a very enjoyable dinner and a fitting start to our cruise.









    After dinner, we headed back to the cabin. We crossed over on deck 5 again and bumped into a roving photographer who offered to take some photos. We gratefully accepted. Then we went back to our deck. Graham went straight to bed. I read for a bit, checked the Daily Compass for the next day and updated my notes about what we had eaten that day and then I had an early night, too.

     

    tiggrbaby

    <font color=deeppink><marquee>We must work harder
    Joined
    Jun 26, 2004
    What an easy-on to the ship! Your sweatshirts are very cute! Glad that they had so many photo options for you. How strange about the spa; you would think that they would be better prepared.

    Your nails (at least the one in your ice cream photo) are pretty! I'm so glad that you ended up enjoying dinner. I don't care for raw protein either.
     
  • Paula Sedley-Burke

    Proud to believe in Rainbows and Unicorns...
    Joined
    Nov 20, 2008
    Yeah on the ship! Isn't she a beauty! Can't wait to sail on her in August!

    Good you got some sleep. Exciting when you see all the liggague at breakfast. Good for got to the terminal early which looks very nice.

    Shame about the spa reception you got.

    Maybe this ship does more Europe thus the covered bars and seats...

    Lunch sounded nice and yes please the soft serve on deck and inside.

    Great photis!

    Cabin looks roomy. Is it an inside?

    Dinner looked great. A new favorite I think. You both looked nice. Great first day!
     

    Pinkocto

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2011
    Great start to the trip.

    How nice to be able to get together with Graham's sister and husband. Dinner looked fabulous.

    Exciting to find a new kitchen. Were you able to order this to be done?

    Very strange and disappointing about the spa tour.

    Izumi sounds delicious. Glad it did not disappoint. Mom and I would have a hard time staying away.
     

    Malia78

    Flotsam and Jetsam
    Joined
    Apr 30, 2012
    Thanks for all the great details--everytime I read your reports I think "Corinna knows how to plan a cruise--I want sail with her" :goodvibes

    I'm glad the meal at Izumi turned out so well. I do not like sushi at all but I think I could find enough to eat there.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Your sweatshirts are very cute!
    I really liked how they came out.

    Glad that they had so many photo options for you.
    I was really spoiled on this trip.

    How strange about the spa; you would think that they would be better prepared.
    Well, this was their loss.

    Your nails (at least the one in your ice cream photo) are pretty!
    I really liked the nails that I had for the cruise.

    Isn't she a beauty! Can't wait to sail on her in August!
    The Navigator of the Seas is a gorgeous ship. You are in for a treat.

    Shame about the spa reception you got.
    I was really rather surprised about this.

    Maybe this ship does more Europe thus the covered bars and seats...
    All Voyager class ships are like this. That is just a quirk of that particular class.

    Cabin looks roomy. Is it an inside?
    This was an outside. The porthole was behind the bed. I do however believe that the insides are essentially the same size and layout.

    Dinner looked great. A new favorite I think.
    Definitely. I already made one reservation for our upcoming cruise and I am hoping that we will be able to have a couple of lunches there, too.

    How nice to be able to get together with Graham's sister and husband.
    It was lovely. We don't see them as often as I would like.

    Dinner looked fabulous.
    It was amazing.

    Were you able to order this to be done?
    This has gone on the back-burner for now. There is too much going on. Graham is however remodelling our bedroom at the moment. The back wall has been painted in a nice purple and the remaining walls will be a harvest yellow. The floor will be tiled with cork tiles.

    Very strange and disappointing about the spa tour.
    I am sure they must have lost a lot of business this way. I was not even motivated to go to the complimentary pamper party after this.

    Izumi sounds delicious. Glad it did not disappoint. Mom and I would have a hard time staying away.
    It was amazing. I never thought I would enjoy sushi,

    everytime I read your reports I think "Corinna knows how to plan a cruise--I want sail with her" :goodvibes
    Well, you never know. It may happen at some stage.

    I'm glad the meal at Izumi turned out so well. I do not like sushi at all but I think I could find enough to eat there.
    I never had the wish to try sushi, but this was amazing.

    Corinna
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Day 3

    We were awake by 8:30. In my case it was more like giving up on the idea of getting some more sleep. Normally I sleep like a baby on cruises. It was a little bumpy throughout the night. That does not usually bother me at all and even helps me sleep. However, this time the bumps were paired with loud banging noises. We were on deck 2 all the way forward and Graham thought that this was caused by the hull slamming against the waves. He had slept through all of this. I was not so lucky and had slept in fits and starts. So I was pretty happy when it was morning and time to get up.

    We got up and ready and headed to the Windjammer for some breakfast. It was quite windy and it was raining. Fortunately we did not have to be outside for very long. We had no issues finding a table. We both had coffee and orange juice. The quality of the Royal Caribbean blend had not improved, but the orange juice was also awful. I know that most of the juice on ships is made from concentrate and it tasted like they got the mix wrong adding too little water. The rest of the breakfast was nice though. Graham started with melon, peach, yoghurt and granola. I had some melon and pear. Then we both had some hot food. Graham chose turkey sausage, fried egg, bacon and mushrooms. I went with a more eclectic selection of pork link sausages, vegetable fried rice, Provençal tomatoes, biscuit and gravy and hash browns. The fried rice was not as good as on the Ovation and I never bothered again. The tomatoes however became a firm favourite.

    After breakfast, Graham suggested that we take a walk around the promenade deck. I agreed, but it was a little chilly for my taste. I headed inside once we had walked the length of the ship and told him I would wait for him. I used the time while I was waiting for Graham for a quick visit to guest services. I was a little concerned that after they had no record of a reservation last night, that the same would be true for the reservations I had made for My Time Dining. The line was pretty short. Unfortunately they did not have access to that information, which I found rather surprising. They referred me to the podium outside the dining room on deck 4, but there was nobody there at that time. So this went on the to do list for later.

    Once Graham got back, we briefly headed to our cabin to pick up Graham’s telescope and my iPad. Then we headed up to deck 14 for the Viking Crown Lounge. The Viking Crown Lounge is a feature of most Royal Caribbean ships apart from the Quantum class ships, that do no not have this space and the Oasis class ships where this space has been turned into the concierge lounge. The Viking Crown Lounge can be found on the highest deck and has floor to ceiling windows. It has a bar area, but more importantly, it has comfortable seating with a view. On the Navigator of the Seas, some of the space is taken up by Izumi and the Diamond Lounge and therefore the Viking Crown Lounge itself is not particularly big. It was pretty busy when we got there. Initially we only found some seats towards the back away from the windows. Shortly afterwards, a high table by the windows became available and we moved. I read and Graham watched the world go by. It was a lovely relaxing morning.

    We had the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle at 11:30 and shortly before this was due to start, I realised that I had forgotten to pick up the invitation. I told Graham that I would go to pick up the invitation and would meet him by the entrance of the Star Lounge, where the Meet and Mingle was due to take place. This is on deck 5 forward so going back to the cabin was only a minor detour.

    When I got back, I had a little bit of a surprise. There was a familiar face heading in the same direction. We had met on the Ovation in May at an aborted attempt of photo scavenger hunt and ended up chatting for quite a while as we are both big Disney fans. I was really surprised to meet him again although maybe I should not have been as he and his mother are avid cruisers and live near Miami. Initially he did not recognise me, but once I mentioned the circumstances in which we met before, the Penny dropped and we chatted for a short while until Graham turned up and we all headed inside the Star Lounge.

    It was pretty busy in the Star Lounge and we ended sitting with another couple. We were invited to come to the front to hand in our raffle tickets and collect our gifts. I was going to pass on the gift, but they have changed them since May and now it was a little notepad in a hard plastic cover with Royal Caribbean branding with a mini pen used to keep it closed. I figured that this may actually be pretty useful. The Meet and Mingle was hosted by the activities manager and the group coordinator. They both said a few words and then the raffle was drawn. We did not win anything. While the raffle was drawn, they came round with drinks. I had a sparkling wine and Graham had some red concoction. He had no idea what this was or if this contained alcohol, but he liked this well enough.

    Towards the end of the Meet and Mingle, the activities manager asked if there were any announcements. That worked out for me. There was only one announcement for coordinating a single’s table, but the announcement was made by somebody I was hoping to meet. We had chatted quite a bit in the run up of the cruise on the Ovation in May, but never got to meet on the ship. We again chatted online in the run up to this cruise and I was determined this time we would meet in person. So once she had made her announcement, I went over to say “hi”. She had quite a line and we did not get to talk much, but at least we had met in person now.

    The lounge emptied out pretty swiftly after this. I went over to my Disney partner in crime from the Ovation and his mother. They were staying on the Ovation until China and had a trip planned to Disneyland Shanghai. So I wanted to find out about this. Let’s just say, now I want to go even more. This sounds truly amazing although they had a lot of rain.

    When I got back, Graham showed no sign of moving. So I sat back down. I got my iPad out and read for a bit. Shortly afterwards, they started to set up for an art history lecture and we decided to stay for this. They still have an art gallery on board operated by Park West Galleries and the auctioneer hosted this lecture. I know that they have a bit of a reputation and I would not be inclined to buy art on a ship anyway due to the sheer logistics of then having to have it shipped to the UK, but I have to admit, the lecture was very interesting. This was an overview of art from the Renaissance to contemporary art, highlighting the key movements and the main players within each. This was used to promote other lectures and events, but she was knowledgeable and passionate about her subject and we both really enjoyed this.

    At the end of the lecture, they unveiled a sculpture by the artist Peter Max. I have to admit, I had never heard of Peter Max before, but this was love at first side. The sculpture was an acrylic angel that had been painted in very vibrant colours. During the cruise, I was able to see a lot more works by Peter Max and the more I saw, the more I fell in love. On the way out, we were given a nice print as "thank you" for attending.





    After the lecture, we headed up to the Windjammer for some lunch. Considering that it was already gone 14:00, it was very busy in there. We had to do a couple of laps around the Windjammer before we found a seat. Graham started with a plate consisting of salad, bread and roast lamb and then went back for some chilli cheese fries, which he loved. He washed his lunch down with some lemonade. I discovered the gluten free counter. I started with a plate of vegetable fried rice, chicken stir fry and dal. I then went back and got a plate with mashed potato, pork medallion and Mexican beef stew. Everything was delicious. We were sitting quite close to the bar so I went and got myself a Coke. For dessert, Graham had some rice pudding, which he loved. I stuck with the gluten-free theme and had a piece of flourless chocolate and almond cake. I normally don’t rate the desserts on Royal Caribbean, but this was divine. It was even tastier after I added some vanilla and chocolate swirl soft-serve ice cream.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    We had been debating if we should get some coffee, but there were still people looking for tables so we left. Instead, we decided to get some coffee at the Cafe Promenade. This turned out to be an excellent choice. Royal Caribbean Blend is about the most horrible coffee you will have the misfortune to taste. Still, we both need our coffee once in a while and if this is all there is available, we will just have to make do. I was absolutely delighted when I realised that the free coffee at Cafe Promenade is actually Seattle’s Best Coffee even though it is still served in urns that have Royal Caribbean Blend written all over them. The quality of the coffee was a difference like night and day from what is normally on offer. The coffee was nice and strong. After this, the Cafe Promenade got quite a few visits.

    When we had finished our coffee, Graham decided to go back to the cabin to unpack. I went with him and read my book. Once he was done with his unpacking, we had a bit of a nap. As I had not slept much the previous night, this was very welcome. I managed to sleep for a couple of hours. Graham was still asleep when I got up. I decided to let him sleep and to check out our photos from the previous day. On the way, I spotted that there were crew members at the podiums in front of the dining room on deck 5. So I took a little detour to check on our reservations. I was ably assisted by Ana from Palma de Mallorca, who could see all of our My Time Dining reservations and put my mind at rest. She even spotted that we did not have a reservation for the first day in New York.

    With this out of the way, I headed down to the photo gallery to check out the photos and to make sure that they had a record of my photo package. All the photos were present and accounted for and the photo package was registering as well. They were starting to set up for the photo opportunities for that evening and I realised that I would be seriously spoiled that evening. I headed back to the cabin. Graham was still asleep and there was no sign of my gowns that I had sent for pressing the previous evening. They should have been back by 17:30 and it was now later than that. I had a look if I could see our stateroom host around, but I was out of luck. I settled down with my iPad and read some more.

    Around 18:30, there was a knock and it was our stateroom host with my gowns. Fortunately I had made a later dinner reservation for that evening because of the Captain’s Welcome Reception. Most evenings, we had dinner at 18:30. The knock had woken up Graham and we both started to get changed for dinner. I was struggling with making up my mind which gown I should wear. I decided to go with the burgundy one that I was not entirely sure about. I put my hair up and put on some make up. We were both ready just before 19:00 and went upstairs.

    We had plenty of time to make the rounds of the photo ops. They had a white and a black backdrop, a backdrop with the ship at night, a backdrop with the Titanic staircase and a backdrop with the moon. On top of this, they had photo opportunities set up with the hanging sculpture from two different perspectives and one on the staircase. We managed to get all of them done before it was time for the Captain’s reception as at most of the photo opportunities there was just a bored photographer and if we had to wait at all, there was just one family ahead of us.

























    When we got back to deck 5, Captain Trond was already out. So we got in line. There were 3 couples ahead of us. Each Voyager, Freedom or Oasis class ship has a vintage car or motorbike on the Royal Promenade and this acted as backdrop for the photo. While we were in line, we were handed a glass of sparkling wine each. The sparkling wine was not flowing quite as liberally as on the Ovation or the Splendour here, but I was fine with this. We got our photo and then headed for the dining room. I was a little upset when I saw the photos the next day and the Captain’s photos are somewhat overexposed.



    I was not too sure what to expect with My Time Dining. There was a short line at the main podium, but they were quickly redirecting people to other podiums in the area to check in. We were asked if we wanted a table to ourselves or wanted to share. We told them that we did not mind and ended up on a table for two. It did not take long at all until it was our turn and we were very swiftly escorted to our table. Our serving team came to introduce themselves. Our server was from Thailand and our assistant server from the Ukraine. Bread was offered and we were asked for our drink order. I had a Coke and Graham just had water. After a short while to peruse the menu, our server came back to make some recommendations. We were ready to order at that stage. Graham had scallops in a herb and cream sauce with focaccia as his appetiser followed by roasted chicken with stuffing, vegetables and potatoes. I had the Caesar salad from the classic menu, which was delicious, but way too big for an appetiser. I then had Sirloin steak with morel sauce, mashed potatoes and vegetables. For dessert, Graham had cherry bake with vanilla sauce and I had the Chocolate Sensation with vanilla ice cream. Unfortunately, this was not as nice as it had been on the Splendour.















    Dinner was perfectly paced and we were out of the dining room in just over an hour. That was by far the quickest we had ever had dinner on a cruise, yet it did not feel rushed at all. I did warn Graham that I would ask him at the end of the cruise if he wants to stick to traditional dining for our April cruise or switch to My Time Dining. He told me to ask him at the end of the cruise, but he did not expect to change his mind. I was quietly relieved. Although dinner that evening had been a very positive experience, I was still very nervous of the concept of My Time Dining and much preferred the idea of having late traditional dining.

    After dinner, we headed back to the cabin. We were greeted by a towel bunny. We got ready for bed and I had a quick look at the Daily Compass. I had just spotted that there would be progressive trivia after all starting the following morning, when the phone rang. It was the person who had organised our quiz team. We arranged a meeting time 15 minutes ahead of the starting time and said goodnight. I read for a bit and then tried to get some sleep, which is easier said than done if the ship is making sledgehammer noises. Graham however was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

     

    kittymamma

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 18, 2012
    Just love Thursdays and Sundays when you post updates. Your gown is a scrumptious color and your lipstick is a perfect match. Enjoying the report so much , as always.
     



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