Before we start, a quick caveat. I have been on 14 RCL cruises and my wife has been on 7. We like Princess, then Celebrity, then RCL. I am in my late 30's and my wife is a tiny bit older. We live in South Florida. We enjoy RCL and overall this was a great cruise. Any negative comments contained hereunder are mostly nit-picking.
This trip was our first trip to Europe and we decided that a cruise would be a great way to travel and very cost-effective too, due to the strong Euro. This cruise was a seven day cruise round-trip from Barcelona. This trip was very "port intensive" with ports the first 6 days and only one day at sea at the end. Ports visted included Ville-Franche (and Monte Carlo), Florence (port city was Livorno), Rome (port city was Civitivecchia), Naples and Sicily. Needless to say we were very tired when we got off the ship.
Barcelona is a great city and we enjoyed touring it on our own as we arrived one day early. Barcelona airport is clean but can be confusing for baggage claim so be careful. Iberialost 1 of our 3 pieces of luggage but delivered it 15 minutes before the cruise left! In Barcelona, they speak Catalonian Spanish and not Castillian Spanish as I know it. This caused a lot of confusion at times.
Barcelona just opened a new seaport terminal a few weeks before our arrival. The new terminal made things easy and quick even though 2 cruise ships were in port loading passengers. We got to the terminal at 11:15 a.m. and were on the ship by 11:30 though the staterooms were not available until 1:00 p.m. Our first stop was the spa, where my wife made a massage appointment for the only day at sea.
The ship was in excellent condition. In January, we took a 5 day cruise on the sister ship "Navigator of the Seas" so we were familar with the ship already. On Navigator we attended most of the shows and most of the activities on the ship. During this cruise, the significant port time left little time to use any ship facilities.
We had a superior balcony stateroom which is nestled among the junior suites. Our room had plenty of storage space and was very comfortable. Everything in the room worked well. Our room steward was excellent.
Our dining staff was also excellent and we received the small table we had requested. Even the head waiter was attentive. We had 6:30 seating out of the 5 available choices (6:00, 6:30, 8:00, 8:30 or 9:00). The most negative thing I can say about the cruise was that the menus were not catered towards the European cruise. The menus looked very similar to the menus we see when we cruise the Caribbean. The food in the dining room, although nothing special, was still very good. Not that my wife or I cared, but there was no lobster on the menu (waiter made a point of letting us know this). We did go to Portofino's one night only bacause our travel agent gave us free passes to do so. Food and service at Portofinos was excellent. This ship did not have a steakhouse.
Almost every night before dinner, we took advantage of the concierge room which is available to Diamond or higher level Crown and Anchor passengers and suite guests. Free drinks and hot and cold hors d'ouvres before dinner made dinner even more special. We used the conceirge to make reservations at Portofinos and to check our bill the last night of the cruise. He was very helpful.
We used very few amenities on the cruise. Even though we skipped it on this cruise, I highly recommend the ice show. The variety shows were what you would expect though we did not even attend one. I never heard of any of the performers who were aboard our cruise (a juggler and a singer, no comedian that I heard about). We never got to play shuffleboard or miniature golf or go ice skating or in-line skating, but we knew that we were using the ship as a hotel and less as an attraction on this cruise.
As we had never been to Europe and many of the sites are far from the port, we opted to book a shore excursion from RCL at every port. The shore excursions were all excellent and all lasted almost the entire time in port (9 to 11 hours). All of the guides spoke very good English and were very knowledgeable. The buses were all comfortable and air conditioned but none of them contained a rerstroom on board. When the tour warns you about spending a lot of time on the bus, they were telling the truth. In addition, wherever you sat the first time you got on the bus, that was your seat for the rest of the tour. In Livorno (port for Florence) and Civitivechhia (port for Rome), it truly was 1 to 2 hours into the main city from the port. All of our tours included lunch and the meals were excellent. All meals included wine, bottled water and at least three courses. The meals tended to be chicken or beef though a vegetarian option was avialable upon request, and of course a pasta course. Service at all of the meals was excellent.
I will not bore you with all of our shore excursions but will just try to highlight. In France, we chose to tour Monte Carlo and Eze. An excellent choice. We toured the royal palace in Monaco and the Grand Casino. In Florence, we skipped Pisa and the Florence museums and went to Tuscany, another excellent choice. We toured the ancient town of Volterra and San Gimignano and ate lunch at a Tuscan farmhouse and winery. The Tuscan countryside is gorgeous and reminded us of Napa Valley, California. In Naples, we originally chose Capri and the Amalfi Coast tour, but that tour was cancelled for lack of interest. We instead toured the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento. This was an especially great tour with a wonderful guide ("Stefano"). How the bus got through narrow winding cliff-side streets of the Amalfi Coast, I still am not sure. Positano and Amalfi are gorgeous. It really was a slice of heaven. In Sicily we chose to visit the North part of the Island including Segesta and Erice. This included a trip up a mountain in a cable car. Though Sicily was nice, there is no reason to go through the effort to return there now that we have seen it.
Disembarkation was a breeze. The port uses baggage carousels (like an airport) so you really have to wait until your color is called to get off or you will be waiting for your luggage a long time. We had booked a tour through RCL for the city of Barcelona ending at the airport. The tour was brief and did not include lunch but we did get to the airport at the promised time.
Overall, a great trip, though very tiring. I think I need a Carribbean cruise just to unwind.
It took my wife ten years to talk me into a cruise since I work on ships. I was hooked the first day.
This was our 5th cruise, first Europe cruise. We had been on Voyager a few years ago in the Carribean and the ship had not aged except for 2 cloudy Windjammer windows. I can tell you it's incredible the job RCCL does maintaining the vessels.
I also noted the detail and sobriety with which safety is carried out and the manner of the drills. All top notch.
The ports the company chose were great from a historical, amenity, and activity point.
Our two afternoon tours in Villefranche and Pompeii were top notch. As a jaded world traveler I'm telling you I was blown away. The tour guides had volumnous knowledge, were cheery and well organized -- a great value.
Do I really need to mention the great food and service!
The shows were fantastic. You can't possibly do everything they offer. If you don't believe me, buy the cruise in review and watch it when you get home!
I think we'll do a Greek Isle cruise next. Now it's yourturn -- get out there!!!
Just the Facts Ship: Voyager of the Seas Dates Sailed: March 9 to March 16, 2008 Captain: Frank Martinsen Entertainment Director: Eric Dowis Ports: Galveston-Roatan-Cozumel-Progreso-Galveston Weather: Good all week
This is my 8th Royal Caribbean cruise and 2nd on the Voyager having just sailed on her in January. We only just booked this cruise a few weeks ago on a 'happy hour' sale. We had an inside cabin, but the price and value was too good to pass up, so basically this is a bonus cruise for us. I will be commenting on changes on this cruise from the recent cruise we took in January.
Day One -- Sunday -- Embarkation Left the Ranch about 6:30 a.m. and dropped off the dog at DD's apartment in Waco. We had a nice and easy drive to Galveston. Houston traffic was fine. We arrived early enough to drop our bags at Cruise Terminal #2 before automobile traffic became heavy. I drove over and parked at EZ Cruise parking and then walked over to the ship terminal. Walking is easier than riding the shuttle and the weather was great. They had a new priority line forsecurity which we used and then proceeded to Priority check-in. There were lots of VIP's in January, but very few this sailing so there was no line and we were processed strait away. We had just settled in with our complimentary glass of champagne when they announced they would begin boarding. Nice group in the priority area and no mad rush to the door and as we knew the routine we were actually the first to board the ship. I think a few handicapped passengers and a wedding party boarded early, but we were basically the first of the regular passengers to board. The ship staff were extremely friendly. Everyone welcomed us on board ship and offered help or guidance. The staff is much more friendly than just a few weeks ago. It was quite obvious. The friendly state would be proud.
As mentioned being already familiar with the ship we were the first in the Windjammer by 10-15 minutes. It was 11:50 a.m. and we are enjoying a wonderful private buffet. With no one there we could appreciate the beautiful ice carving and the fruit displays and the attention of the wonderful staff. Again, the dining staff was also very friendly. The roast beef was very good as was the salad and the desserts. We went to the High Notes lounge to wait until 1:00 pm when the cabins became available to guests. We went to our cabin shortly after 1:00 p.m. and DW had a nice nap and I a short one. DW's luggage arrived at 2:00 p.m., but didn't open it until after nap time. They had confiscated a bottle of wine and left a receipt in its place. I'm sure the increased security is because of spring break. My bag never arrived. Just before the 4:00 p.m. muster drill we met our Cabin Steward Selvon from Paraguay. We requested the beds set as twins, ice for our small cooler, robes, and for him to be on the look out for my bag. He is very personable and I think he will do a good job.
Sail away was a little late and we had a cocktail in the High Notes lounge, but I was starting to become anxious about my missing bag. We decided to eat in the Windjammer about 6:30 p.m. and it is set up very nice for dinner. The waiters were all dressed in semi-formal attire and the tables were set with the silver. I had pork, mashed potatoes, and chicken cordon-bleu which were all very good. DW actually prefers the Windjammer as she has more vegetarian choices than the dining room. We stopped by the pursers desk on the way to the welcome show to make a query about my bag and was informed that it was in security. Well at least we know it made the ship.
The welcome show for both dinner settings featured comedian Tom McTigue, Eric Dowis the Cruise Director, and the ship's singers and dancers. It was a good show, better than in January.
Saga of the Missing Bag: Following the show we went down to deck one security and they had a collection of passenger bags. We found mine and they asked me to open it. There was no contraband, the bottles of diet coke confused them. By the time I got my bag back to my room it was after 8:00 and no way I could clean and change in time for 8:00 p.m. dinner. Problem (rant): I was never notified that they had my bag in security and that it needed to be claimed. I agree with the additional security and scrutiny of bags especially during spring break; however, they must make the guest aware of what is happening. Due to no fault of mine I missed dinner in the dining room and those that read my blog and reviews know how important dinner is to me. Security claimed they notified guest relations, but no one notified me. If they had notified me I could have had my bag probably before sail away and saved myself the anxiety of the missing bag and had dinner as usual. (end rant) I think they will implement a procedure to correct this for future guests and I will not let a problem like this effect my overall cruise attitude nor should anyone else.
Bravo, Bravo, Bravo: They had a fire in the electrical controls for the propulsion system about 7:45 p.m. and sounded the alarm. We actually never heard the alarm as we were in the theater, but did hear the Captain's explanation of what happened about half an hour later. They had a fire in the electrical panel and control box of the port side azipod so we will be sailing with less than full thrust for awhile.
Day Two -- Monday -- At Sea Very breezy today, midday temperature only 75°. I had breakfast in the Windjammer. A very nice omelet made by Tamika (from Jamaica) who made the great omelet for me last cruise. Not crowded at all as passengers haven't discovered the omelet station as yet. Breakfast was very good. We still had ice for our diet cokes this morning, another vast improvement from January when our cabin steward was not very good at all and wouldn't fill the cooler full enough for the ice to last overnight. We don't drink coffee so the diet coke is important in the mornings. After breakfast I picked up tickets for the Ice Skating Show. We attended the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle at 11:00 in the High Notes Lounge. There was a good crowd and it's always great to put real names to screen names. They again had the great appetizers and chocolate covered strawberries. We actually won two of the little gifts this time. Eric, the cruise director, did attend and was his humorous self during the raffle.
We had lunch in the dining room and it was just OK. DW said the pasta sauce had no flavor and this was her favorite lunch in January. The carrot cake was again very good. The Captain gave his midday report and announced a revised itinerary due to yesterday's fire. We have been sailing with only the one main propeller and they need calm waters to recalibrate the other so we will be sailing direct to Roatan so they can make the repairs there. A short nap before we went to the 3:00 ice show, Ice Odyssey. They had a few new skaters since we saw them in January. It was an excellent show and not to be missed. The Captain's reception was held in Studio B although we passed on attending. Guest Relations sent us a bottle of wine with an apology about the missing bag. That was very nice and appreciated.
We attended dinner tonight in the dining room. Escargot, shrimp cocktail, Beef filet, and Grand Mariner Soufflé were my selections. Greg Bonham was the feature entertainer this evening, but we skipped having seen him previously.
Day Three -- Tuesday -- At Sea Weather is much better today. Midday temperature is 81°. I had breakfast in the Windjammer. A very good breakfast: fried eggs, bacon, hash, malt-o-meal, and fresh fruit. We had a nice walk around the decks this morning. We had lunch in the Windjammer, a very good salad as usual and pork tenderloin. Walked the ship again after lunch and then a nap. In the late afternoon we opened our complementary bottle of wine and had our own party with fruit & cheese plates from room service. We then went to the La Scala Theater for the feature production show, Broadway Rhythm & Rhyme. We saw some friends in the front row so joined them. A very unique perspective of the show to say the least. The show was fantastic with current and popular show tunes. All the singers and dancers were very good. After the show we enjoyed some wine in the Champagne Bar until dinner. Dinner was good. DW had the vegetarian entrée: an Asparagus & Brie Tart which is their best vegetarian entrée in her opinion. I had the Crabmeat & seafood salad, Tilapia and a Steak. BBB and a Mango parfait type dish for dessert. Keeping with the wine theme of the evening we did order a bottle of wine with dinner. After dinner we split a Mango Lava Flow on one of the outside promenade tables of the sports bar. Great place to people watch. About 11:00 pm. We went to the Country & Western night / Texas Party in Studio B. They had a western band and did line dancing directed by the cruise staff and two stepped the night away.
Day Four -- Wednesday -- Roatan We arrived by 8:00 a.m. and the weather is great although you really can't see the mainland today. Temperature very pleasant 84°. When we were here in January they had just finished the extended dirt work around the pier. Today they have full construction of three buildings underway. They have made great progress in just a few weeks. DW had room service breakfast. I again visited Tamika at the omelet station in the Windjammer and my omelet was excellent. Today is our stay on the ship on a port day which we try to do on each cruise in order to take advantage of ship amenities. Some pool, hot tub, and deck time most of the day in the Solarium. We brought lunch from the Windjammer back to the solarium since we had a table next to our loungers. Each of us had great salads. I had two small grilled steaks, a grilled tilapia, and baked potato. It was great, the steaks better than the steak from the dining room the previous dinner. We went to the ice show, Ice Odyssey again. Since today was originally scheduled as a sea day there were extra seats for the early ice show as a lot of people were still in port. It was great watching it again as we could anticipate some of the routine which was enjoyable. Some roles were different in this show as well and it was a fantastic show. Dinner was good, my selections were the Scallops, Shrimp Cocktail, Chicken Marsala, and Tiramisu for dessert. The Love and Marriage game show was this evening. The head waiter brought me a plate of sliced hearts of palm (one of my favorites) which were fantastic. We would never get them in Bosque county. Laraf the magic show was this evening, but having seen it we passed this evening.
Day Five -- Thursday -- Cozumel The weather is very nice about 86° but a nice breeze. Really ideal weather for Cozumel. We docked about 8:30 am. at the Punta Langosta pier. There were four ships in Cozumel, two at the International pier and two at Punta Langosta. We watched the Love & Marriage show on the cabin TV this morning and Eric Dowis is amazing. A great ad-libber and he makes the now standard cruise show very humorous. We both ate in the Windjammer, I had the usual Timika omelet which was great. Since we had no big excursions planned, just an afternoon in town, we were very pleased to be at the Puerto Langosta as we can walk into San Miguel. We left the ship about 10:30. I had a hair cut at Antonio's barber shop. Martin has been cutting my hair for almost three years. We saw our friend Nelly at her shop, Mayan Pearl. Next stop was Havana Blue where we sat on the upstairs patio overlooking the Strait of Cozumel and enjoyed a few rounds of mojitos. They are the best in the Caribbean IMHO. We also had some great guacamole & chips. We spent the rest of the afternoon on the square. I had a good beer drinking spot at Plaza Leza (thanks Paco & Edwin) and DW could shop. Several mariachis played our favorites. We arrived back at the ship a little before the suggested 4:30. After boarding we made our way to the Solarium for some swimming. I also hit the hot tub in the spa. Fruit & Cheese plates in the cabin for a nice snack. The entertainment this evening in the La Scala Theatre was comedian Chas Elstner. Dinner was very good. This would have been formal night, but they have delayed that. I had another special hearts-of palm salad, the lobster, prime rib, and the sampler assortment for desert. The Quest has returned and was tonight in Studio B.
Day Six -- Friday -- Progreso Weather is very windy, up to 20+ knots according to Captain Frank. Midday temperature 86°. We docked a little late about 9:30 a.m. due to the high winds, but the winds calmed during the day. The beach and water looked really great today, a pretty aqua blue. It really looked like the Caribbean and not the Gulf of Mexico. DW found the shop with the handbags that she likes and we picked up some more for gifts. We then went to our favorite restaurant, Le Saint Bonnet and lingered there for the afternoon, basically enjoying Dos XX and guacamole while watching people and the beach, visiting with vendors, and listening to mariachis. We stayed until after 2:00 p.m. and took a taxi arriving back at the dock about 2:30 and on the ship for a nice swim in the Solarium pool. About 4:00 p.m. we ate at Johnny Rockets. It was very good, DW had a grilled cheese and I had a Nathan hot dog and a small hamburger. The fries and onion rings are really good. The sundaes are also excellent. I do recommend visiting Johnny Rockets. Departure from Progreso was at 5:30 p.m. and we watched the late arrivals from deck four which is always amusing. The second production show for our cruise was before dinner. Music in Motion featured the singers and dancers in a Broadway style review show featuring popular songs from movies. It was excellent, some of the best singers and dancers I have seen on board a cruise ship. Dinner was good. I again had my bonus hearts-of palm salad and my selections were the Shrimp cocktail, Mulligatawny soup, and the Chinese duck. The Karaoke Superstars was following dinner, but we retired early.
Day Seven -- Saturday -- At Sea We slept in this morning and DW brought some fruit and pastries from the Windjammer. It has been very nice having a cabin so close to the Windjammer as we can pick up snacks as needed. A little breezy on deck and more cloudy the further north we sailed. A great surprise when we checked the on board account. Our fuel supplement was refunded. I believe RCI and the State of Florida reached an agreement earlier this week and those that booked before a certain date received the refund. Since we used a NextCruise booking from before the date, we received the refund. Every little bit helps. We were invited to the luncheon for Platinum and Diamond guests at noon. It was in the Magic Flute and it was well attended. We were able to see our head waiter from January and the guests at our table were very nice. They served two starters, Duck Pate, and a Potato Soup with flaky biscuit. We had a choice of entrees. I had the Filet Mignon which was very good and they prepared some vegetables for DW. The dessert was a special Chocolate Melting Cake. In the afternoon we used the coupons from our Platinum book for wine and some casino specials. We watched some of the Karaoke Superstars on cabin TV, it was funny. I had an appointment with the Loyalty Ambassador this afternoon. For anyone wanting to book a future cruise I recommend making an appointment early in the week. BTW--Deadline for Next Cruise bookings is midnight of the 6th day. We skipped the Farewell entertainment show. Dinner was again vary good. I had the steak and green salad, again with hearts of palm. After dinner was the Island Frenzy Parade in the Royal Promenade. DW packed during the day and I packed this evening. An early evening as we have early departure.
Debarkation -- Sunday No room service on debarkation morning, but a full breakfast menu in the dining room. We arrived early and turned in the channel and docked starboard side to the terminal. They started allowing the self-debarkation people off about 7:50 a.m. It was really fairly smooth considering how many people are using it. We were even able to easily pick up the bottle of wine which was taken from DW's bag the previous Sunday. They had hundreds of crew members in line for customs and fortunately they were going to different customs agents than the passengers. We rolled our bags to EZ Cruise parking and were on our way to fill up the car with fuel and head north. Gas was $3.12 in Galveston. We would have been off the island well before 9:00 a.m., but they had the causeway closed for bridge demolition and we had a 20+ minute wait. We finally crossed the bridge about 9:15 a.m. We made our stop in Hearne, Texas for migas and arrived home in fine shape about 2:00 p.m.
Ship This was my third time on a Voyager class ship. I am still very impressed. There are good and bad things about the size. There are a lot of people and the pools can be very crowded during peak times. The elevators can be busy or full and I recommend taking the stairs when possible. The additional size also means that there is room for the photo gallery, casino, bars, etc. without any one of them dominating an entire deck. The Aquarium Bar and Champagne Bar (no longer a non smoking bar) are very impressive as are the Studio B, the Theater, and other public spaces. The Grand Promenade is very impressive indeed and must be experienced. The ship was very clean and the public rooms were always spotless.
There are a lot of shipboard activities to choose from while on the cruise. This being our second in just a few weeks we still didn't get to do everything we wanted to do during the week. We never really hit the sports deck and the spa only twice, but were very busy with other activities. Choose the activities you wish and leave time for just relaxing on board.
Crew The staff and crew are very good. The staff are much more friendly than in January. I guess they have really adjusted to the new port and friendly crowd. We have a new Captain and he did keep us informed of the fire damage and altered itinerary. Our waiter and assistant waiter were excellent. The bar staff all very friendly. Even the maintenance crew on deck would greet you. Very impressed.
Cabin We have cabin 1657 which is an interior on deck ten. It is a very good location. The cabin is basically the same as an O/V or balcony cabin. Same amenities. Our cabin steward is Selvon from Paraguay and he was excellent. He did keep my small cooler full of ice and we never ran out of ice. Selvon is a great improvement from the cabin attendant we had on the January cruise. The cabin was very clean when we boarded and cleaned very well during the week. The cabin could use some updating, primarily the couch & chair is worn and stained, but overall very nice. The safe has a button keypad. Air worked very well. The cabin refrigerator was well stocked, but we never used it.
Food Our dining room is the Magic Flute, deck five (top level) of the 3 level restaurant. It was a six top table and the other four guests were co-eds from Texas A&M. Very nice girls average age 21. The table was in a very good location on the inside with a perfect view of the beautiful main chandelier. Our waiter, Vjeckoslav from Croatia is one of the best waiters we have ever had on a cruise. The assistant waiter, Anastasia from Belarus, is a delight and charming. She has a degree in linguistics and speaks five languages. The headwaiter Assif from India came by several times to check our table and arranged the hearts-of-palm.
Since we have no balcony this cruise and we are only one deck below the Windjammer we are not doing the fruit & cheese plates each day as we would usually do. We have ordered them, but it is very convenient to hit the Windjammer for a snack. Johnny Rockets was a good alternative for lunch or afternoon snack. Lunch in the dining room has the same menu each day with one special item that does change daily. All the bread selections are very good on board. There are several ice cream machines with strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate flavors. You can order room service on the RC-TV, but I recommend calling room service. We used the Windjammer much more this cruise and we were very impressed. The dinner we had the first night was very good. All the breakfasts were good and IMHO easier and as good as using the dining room. The lunches were always good and as we learned the location of specialty items it was even more enjoyable. If one wanted to eat in the Windjammer for dinner each evening you could get the same waiter if you wish by sitting in the same area. The service was quite good. They also had several smaller themed buffets on the pool deck during the cruise, some in the late evening and some at noon. Overall the food is very good to excellent.
Room Service We used it for light breakfast and a few times in the afternoon for Fruit & Cheese plates. Service was good when used.
Cruise Highlights We 'appreciate' CD Eric Dowis and his good-ole-boy routine, the fantastic ice shows, and the Broadway style Rhythm & Rhyme and Music In Motion production shows. Cozumel is always a favorite.
Needs Improvement RCTV: They were showing the very same movies that they were in January. Surely they can add new movies in that period of time. Many times we enjoy cabin time and updated movies would help. I did enjoy the Nelson TV channel that was added.
Texanization A tremendous improvement on the ice situation from the Voyager's first week or two of sailing from Texas. I believe having an excellent cabin attendant helped 100%, but I had no trouble getting ice from the bar, bar servers, and Windjammer when needed. The hotel director should be commended for recognizing the needs of his Texas guests. Again, the staff was very, very, very friendly.
Comments They really do a very good job of scheduling the entertainment and production shows, and then coordinating them with the various receptions, and other events and activities on board ship. It was made more difficult this week due to the change in ports and sea days, but the staff did a great job. Another great cruise and we are bringing friends with us when we sail again on the Voyager of the Seas in January '09, when she again returns to Texas.
While my overall impression upon leaving the ship at the end of the cruise was favorable, I have to admit that the Voyager of The Seas did not live up to my expectations for a ship that is near the top of the RCCL fleet. Where the Voyager falls short is in the little extras that you think would be part of such a luxurious persona that the ship portrays itself to be, and, in fact, is in style and decor.
We sailed out of Galveston; Deck 8; Balcony Suite.; Destination Mexico.
There are no complimentary toiletries in the bathrooms. The bath soap, of Ivory soap quality, is there for basin and shower. The shampoo/conditioner in the dispenser in the shower will leave your hair like straw. Do take you own from home. The hair dryer, hidden in the top right dresser drawer, is very weak. All instant hand sanitizer stations have been removed from the entrances to food service areas.
The mattresses need updating to match what most motel chains are now offering their customers. No big, fluffy beds here.
The food in the dining room was good, but not outstanding. The Windjammeris a nice alternative at the beginning of the week. Near the end of the cruise they begin to run out of some items, so you cannot always find your favorites. The ship's bars are all delightfully decorated and generally offer a specialty drink. Prices are high and you are not allowed to order liquor by the bottle for your cabin, nor can you buy liquor on shore for consumption onboard. Other cruise lines allow you to purchase bottled liquor and set-ups through room service for your own use onboard.
RCCL has the mini coolers in the room. Yes, I said coolers. The engineer we called because our fridge wasn't keeping items cold, informed us that they were not refrigerators, they were coolers. A fellow passenger had to have them put a refrigerator in her cabin because the cooler was not cold enough to keep her insulin at the proper temperature. That brings to mind the ice buckets that do not keep the ice from melting. You come back to your room at ten or eleven or later at night to find a few melted cubes floating in the bucket. Your cabin attendant is off duty. You call room service for ice and they are kind of taken aback. Yes they bring the ice, in a plastic bucket that sweats all over what little space you have. Petty? Yes! But this is just not a first class operation.
Each morning we had room service for juice, coffee, tea, fruit and sometimes pastry plates. Not one morning was the tray 100% correct. It got to the point that someone from room service would place a follow up call to see how our order was handled, and we were not rude or abusive.
The entire staff -- wait staff, room service, cabin attendant, dining room staff, bar staff, guest relations, shops -- all the personnel involved with passengers on The Voyager are fantastic. When mistakes occur like the breakfast delivery, IMO it is because they are so overworked. They are trying to run this ship with over 3,000 passengers with too small of a staff.
The ship itself is beautiful. The cruise activities, the spa treatments, the shows, the parades -- all were super and lots of fun. One especially nice touch is the Promenade Café on Deck 5 that stays open 24 hours serving free coffee, tea and hot chocolate along with small sandwiches and pastries.
Having cruised several other lines and four previous times with RCCL, I feel that RCCL has undertaken some cost cutting measures that are manifested in the little details that once set their cruise line apart from the others. I will shop a few other lines before returning to RCCL again.
Demographics My husband and I are in our mid-twenties. We are very active, as we are both in the Army. This was our first cruise, but we both agreed it won't be our last! We like to have fun but don't usually overdo it.
Booking We were originally booked for the Vision of the Seas in June, but we had to reschedule due to our vacation timing, and we changed to the Voyager of the Seas. I made the change because I liked the itinerary better, and we live about 8 hours from Galveston, so we were able to drive instead. We had an Owner's suite booked on the Vision (it's a less expensive cruise), but since we did not book this cruise until December, all that was available was the junior suite. We were booked for #9564, which is considered forward, but it was one of the last rooms in the "forward" section, so we were close to the center. As I mentioned, we decided to drive, so I booked a room through Choice Hotels at the Quality Inn.
We booked our excursions online through Royal Caribbean. I recommend this, asI heard people complaining that some excursions were booked up, and they were unaware that you could book them early online. If you are dead-set on a certain excursion, I think it's better to be safe than sorry. However, if you are more of a free-spirit and not too picky about what you do, then you may save money by waiting or getting an excursion in the port through a different company.
Drive to Galveston We drove from southern Oklahoma to Galveston. It was about an 8 hour drive. The drive was nice and rather quick. We hit a little traffic in Dallas and a little more in Houston. We arrived in Galveston after 6 PM. We checked in to our hotel and ordered pizza. The hotel was clean and nice. I recommend it to anyone.
The Port It took us maybe 20 minutes to get to the port. There were only two ships in Galveston then, the Voyager and the Carnival Conquest. I think this is why it was a rather painless process. The parking lot is across the street and down the road a little from the port. You really can't walk, as there are no sidewalks, but there are free shuttles. Parking was $70. Security was a breeze, as we are accustomed to airport security, which is much stricter. We could not board the ship right away, so we waited in the waiting area.
Boarding -- Day 1 I do not remember what time we did get to board. There are people trying to take your picture as you board, but no one overly pushy. We could not go into our rooms until 1PM, so we ate in the Windjammer, and looked around a little. We finally were able to go to our rooms, so we unpacked and got settled. I want to note that it took me an entire day before I found the hairdryer. It was in the drawer in front of the mirror in the room. It was not in the bathroom like in hotels. I took my own hair dryer, but I found theirs to be sufficient, and I am rather picky about hair dryers since I have thick hair that does not look good when it air dries.
The Ship The Voyager is a beautiful, clean, and well-kept ship. She holds over 3,000 passengers, but even on sea days, it didn't seem like it. Since she sails out of Galveston, over 2,000 passengers were from Texas, which I didn't mind because generally people from Texas are very friendly. I would like to try other ships, but I would sail on the Voyager again. Since this was our first cruise, I have nothing to compare it to, but I was impressed. The ship is big, but easy to navigate. There are little maps everywhere in case you aren't sure what deck or end of the ship something is on.
Drinks I ordered a whiskey sour from the Pig and Whistle, and they made it with Wild Turkey. This was not the case at all the bars but try to remember to specify which alcohol you want used or otherwise they will use the cheapest they have. The drink of the day is usually good, but weak. The martinis are very strong, yet expensive. I was feeling good after one.
Food The food in the Windjammer was decent, but always the same. I thought the free pizza on the Promenade was good, but the cookies were hard. I thoroughly enjoyed the food in the dining room. I will elaborate more on the dining room in a separate section. We ate breakfast in the Windjammer every day except once I had room service. I recommend trying the room service at least once since it is free. The food was always the same in the Windjammer, but there was a lot of it and a lot of variety. They had fresh fruit every day, which I enjoyed. I must note that they did not have 2% milk. All they had was skim and whole.
Clothing I attempted to pack light since I read most people pack too much for their first cruise. In doing so, I didn't pack enough IMO. I packed enough for the dining room, as we did follow the dress code, while it seems the vast majority did not. I packed two formal dresses (one long, one short), five nice tops, two pairs of slacks to mix and match with the tops, and one jacket that matched a pair of slacks for "smart casual" night. I took two pairs of heels for the formal nights, flip flops, two pairs of nice sandals, boots, and I wore my running shoes. I could have done without the boots and one pair of sandals. I packed two bathing suits but only used one, as it was not quite warm enough to me to swim, and we did not go on any water excursions. I did not pack enough shirts to wear during the day. I took two pairs of jeans when I only needed one. I recommend one pair of jeans or casual pants, and two or three pairs of shorts or capris. Our horseback riding excursion required long pants.
The Dining Room Never had a bad time in the dining room. We ate there every evening and once for lunch. We ate second seating at 8 PM. At first I wanted early seating, but after reading recommendations on Cruisemates, I stuck with late. Even our waiter said late seating was more relaxed, particularly on port days because early seating was always rushed to dinner. If you get hungry before dinner, you can always grab a snack in the Windjammer or on the Promenade.
The first evening, we were the only ones at our 6-person table since it was Super Bowl night. Our waiter, Sunil, was awesome. I was highly tickled and impressed by the way he would put my napkin in my lap, and how he always took the ladies' orders first and always served us our food first before the men. Apparently chivalry is not dead!
As far as the food was, most of it was good. The food I did not enjoy was not the fault of the dining room but rather I just didn't like the food itself. I liked the appetizers and soups best. Sunil would give me "the look" if I did not order at least two starters. I do not like salad, but I do like soup. The first night I had chicken noodle soup and the cheese plate. I had prime rib for dinner, which I did not particularly like, but that is because I am not a huge prime rib fan.
The second night was the first formal night. The other two couples assigned to our table were there. I was nervous about eating with strangers, but I think they match you with people close to your age. We were with a couple from Ohio and a couple from Texas. The Ohio couple was awesome, and they were there every night after that. The TX couple only showed up that night and the next night. The second night I had lobster bisque and es cargo for appetizers. I have never had either before, and they were both good. I had duck for supper, but once again, I should not have ordered that as I was not a big fan.
After two nights of not enjoying my main course, I learned my lesson. The third night I had a very tasty pasta dish, although I could not remember what it was called to write it down.
The fourth night was Italian night. I had garlic soup and shrimp cocktail for appetizers. I love garlic, so I found this soup to be quite tasty. For supper I had garlic tiger shrimp, and it was also quite tasty. This evening, the wait staff sang us an Italian love song. It was very cute.
The fifth night was the second formal night, and (drum roll) LOBSTER NIGHT. I love lobster, so this was a good night. I had a duck soup and pineapple appetizer. I ordered the pineapple after getting "the look" from Sunil. It was good. I had two lobsters, as you can have as many as you want. Apparently the record is 16.
The sixth night the chef's special was Asian Duck. Sunil pretty much told us not to order the duck, however he brought our table one to try, and everyone who tried it said it was dry and not good. I ordered the angus steak. I forgot to mention there are about four entrees that are "alternative selections" that are there every night. There was angus steak, chicken, a pasta dish, and something else I cannot remember. So, if all else fails, you can order one of these dishes. I thought the steak was ok.
The last night we all had the Thai shrimp. I generally like oriental food, so I enjoyed this. Everyone else at the table did as well.
Entertainment Every night at 7:30 is karaoke at the Pig and Whistle. We would stop by on our way to dinner and watch a few songs. This was absolutely hilarious. You would think it would be the young people singing karaoke. No, it's the old guys. One guy said it right. "No one cares what you do when you are old." They cracked me up!
We caught the end of the comedy show one night. The comedian, Jim Collition, was pretty funny. We managed to get tickets to the ice show. The Compass will tell you when you can get tickets. The ice show was very good, especially on the small rink. We missed the Love and Marriage game show, but we caught it on TV. Apparently this is one of their best shows, so I recommend trying to go. The only other show we caught was the finale show. It was decent. They did a cool black-light dance thing, and they had a show by a group from Argentina. I can't really describe it. I enjoyed the show. It's obviously not Broadway, but entertaining nonetheless.
Day 2 -- At Sea My husband and I attempted to run on the track, but we only made it about a mile, as it was very windy. This was one of two days I believe the ice skating rink was open to everyone, so we checked it out. It was fun, but very small. We discovered that they play the shows from the theater on the TV later on, so we watched a little of the previous night's comedy show. Later on in the cruise we caught the Love and Marriage show, which was hilarious.
Day 3 -- At Sea It was still too windy for outdoor running IMO, so I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill. The gym was decent but rather lacking for someone like me who works out a lot. The treadmills were very basic. They had no programs or even cup holders. I played bingo and won $78 (it was $19 to play). After dinner, there was a Mardi Gras parade in the Promenade and a party following in The Vault disco club. We actually visited the Vault I believe the night before, and hardly anyone was there, but this time, everyone sort of trickled there from the Promenade, so we danced a few songs there. We did not revisit the Vault anymore so I cannot tell you if it ever gained more popularity.
Day 4 -- Montego Bay, Jamaica We did not shop any in Jamaica. From what I saw, Montego Bay is a beautiful but poor town. We signed up for the Chukka ATV safari. We have never ridden ATVs, and that was ok. I also liked this excursion because you have to be at least 16, so no kids. We had a great time, but we got a bit dirty, so if you do this then wear clothes you don't mind getting dirty. It rained a tiny bit on us as well. Also, our tickets said bring a pool towel, but we did not need them. As I mentioned, my husband and I had never ridden ATVs before. It took me a little while to get accustomed to controlling and steering it, but once I got comfortable, I was good to go. After our excursion we just went back to the ship. I noticed how empty the ship was, so if you aren't too interested in shopping or excursions, this is the perfect time to enjoy the ship. The pools were far less crowded, and I hear spa prices are cheaper on port days (we never used the spa).
Day 5 -- Georgetown, Cayman Islands There were five other ships in port this day: the Carnival Conquest, the Carnival Victory, the Freedom of the Seas, the Celebrity Century, and an Oceana ship. This made the port EXTREMLY crowded. This was a tendered port, and I found tendering to be rather painless. We were booked for a Bicycle Tour excursion. Only one other couple was booked for this excursion, and the bus was not there on time, so they cancelled. We did not want to be the only ones on the tour, and I wanted to shop, so we cancelled as well. This turned out to be bittersweet. Apparently it poured rain, so that would not have been good. However, the shopping was absolutely horrendous. Due to there being six ships in port, you could hardly move in port. Our Ohio tablemates did a Jeep tour, and had a pretty good time, although they got soaked in the rain. We ended up hanging out on the ship and got in a good nap.
Day 6 -- Cozumel, Mexico We were able to book two excursions in Cozumel. Our first one was horseback riding. Once again, my husband and I had never rode horses, but neither had many others on this tour, so that was ok. This tour was pretty nice, although there wasn't much to see other than a couple small Mayan caves. We never got off the horses to look around. Afterwards there were free Coronas, so obviously this was a good tour. Even though the tour started late because we docked a little late, we had plenty of time to get to our second excursion. Our second excursion was parasailing. We had never parasailed before either, so it was quite fun. You are only in the air for 6-8 minutes, but really it's plenty. I am pretty scared of heights, and I had no issues doing this.
Day 7 -- At Sea Sadly this was our last full day. I played bingo for the jackpot, but of course did not win. I think my previous win of $78 jinxed me from winning the jackpot. We also went to the finale show, which I have covered in entertainment.
Debarkation We were in the last group off the ship since we drove. We should have done the express debarkation, because we had to sit around for about two hours with nothing to do. You have to be out of your stateroom by 8, and the Windjammer closes at 8:30. Everything is pretty much closed, so you just sit around until your color is called. Immigration was pretty fast.
Overall Overall we had a wonderful time, and want to cruise again. We definitely enjoy Royal Caribbean. Cruising is a great value vacation, and a great way to visit numerous places in one shot. At sea there are numerous activities. Sometimes it is hard to choose! In port, you can stay on the ship, shop in port, or enjoy tours and other excursions. There seems to be plenty to keep the kids busy as well. If you don't feel like doing a million things, you can order room service, go to the spa, or just lounge by the pool!
Hi Everyone, here is the review from my recent cruise on Voyager of the Seas, Feb 17, 2008 from Galveston, Texas. I have tried to include all of the info that will help you to have smooth sailing on your next cruise. Please email me if you have any questions or would like to see pictures of the ship.
We arrived in Galveston around 1:30p. When you drive in to drop off your luggage, you enter the pier area at the end near the Carnival Conquest (there is only one entrance to the pier area). Once you are in, the lanes divide for the Conquest and the Voyager. After we dropped off our luggage, we parked just across the street in "Parking Lot B". The charge was $70 dollars and you prepay. They take cash and Visa and MasterCard. They do not take American Express. After we parked, the parking shuttle promptly picked us up and dropped us off right at the ship.
Once inside the pier building, there is a line for security. If you are Diamond, Platinum, staying in a Grand Suite or higher, or handicapped and would liketo request wheelchair assistance to board, be sure to tell the Royal Caribbean rep right away and they will direct you to the left side of the line which was much shorter and very accommodating. We are both Platinum and had one in a wheelchair. Once past security, the check in lines moved very quickly.
Our cabin was category I cabin 2342 ocean view. It was on deck 2 aft. Even though I missed having a balcony this time, this cabin worked out quite well. There was plenty of room and storage. The window was quite a large round window. The location was very good since we were only one deck down from the dining room and one deck up from where we disembarked in most ports. We were able to take the stairs at these times and not have to wait for elevators all the time. Our room had a mini fridge, which we asked the cabin steward to empty out and take all of the contents out of our room. At first he wanted to set it on the desk and we asked him if he would just take it all away and he did. This way we were able to put our own water and sodas in the fridge. This would also be good for anyone with medication that needs to be refrigerated. We also asked our cabin steward to remove all of the extra decorative and bed pillows, since we bring our own bed pillows.
Dining Voyager in Texas has changed the dining times! The early dinner is at 5:30p and the second seating I believe is at 8:00p. We had early thinking it would be at 6:00pm. 5:30 was pretty early to be ready for dinner and I probably would not do that again. There were plenty of choices on the dining room menu as well as the always-available menu. Royal Caribbean has had these same menus for quite some time and our waiter told us they are in the process of changing them by next year. I think this is overdue if you cruise a lot and would like to see some new dishes. I wish they would bring back the Baked Alaska. The waiter said to put it on my comment card and I did.
In order to spice things up for the Texans, they offered some fun Texas style cuisine by the poolside on the days at sea. One day it was BBQ ribs and chicken and the next day it was a HUGE Chili Cook-off poolside and then open for everyone to try for lunch. Both were nice touches to offer something different from the buffet or dining room.
Now, lets talk about "Johnny Rockets!" YUMMY!!!! For those of you who don't know what this is, it is a 50s style diner located up by the Teen Center and on one of the top decks of the ship. They have both indoor and outdoor booths and a counter for dining. The waiters and waitress dance around to favorite songs and are quite entertaining while you are waiting for your food.
The cost is a modest $3.95 for ALL the food you can eat off the menu -- burgers, Nathan's Hot Dogs, sandwiches, and UNLIMITED fries and the BEST onion rings with both ketchup and Ranch sauce for dipping. You also get unlimited dessert which consists of an Oreo Sundae or Apple Pie! The best $3.95 you can spend! Not to mention the shakes, malts and floats available for purchase if you have room!
The Windjammer Buffet always had plenty of choices for Breakfast, including an omelet station. Lunch had lots to offer, and dinner was available until 10pm, and they were always carving something and had plenty of deserts and salads.
Entertainment The ice show was excellent! I did not go to any of the other variety shows. The piano bar was a lot of fun, and I heard from others that the entertainer in the Pig & Whistle on the Promenade was very good too. We caught a little of the fiddle player one day in the Aquarium Bar and he was incredible! I also really liked the casino on this ship. It never seemed too crowded and the roulette tables had a $1 minimum, which was a lot of fun. They had 3 or 4 roulette tables. A lot of people were also winning on the slots and said they really paid off.
Spa The spa and workout area are very nice and very large on this ship. For free, we enjoyed the VERY large whirlpool that is in the lower level of the spa, just outside the ladies locker room and then enjoyed some time in the steam and sauna, which are also very large rooms, also free! The showers in the locker room are larger than the ones in the cabin and were very nice. I have found that if you go at an off time, like when folks are in the dinner seating, you will have this area all to yourself! What a treat!
The Royal Promenade This is the newest feature on all Royal Caribbean Voyager and Freedom Class ships. It is a street size atrium area that is lined with shops, cafes, and bars. The pursers desk and shore tours desk is in this area too. They have parades and gift shop sales along the middle of the street from time to time and there are plenty of places to sit and have a snack or relax.
This ship also has a two level library as well as an Internet café. There are wireless packages available for those who bring their laptop. Just a reminder at this point, the rooms only had one outlet by the desk, so be sure to bring an extension cord and an outlet strip, so you can plug in your chargers for your phone, mp3, digital camera, curling iron, video camera, etc.
Also, this is the first time on a cruise that I have used my cell phone. I had checked with my provider (Verizon) in advance and they told me it would be 99 cents a minute to call from Mexico and $1.49 a minute to call from Cayman or Jamaica. The charge to use it when the ship is at sea is $2.49 a minute if you are connecting to the ship's tower. I found that I was able to send text messages back home pretty easily and if I could not get a call out, I could text and then receive a call back. This worked out pretty well and was a great way to communicate rather then spend .55 cents a minute in the internet café.
The Ports Montego Bay, Jamaica: There are several excursions available for this port. I would recommend picking one if you have not been to Jamaica before. We opted to take the "Hot Spots Trolley". This is available for purchase in the port building. It is $15 and has three or four stops. The stops were the craft market, the downtown shopping, Margaretville, and Doctors Cove Beach and restaurants. This worked out fine for us to go shopping and have some lunch. The beach was nice, but we decided not to get all sandy.
Grand Cayman: There are also plenty of tours offered for this port. We decided to take a taxi and go to the "Sea Grape" beach area on 7-mile beach. We had been to this area on the last trip to Cayman and knew that it was clean and had a restaurant with shade, bathrooms and showers, and all kinds of beach rentals. The water was warm and clear and the sun was bright. Just a note, don't forget the sunscreen on your shoulders. They will burn quickly! Also, water shoes are very helpful on this beach since there are a lot of shells in the sand. The taxi ride was about $5.00 each way in a shared mini van, of which there are plenty of lined up just after you get off the tender.
As far as the tenders in Grand Cayman, Royal Caribbean gives out tender tickets for about the first two hours the ship is in Cayman, approx. 8 to 10am. After that time, they will announce that tender tickets are no longer necessary and you can proceed right to the gangway and disembark. By the time we were finished with our late breakfast and gathered our things we were able to go right off and not mess with any tickets.
Cozumel: Cozumel is one of my favorite ports. I have been there many times and taken many different tours. Email me if you have any questions on the tours or beaches. This time, we had many things we wanted to see and do. The Voyager docked on the rebuilt International pier. Amazing that the last time we were in Coz, this pier was underwater from the hurricane! They have managed to rebuild it, along with all the shopping spots on the pier. The Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas was parked right next to us on the other side of the pier and was a sight to behold! Email me if you would like pics of the ships! We visited with some friends in Cozumel and went to a hotel inspection of the new "Cozumel Palace," formally the Plaza Las Glorias. We are travel agents, and wanted to see the renovation of this hotel that we have always enjoyed with its great location. All I can say is that it is better then ever! Beautiful rooms, all with Jacuzzi tubs and balconies over the water! Stunning pools, and restaurants. After we left the hotel, we went into town and had a few braids put in our hair and had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants downtown, "Casa Dennis." If you go, order the Sampler platter. You won't be disappointed. After lunch, we stopped off at the NEW Cozumel Starbucks! Amazing Starbucks is now in Cozumel and was very spacious and the drinks are just the same as home! We got back to the pier with just enough time to take some pictures of the ships, do a little bit more shopping, and sail off into the sunset!
The last day of this week was at sea, always a good chance to relax and get in some walking around the deck. It was great to walk both on the outside promenade on deck 4, as well as the walking track on deck 12. We tried to play Scrabble in the card room, but each time we tried we were always told they did not have any games available and that they would try to get one from storage, but never did. Wish we would have know this, because we could have brought one from home. Packing up and putting the luggage out was a breeze. Just toss it all in!
Disembarkation Disembarkation was very easy. Since we live in the Houston area, we were called off by color tag after all the people with flights were gone. We took our time and just stayed in our room. Our steward never bothered us. When it was our turn, we just walked right off. The customs area was a breeze and there are plenty of porters available to help you get through with all of your luggage.
Now that we are back, I miss it already, and know that the only cure for "Post Cruise Blues" is to plan the next one! If you have any questions or would like help with making reservations for your cruise, email me at C2CMarci@yahoo.com.
Just the Facts
Ship: Voyager of the Seas
Dates of Sailing: January 13-January 20, 2008
Captain: Gerry Larsson-Fedde
Entertainment Director: Eric Dowis
Weather: Good all week, warm most days, high seas last day
This is my 7th Royal Caribbean cruise and 2nd on a Voyager class ship. We booked this cruise on May 10, 2006 just after it was announced that the Voyager would sail from Texas and had been looking forward to it for a long time.
Sunday was a big media day for the Voyager with a special Welcome to Texas ceremony. The ship had a huge set of steer horns on the front of the ship and it was decorated with Texas theme banners. A helicopter took video of the ship entering & leaving the harbor. There were invited press and travel agents boarding for inspection.
Day One -- Sunday -- Embarkation Left the Ranch about 7:00 a.m. and had a nice and easy drive to Galveston. Houston traffic was fine, Sundays are usually smooth. We knew that the Voyager would be an hour late this morning so we weren't in a big hurry but we still arrived at EZ Cruiseparking about 11:30. We chose to walk over to the terminal and IMHO is easier than waiting and loading on and off the shuttle. It's only a few blocks and even with rolling our bags it was easy. We went through security with little problem and then to check-in. We went through the regular line as there were so many in the VIP line that it was really not any faster. We expected some delay in boarding due to the media day and it was so. They didn't board until about 12:40. We lucked out on being able to be some of the first aboard though. We were among the very first in the Windjammer and had a very nice lunch. The welcome ice sculpture is beautiful. The food was good and the roast beef was very good as were the desserts. The cabins open at 1:00 so were able to go straight to the cabin after lunch. I noticed all the new No Smoking signs on all the cabin doors. The cabin was not as "ship shape" as we would have preferred, but we'll give the steward an opportunity to correct the problems. We went for a quick tour of the ship exploring the Grand Promenade, Viking Crown Lounge, and Dining Room. We returned to the cabin about 2:15 and our checked bags were already there. We were unpacked and DW took a nap while I went forward to get a photo of the steer horns on the top of the ship. The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the Dallas Cowboys playoff game. As promised to Cruise Critic friends I waved at the port camera as the Conquest moved away from the dock and the Voyager came into camera view. We ordered our usual (on every RCCL cruise) cheese plate and fruit plate from room service, but it was never delivered, even after a second phone call.
The welcome show featured comedian Ralph Achilles and Eric Dowis the Cruise Director. Both who we have seen previously on the Rhapsody. We have late seating dinner in the Magic Flute at 8:30. We have a nice table and good location. I had the Vidalia Onion Tart, Tuscan Tomato Soup, Prime Rib with horseradish, and Savrin for dessert. After a busy day we retired to the cabin.
Day Two -- Monday -- At Sea I had breakfast in the dining room. Eggs Benedict, bacon, & tomato juice. It was very good. After breakfast I picked up tickets for the Ice Skating Show. The Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle was at 11:00 a.m. in the High Notes lounge. We had a very very large group and the entire lounge was full. So many people you couldn't really meet everyone. Eric Dowis the CD was there and they served finger sandwiches, chocolate covered strawberries and petite fours. Eric said that the Captain usually attends, but was unable to due to high winds and he stayed on the bridge. That was interesting to me as I've never seen a Captain at a Meet & Mingle. Eric was very funny and entertaining during the raffle. DW says he is much better than Ralph Achilles. Following the M&M we had cocktails at the Pig & Whistle and people watched on the Promenade. We had lunch in the dining room and they had a build your own pasta station. The carrot cake was very good. We went to the 3:00 ice show, Ice Odyssey. It was excellent and not to be missed. We returned to the cabin to rest and we again ordered the fruit plate and cheese plate for evening cabin/balcony snacks. The Room Service supervisor did call about the non delivery yesterday and we arranged for them to be delivered each day at 5:00 which is perfect for sunset balcony time.
The Captain's reception was held in Cleopatra's Needle and the Grand Promenade for both dinner seatings. Good idea and locations, but it does get crowded. Dinner was very good and this was the first formal night. Escargot, shrimp cocktail, Lobster Bisque, Beef filet, and Grand Mariner Soufflé were my selections. They had a Johnny Cash Tribute show following dinner in the La Scala Theater which was OK. Ralph Achilles followed with a midnight show.
Day Three -- Tuesday -- Cozumel The weather is cloudy with some showers but really ideal as it can be hot in Cozumel. We docked about 8:00 am. at the International pier. There were five ships in Cozumel, four docked and one tendered. I had an omelet in the dining room for breakfast and it was good, not on the menu, but they will fix one for you. We have been to Cozumel many many times over a 25 year (pre cruise ship) period so we had no big excursions planned, just an afternoon in town. We left the ship about 10:30 and took a taxi ($6) to town. We met our friend Nelly at her shop, Mayan Pearl, and DW had a piece repaired and bought a new piece of jewelry. I went to the internet shop and had a hair cut at Antonio's barber shop. Martin has been cutting my hair for over two years. Next stop was Havana Blue for a few rounds of mojitos. They are the best in the Caribbean IMHO. We spent the rest of the afternoon on the square. I had a good beer drinking spot and DW could shop. Several mariachis played our favorites. Some rain moved us from the sidewalk into the restaurant, but it was a great afternoon.
We arrived back at the ship a little before the suggested time of 4:30. As many know one of my favorite things to do in Cozumel is stand on the deck above the gangway and watch the drunks and late comers arrive. This time something different happened, the drunks were already on board (balloon hats & all) and they were yelling down at the people boarding. Different and very funny to me. We didn't have any late passengers and we actually pushed away from the dock a little early. The past guest reception was this evening in Studio B and the entertainment in the La Scala Theatre was Los Pampas Gaucho. Dinner was good, but one of the weaker menus. I had the Tilapia, but also with a steak from the alternative choices and had the BBB for desert. DW said that the Asparagus & Brie Tart on the vegetarian selections was very good. Best vegetarian entrée so far. What did make the dinner special though was the head waiter surprised me with a plate of sliced hearts of palm (one of my favorites) which I ate with my Caesar salad. Very nice. Thank you so much, we would never get them in Bosque county.
Day Four -- Wednesday -- Roatan We arrived by 9:00 a.m. and the weather is great, but perhaps warm for some. Looking south you could see the mountains of the mainland. You can not always see them and I suspect most cruise passengers miss them. The port and immediate area of Coxen Hole seems much cleaner than when we were here last. They seemed to have finished the construction at the pier so that may account for part of it. DW had room service breakfast on the balcony. I tried the omelet station in the Windjammer and my omelet was excellent. There seems to be more people staying on board than I expected, but we still had a good stay on the ship on a port day which we try to do on each cruise in order to take advantage of ship amenities. A little pool time midday, oddly the port side pool was cold and the starboard side was warm. Have no idea why, but it was very noticeable to the guests. In the afternoon we ate at Johnny Rockets. It was very good, DW had a grilled cheese and I had a portion of two different kinds of small hamburgers. The french fries and onion rings are really the best. The malts are also very good. Although there is an additional charge for the Cokes, they were refilled courteously and promptly. I do recommend visiting Johnny Rockets. We rested and walked around the ship this afternoon. Balcony time was very good as we watched the activities of the Costa ship that was anchored near by and watching her sail away was very interesting. The fruit & cheese plates were also enjoyed on the balcony. We went to the ice show again. It was great watching it again as we could anticipate some of the routine which was enjoyable. Fantastic show.
Dinner was good, my selections were the Scallops, Shrimp Cocktail, Chicken Marsala, and Tiramisu for dessert. The Love and Marriage game show was this evening.
Day Five -- Thursday -- at Sea Weather clear and bright. Room service breakfast came right on time. We watched the Love & Marriage show on the cabin TV and Eric Dowis is amazing. A great ad-libber and he makes the now standard cruise show very humorous. Captain Gerry announced during his daily noon update that due to weather they would be moving the departure time in Progreso to 5:00 p.m. We have been enjoying the balcony today, and actually it has become hot, but sounds like we need to enjoy it while we can. We enjoyed lunch in the Windjammer. Roast Pork was on the carving station and it was very good as were the salads and desserts. DW caught the movie in the screening room. I enjoyed balcony time as it has cooled in the afternoon and was very pleasant. The headliner show was before dinner (for late seating) and featured LaRaf a magic and illusion show. It was an interesting show for sure. This was the second formal night and did feature the standard menu with the lobster. I had the Soup, Salad, Seafood Plate (lobster), Prime Rib (excellent), and the Assorted desserts. As mentioned we have a great dining table and during a discussion of the Love & Marriage show some gave their personal answers to some of the featured L&M questions. I've never seen a table laughing so much. Great fun. The Karaoke Superstars followed dinner, but we retired early.
Day Six -- Friday -- Progresso Weather is overcast. We docked about 8:00 a.m. We are backed into port so the aft balcony has a view of the local band and dancers at the dock area. DW had the room service breakfast and I again had an omelet from the omelet bar in the Windjammer. It was great. The weather has cleared somewhat. We watched a movie then went down to the dock and rode the shuttle into Progreso about 11:45 a.m. They have changed somewhat the shuttle area in Progreso for the better. You now unload and load in the municipal building. DW found the shop with the handbags that she was looking for and we picked up some gifts for those watching the dog and feeding the animals back home. We then went to our favorite restaurant, Le Saint Bonnet and just made it headquarters for the day. We sit on the bar side. Basically enjoyed Dos XX and margaritas while watching people and the beach, visiting with vendors & other guests, and listening to mariachis. The wind changed to out of the north which made it very pleasant. We stayed until 4:00 p.m. and started back to the shuttle area which went smooth as we were behind the crowd, arriving back at the dock about 4:30 and on the ship before the 5:00 p.m. request. They have moved up departure from 8:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. due to potential high winds. It was beautiful when we left but better safe than sorry. I think they will appreciate the early start when they hit weather on the way back.
Dinner was good this evening. My selections were the Mulligatawny soup, Tomato Salad, and the Pork Medallions (very good). The first and only production show for our cruise was following dinner. Broadway Rhythm & Rhyme featured the singers and dancers in a Broadway style review show. It was excellent, some of the best singers and dancers I have seen on board a cruise ship.
Day Seven -- Saturday -- at Sea We began going through the strong part of the cold front about 7:00 a.m. Captain Gerry made an early announcement (8:00 am) about the up to 50 knot winds and most outside decks will be closed. Our balcony is protected so we can watch the weather. We each had room service breakfast this morning. First hot items we've asked to be delivered and they were delivered on time and in fine shape. We watched a movie and worked on debarkation paper work in the morning. We were invited to the luncheon for Platinum and Diamond guests at noon. It was in the Magic Flute and it was almost completely full so there are a lot on board. They served three starters, Duck Pate, a small Potato Soup, Shrimp in a tamari sauce and a choice of entrées. I had the Filet Mignon which was very good and they prepared some vegetables and cannelloni for DW. The dessert was a special Chocolate Melting Cake. All the indoor venues are busy as the pools are closed due to the weather. The sea is really rocking & rolling today. I had an appointment with the Loyalty Ambassador this afternoon. For anyone wanting to book a future cruise I recommend making an appointment early in the week. We went to the Farewell Showtime which featured the Orchestra, CD Eric, and Captain Gerry who sang God Bless Texas. Captain Gerry received a deserved standing ovation. The comedian was Karen Mills who was very funny. Dinner was again good. I had the Steak and green salad, again with hearts of palm. After dinner was the Island Frenzy parade in the Royal Promenade. It was great. DW packed during the day and I packed this evening.
Debarkation -- Sunday No room service on debarkation morning, but a full breakfast menu in the dining room. We arrived and turned in the channel for the first time since the VY has been in Galveston. She was starboard side to the terminal. They started allowing the self-debarkation people off just after 8:00 a.m. It was really fairly smooth considering how many people are using it and that we were a bit late. We rolled our bags to EZ Cruise parking and were on our way to fill up and head north. Gas was $2.81 a gallon in Galveston, and we crossed the bridge about 9:15 a.m.
Ship The ship was very clean and well maintained. This was my second time on a Voyager class ship. I am still very impressed. There are good and bad things about the size. There are a lot of people and the pools can be very crowded during peak times. The elevators are always full, but it was much better than my cruise on the Adventure. A big positive is that the additional size also means that there is room for the photo gallery, casino, bars, etc. without any one of them dominating an entire deck. The Aquarium Bar and Champagne Bar (a non smoking bar) are very impressive as are the Studio B, the Theater, and other public spaces. The Grand Promenade is very impressive indeed and must be experienced.
Crew The staff and crew are for the most part very good. The Captain is humorous and was good with his announcements. Listen for his Chinese friend. He also plays in one of the bands and is very good. Our waiters were excellent. The bar staff all very friendly. There were several crew from the Rhapsody, the most visible were "Irky" from Turkey and of course CD Eric Dowis.
Cabin We have cabin 7388 which is an aft wrap with the extended balcony. The balcony is fully covered which is very nice as we are not really sun people. The bathroom has a solid shower door which is a big improvement from RH and the lighting is much better. Our cabin steward is not very good. He really didn't keep my small cooler full of ice as we ran out twice. Once saying he would take care it, but never did. Had to go to the bar for ice twice. The cabin wasn't really very clean when we boarded. Stains on the linens may be overlooked, but not in combination with stains on the couch. Gross. He did improve by the end of the week. Never used the refrigerator. The safe has a button key pad. The cabin could use some updating as well. Balcony is great with 3 chairs, 2 loungers, and 2 tables.
Food Again our dining room is the Magic Flute, deck five (top level) of the 3 level restaurant. It was an eight top table and all three of the other couples are great. All from Texas and all experienced cruisers. That must have been the common denominator for selection. We have been very fortunate on all of our Royal Caribbean cruises as far as dining companions. All have been excellent, they do a much better job than other lines. My two favorite room service items are the Seasonal fruit plate and the International cheese plate. The cheese plate consists of five different cheeses and garnished with a strawberry, walnuts, and dried apricots. It is served with water biscuits or saltines. The fruit plate usually has grapes, pineapple, kiwi, melon, strawberry, and orange slice. Both are great. Johnny Rockets was a good alternative for lunch or afternoon snack. Lunch in the dining room has the same menu each day with one special item that does change daily. All the bread selections are very good on board. The Windjammer buffet is also very good and better than many other lines. There are several ice creme and yogurt machines. You can order room service on the RCTV, but it did not work most of the time.
Room Service We made a standard daily order for both our evening fruit & cheese plates and breakfast. First day our evening order was never delivered. First morning the breakfast was late and missed half the order. Spoke with Armando the room service supervisor. Second evening late. Second morning 1.5+ hours late. Again spoke with Armando. Really did begin to improve on third/forth day and was great by end of cruise.
Cruise Highlights CD Eric Dowis, the Ice Odyssey ice skating shows, the Broadway style Rhythm & Rhyme production show, and Thursday evening's dinner conversation.
Ice: Hopefully the staff and crew will soon learn the importance of ice to Texans. Very little ice in drinks and stateroom ice buckets. Texans want ice in their iced tea, water, and soft drinks and they serve European style with little or NO ice at all. I've passed this recommendation to the hotel manager, room service manager, and anyone else who would listen. I overheard a conversation on the elevator and it seems some passengers took it upon themselves and commandeered the ice machine on one deck early in the cruise. I did notice that it already seemed to improve by the end of the cruise.
RCTV: The CBS Eye on Royal Caribbean repeats the same two shows, it is supposed to be a different show each day. Also the schedule in the Cruise Compass for movies in the screening room is different from what is listed at the screening room. The picture itself in the screening room is poor quality. And the room service ordering on the TV doesn't show all the items available.
Texanization The ice is already addressed. They do have salsa, but it's NYC salsa (if you know what I mean). I was impressed that they do have Jalapeños for omelets, etc. They do have Ranch dressing on the buffet, but not in dining room as yet. I bet that changes soon as well. Some guests requested other condiments for the baked potatoes as only sour creme is offered. The staff was friendly enough and they will improve just by association with the Texas passengers. It will never be what the Rhapsody was to Texans, but they are making great attempts.
Final Comments They really seem to do a very good job of scheduling the entertainment and production shows and then coordinating them with the various receptions and other events. The additional public rooms on a Voyager class ship certainly help. The new dance/singing production team boarded with us so we only had one production show. That should improve in future sailings, but we attended the ice show twice which we enjoyed very much.
Overall a fantastic cruise!! We are already booked for next year!
There is an old saying that the third time is a charm and this, our third cruise on the Voyager of the Seas, was definitely charming. We call our January trips "Anniversary Cruises" since we were married January 26, 1969. So this was our 38th anniversary and along with us to help celebrate the occasion were our son Marcello, his lovely wife Paige and their son Marcellino (almost 5 years old). Thus, we were treated to a view of cruising through the eyes of a child. It was a whole new angle for us --- and we learned a lot about how wonderful Royal Caribbean International (RCI) is to the next generation of cruisers!
The Voyager Class of ships includes the Explorer of the Seas, the Adventure of the Seas, the Navigator of the Seas, and the Mariner of the Seas --- all constructed between 1999 and 2003, they were the largest RCI cruise ships afloat until the launching of the Freedom of the Seas in 2006. It is the most innovative class of ships and architect Njal R. Eide has designed contemporary interiors which far surpass the openness and impressivenessof any ships which came before. The Grand Promenade for Mr. Eide is influenced by the "Town Center." Here there is a small town atmosphere where parades, music and shops all meld together to create a "Main Street" effect far beyond any other ship board sensation. The four deck promenade creates an immense open space which is also found in the three tiered dining rooms. Mr. Eide designed these huge open spaces to be awesome and they are. The grand chandelier beautifully radiates golden light over the diners.
During this cruise we met old friends such as the following: Hotel Director Gordon Shenk, Cruise Director Kirk Detweiler, Maitre D' Paulo Alves and Concierge Martin Sanchez. We also made some fantastic new friends including the very competent Captain Charles Teige (Norway) and the youthful Executive Chef Ivo Jahn (Germany). Returning to RCI is always like coming home.
EMBARKATION Port of Miami is just off I-95, a busy interstate which is not too crowded on a Saturday at noon. We decided to leave our Jeep Commander in the Port Parking Garage, so we didn't need a limo or two cars to get to the pier. Five people, luggage and a wheelchair all fit comfortably. Boarding time was listed at 2:00 pm, but we were on by 1:15 pm. Check in was well organized and we had wheelchair assistance, by the very friendly Victor, all the way to our suites.
THE SHIP Having recently sailed on the Freedom of the Seas, currently the largest ship in the world, we were happy to be back on the Voyager of the Seas. The Freedom has everything the Voyager has, but only more of it. Yet, the Freedom's size can be a bit daunting and the number of passengers are so many more. For Crown & Anchor Diamond members, the Freedom's evening Cocktail Parties were a "Crush of Cruisers." It was almost like a New Year's Eve Celebration every night. We find each class of ship has special qualities to be enjoyed. The Voyager has both the Concierge's Lounge and Cloud Nine on Deck 14 hosting evening Cocktails for Suite occupants and Diamond members.
Organization on board is terrific under Hotel Director Gordon Shenk. We first saw this at the Welcome Aboard buffet --- where passengers were directed to areas less crowded, and we avoided long lines and easily found a nice table with a view of Miami. Our grandson Marcellino was tagged with a wrist band as soon as we boarded. He was told that he was part of the Youth Evacuation Program (YEP) and that whenever and wherever he was in the Ocean Adventure Program, he would be taken directly to his parents' Assembly Station. Once he understood the importance of his green bracelet he was happy and proud to wear it. That same evening he was registered to the Adventure Ocean Program. Marcellino was enthusiastic to go to these programs all week long --- mornings, afternoons and evenings were all for free. He enjoyed the crafts, face painting, games and especially loved the "Cars" night and the movie; moreover, he was happy to win some prizes in games and competitions. There was also baby-sitting available. The family ate together at meals, but had independence during the rest of the day and night.
The Voyager was built in 1999 and refurbished in 2004 and she is in excellent condition. She is 138,000 gross tons; 1,020 feet long and has a beam of 158 feet. Her passenger capacity is 3,835 and a crew of 1,179. She is extremely beautiful and loaded with over 4,000 pieces of art. Her Roman style Solarium with pool and hot tubs is decorated with tasteful classic statuary.
FOOD & SERVICE The Voyager of the Seas has the advantage of the RCI homogeneity in food. Across its fleet RCI has striven for equality in both offerings and presentation. The breads were well cooked and a nice variety of both white and whole grains and specialty (banana bread, corn muffins, ciabatta, sourdough and savory rolls). The salads are varied and crisp. The appetizers are many and tempting. Entrees include meat, fish, fowl, vegetarian and pastas. All steaks and prime ribs are succulent and cooked to one's preference. The Cod fish is exceptionally good. The children's menu is very nice with chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, the best and crispiest French Fries, fresh fruit cups, and chocolate milk, all Marcellino's favorites. Desserts are many and interesting: Melting chocolate cake, soufflés, pies (some sugar free), profiteroles, baked Alaska, ice creams and, of course, RCI's special huge cookies.
Executive Chef Ivo Jahn took us on a wonderful private tour of the Galley. This is truly the heart of the ship and daily from here over 15,000 meals are made and served, plus snacks, hors d'oeurves and cakes for parties. On our first night we dined on Deck 3 at a huge table for 12 at the rear of the dining room. We went to our assigned table early, while Mary stopped to see Maitre D' Paulo; he said that he would have a smaller table for us the next night, near the entrance. We don't enjoy disturbing other diners every night going through the dining room with the wheelchair. Paulo was besieged by people that night, including an unreasonable woman who held up the line demanding the impossible, immediately. We had a wonderful meal the first night too, but true to his word Paulo had a table for us the next night, right near the door on Deck 5, The Magic Flute dining room. At table #538 we had excellent service from our waiter Donald and his assistant Lee. The head waiter Sebastiano was both cordial and enjoyed speaking with Vincent in Italian. Throughout the cruise at the next table was Victor our new friend from boarding. Of course, Marcellino was treated like a Prince with special chocolate milk, Jell-O, cookies and even an impromptu puppet show, etc.
As usual the best meal on board is always at the Captain's table. The combination of the traditional walk down the triple staircase in procession with the guests led by Captain Charles Teige and the stately dining room all aglow is very grand. Mary and Vincent took the elevator. Captain Teige is both worldly and marine knowledgeable. Service under the watchful eye of Maitre D' Paulo was tip top --- we had a nicely paced meal and excellent conversation. Maryland Crab Cake, New England Clam Chowder, Captain Charles' Salad (Lobster arranged in a natural avocado bowl and dressed lightly), and choice of Salmon, Lamb or Pork chops were the order of the night. Executive Chef Ivo outdid himself!
Service throughout the ship is friendly and quick. We had breakfast in our suite each morning and it was full American: eggs, bacon, hash brown potatoes, fruit, cereal and hot coffee and chocolate. It was always punctual and excellent. Room service was definitely superior. Marcellino enjoyed eating at Johnny Rockets (the 1950's diner). We did too, the Juke Box music, the dancing wait staff and not to mention the great hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, onion rings and chili ($3.95 per person) gave us a trip back down memory lane. There is also Portofino's upscale Italian Restaurant ($20 per person).
CABIN Suite # 1270 on Deck 10 is a large suite with an excellent floor plan. The bathroom has granite cabinet tops, a huge medicine chest with a double sink, and bathtub. There is a king size bed with a tufted floor to ceiling head board, two reading lamp sconces, and night stands. The floors are travertine and marble and blue carpeting. There is a mirrored vanity/desk. Entering on the left there are mirrored armoires with hangers, then a granite bar with refrigerator and draws. The cabinet wood is light maple with dark mahogany trim. There is a sleeper sofa, two comfortable upholstered chairs, an end table and a large coffee table, both of light maple with glass tops. The drapes are gold and blue like the chairs. There is a drape to separate the bedroom from the living room. The far wall is all windows and a sliding door to the double size balcony with a recliner, three chairs and a table.
Our steward was Zigi Sanchez who made us feel at home and always anticipated all our needs. His service was so outstanding that we never wanted to leave the ship at the end of the cruise.
ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Kirk Detweiler is an accomplished musician, (composer and singer) who leads the entertainment on board. He adds to the upbeat ambiance during the cruise. We were happy to see him once again. The La Scala Theater presented top comedians like Rick Corso and production shows like "Music in Motion" and the rocking "Beatle Maniacs" who do a great show entitled "The Complete Beatles Experience." Excellent! "Broadway Rhythm and Rhyme" is another of the spectaculars. The Latin Beat of El Gaucho Dario Alberico is very exciting.
The highlight of the Voyager Class is the ice skating show. This time it was no different with the "Ice Odyssey Showtime," featuring Russian skating star Marina Karamycheva. Both she and the rest of the cast were terrific on the 30 by 60 foot rink.
There are a multitude of activities from Trivia, Bingo, Casino Games to ping pong, ice skating, in-line skating, golf simulator, volleyball, shuffleboard, basketball, the Rock Climbing Wall, Sports fitness, Spa offerings, etc. There are Exploration Tours in Ports of Call and programs for Aqua Babies (under 3 years old), Children and Teen activities with qualified educators. There is something for everyone --- "Get Out There!"PORTS OF CALL
Day 1. Port of Miami Depart 5:00 pm
Day 2. Nassau, Bahamas Arrive 7:00 am Depart 1:00 pm An interesting tour is a visit to the Atlantis Hotel and its beautiful aquarium on Paradise Island.
Day 3. At sea
Day 4. St. Thomas, USVI Arrive 8:00 am Depart 6: pm This Island is one of the best shopping places in the Eastern Caribbean. "Mr. Table Cloth" is Mary's favorite for linens.
Day 5. San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive 7:00 am Depart 2:00 pm A city tour with visits at Fuerte San Cristobal and El Morro gives an historical perspective to the visitors.
Day 6. Labadee, Haiti Arrive 8:30 am Depart 4:00 pm Here the passengers enjoy a picnic on the beach and several water sports: Wave runners, Parasailing and snorkeling.
Day 7. At sea
Day 8. Miami, Arrive 7:00 am
DISEMBARKATION Although we were warned that security clearance may take hours, the ship was cleared for disembarkation at 8:30 am. First off are those who desire to carry off all their own luggage. We prefer to locate our luggage on the pier, just prior to customs and have a porter assist us. Our color was called at 9:00 am and we were through customs and headed for the parking garage by 9:15 am and on I-95 headed home at 9:30 am. Excellent!
CONCLUSION This was our 67th cruise and we enjoyed everyone; however, some cruises are better than others. This cruise was one of the better ones, since we love the ship, but most of all we love to see our family members, especially our grandson, have a lot of fun and be happy, and we all had a lot of fun! The last family cruise was in Oct. 2003 on the Explorer of the Seas which we enjoyed, but this one was better since our grandson is now approaching 5 years old and is socially able to participate in children's activities. We feel that the Voyager class ships offer more activities for passengers of all ages, thus it was the right choice for this family cruise.
We have now booked two more transatlantic cruises on RCI ships, one in April, from Miami to Southampton, England on the Navigator of the Seas, combined with a three weeks trip to Italy, and the other westbound in October on the Jewel of the Seas. We love the transatlantic crossing with the many days at sea. We expect, however, to book other cruises before and in between these two crossings. Happy Cruising!
My husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary and booked a one week Med cruise aboard Voyager of the Seas with Royal Carribean. The ship is undeniably stunning and decor on-board stunning. Sports facilities for the fitness fanatic were excellent and children's play areas fun-filled with kids' happy faces. Entertainment programme was good and special praise must be given to the spectacular ice show.
However, from the moment cruisers board the ship, they are bombarded with pleas and demands for tips and gratuities. Royal Caribbean include the begging in every media available - the cabin video, the daily newsletter, the Captain's presentation, the bingo caller not to mention the staff themselves. We are regular tippers however by the end of the week we were fed up and not just a little bit offended. Incidentally, although the level of service was generally satisfactory, on occasion it was not so. Examples include room attendant unwilling to iron a shirt, barmen unable to serve correct drinks order, pushy waiter coercing me into accepting an unwanted escargot dish instead of the desired scallops on order.
We took advantage of the wide range of treatments available at the Healthand Beauty Spa onboard but felt sorely stung when the bill did not reflect the advertised prices as 16% tax was added along with ....service charge.
The ports of call included Ville de France and Bay of Naples which were both splendidly picturesque and easily accessible (we plan to return in the future). However on the other hand Marseilles, Livorno and Rome were industrial harbours which required an expensive taxi ride or long train journey to visit the tourist centres. Royal Carribean take advantage of this by offering a good range of bus tours which are unfortunately overpriced and (according to other fellow cruisers) not value for money.
The mother of all gripes occured on day 6 of our holiday when my husband felt unwell and we decided to seek medical advice from the ship's doctor. After a 30 min examination, he diagnosed heartburn (wrong as less than 8 hours later it transpired to be a virus as he battled a soaring temperature). It was me then who nearly fainted when the medical bill arrived - a whopping 1266 US dollars!
Our holiday was not the holiday from hell but a disappointing cruising experience. On a lighter note, the highlight of our trip was the time spent with our six fabulous dining companions who made the cruise worthwhile. We will probably cruise again but definitely not with Royal Carribean.
We have just returned from the first Mediterranean cruise the Voyager of the Seas had and must say that it was most enjoyable. It was our 4th cruise with Royal Caribbean International. Although the route was very similar to the one we had on the Brilliance of the Seas in 2003, the itinerary was excellent in view of the fact that we had only one day at sea.
There are also noticeable refurbishments done to the ship, new carpets and new decorations. The food was also much better than we had on the same ship when traveling from New York to Canada.
I know it is impossible for everybody to get a cabin in the middle of the ship, but it was a blessing in disguise. The previous time we were in the front of the ship and walked ourselves to death to get to the other side. This time it was either to the left or to the right.
We were very fortunate to sail very close to Corsica because of an emergency on board. A person had to be taken to the hospital in Corsica on our second day(it was our day at sea). It was spectacular to see the limestone rocks with all the caves and azure seas. The city of Bonafaccio lies on the top of the island with a long city wall. Everybody was on deck to take pictures and videos. We hope that the person who was taken to hospital is fine and had recovered completely.
I have a few complaints i e:
We were sailing in the Mediterranean and it was supposed to be early summer, our weather was as expected, clear, but a bit chilly still. The temperature in the public areas however was extremely cold. If you dress to have breakfast in the Windjammer before you go on an excursion and it is a nice and sunny day outside you will have to go back to your cabin to get rid warm clothing. It is impossible to walk in the passages and public areas with a sleeveless top, it is just too cold. Formal nights were a nightmare with sleeveless gowns and a cold diningroom, promenade deck and bars.
They have also changed the time for the late dining room seating from 21h00 to 21h30. We never left our table earlier than 23h30, because food is served for all at the table at the same time, no matter if you eat a starter or salad before your entrée. In the past the shows for the late seating were before you go for dinner, now it is afterwards! The shows only start at 23h30. Most of the excursions are very early, the one for Lucca was at 7h00 and you are supposed to be there 15 min before the actual time. So be prepared for just a little sleep if you must still eat breakfast and go on an excursion the next morning after you have been to a show the previous night.
We actually have skipped most of the shows, just because of the fact it was too late.
Our cabin's remote control for the TV did also not work.
The drinks on the ship are very expensive and forget to buy something at the duty free shop to take to your cabin with corkage as in the past. It is just not allowed to bring any alcohol to your cabin. The waiters in the Viking Crown Lounge are hopeless, except for one girl. The other could hardy understand English and if they repeat your order it is some funny stuff that comes out and we were twice served with the wrong drinks.
I think Johnny Rockets is a horrible little restaurant. The decoration is like an old café of the sixties and the burgers are really not worth the effort.
As I have mentioned before the itinerary is good and the excursions worthwhile, except that some of the French tour guides cannot speak English even if they try to. The one who took us to Cassis was hopeless. I hoped that she will keep quiet on the return trip, but unfortunately she struggled on until we reached the ship. She was talking of a "donk" (donkey) and a "moo" (cow) and the rest of the sentences were just a hum and ha between some hardly understandable words.
Embarkation was a song as well as debarkation. We have opted for the Royal Caribbean bus to take us to the airport and they were so well organized! I will recommend their transport to the airport any time apart from the fact that it is more expensive than a taxi. The busses wait for you the moment you get your baggage and off you go.
We will recommend Royal Caribbean anytime apart from the few complaints.