Royal Caribbean International (RCI) Voyager of the Seas, built in 1999, sailed from the Kvaerner Masa Ship Yard in Turku, Finland as the largest cruise ship afloat. The Voyager and her sister ships, the Explorer, Adventure, Navigator and Mariner jointly held this honored title until the Queen Mary II arrived in January 2004. Now RCI will reclaim the title in May 2006 when the first of the new "Ultra Voyager Class" comes on line as the Freedom of the Seas at 160,000 gross tons. It's hard to believe that such large ships will soon be almost common place.
In just five years, all five Voyager Class ships have been completed and are now amazing cruisers on a weekly basis. Of course, boarding a vessel with such dimensions of 142,000 gross tonnage, 1,021 feet in length, a beam of 157.5 feet, with a draft of only 29 feet and a cruising speed of 22 knots will never seem "common place." However, to the 3,114 (double occupancy) passengers who weekly sail aboard the Voyager, or anyone of her sister ships, it still remains an extraordinary sea going experience. The Voyager was appropriately christened byfigure skating star Katerina Witt (twice Olympic gold), since it is the first ship with an ice-skating rink. Other innovative highlights of these ships are the rock climbing wall, the in-line skating track, a sports court for volleyball or basketball and most impressive is the inside four deck high Royal Promenade, stretching like a city block between the forward and aft Centrums, lined with shops, bars and a cafe`, here cruisers can stroll, watch jugglers or a parade, enjoy an ice cream, coffee or beer seated in the pub.
Her size and amenities made her first Captain Svein Pettersen dub her "A city at sea." When we first sailed on her in January 2000, Captain Nyseter was equally in awe of the Voyager. Her present Captain Erik Tengelsen is also enamored of this "Grand Dowager" the Voyager of the Seas. Captain Tengelsen of Oslo, Norway is one of those "pure" sailors who worked his way up through the ranks and possesses a deep knowledge of both ships and sea ports of the world. His pride in the Voyager is evident in his discussions of the latest naval engineering features such as the advanced navigation technology and the Azipods which allow sideways maneuverability of these "behemoths." Tengelsen is both a scholar of ships and a fine gentleman captain: Throughout this cruise we heard many compliments on the ship's smooth sailing, which he casually attributed to her size. However, we know he is an excellent Master.
EMBARKATION A Saturday or Sunday departure from Miami is a Godsend, since traffic is minimal. We arrived at the Port of Miami at noon and as Crown & Anchor Diamond members had priority check-in and were on board by 12:30pm. We heard passengers lamenting about late boarding; however, the boarding time listed on the cruise schedule is 2:00pm; therefore, most passengers actually boarded early. Repeat cruisers on RCI will enjoy the many benefits of the Crown & Anchor Society (depending on the membership level) : Priority boarding and debarkation, valuable coupons for drinks, souvenirs, Bingo and Casino, discounts at the Health Spa and shops, the use of the Concierge Lounge, upgrades and private cocktail parties, etc. These can all be explained by the Loyalty Ambassadors on board. We met with L.A. Ruth Ranola an energetic and upbeat lady, who answered our many questions about future cruises.
THE SHIP The Voyager is in excellent condition and has held up well under a weekly onslaught of between 3000 to 3500 passengers. Now in her sixth year, there are only minor vestiges of wear and tear, mostly in upholstery and carpeting. Though not as pristine as when we first sailed on her, she is still elegant with some patina! Hotel Director Richard Nentwich, Food & Beverage Manager Michael Ochmann and Marketing & Revenue Manager Michael Gillespie, run a smooth ship: A ship which displays art worth over $12 million.
Deck 1. It holds the Medical Facilities and Tender Stations.
Deck 2. It has the Conference Center forward and staterooms midship.
Deck 3. The Carmen Dining Room is located aft. This is a three tier gold and white operatic theme restaurant, with an extraordinary Kalmar Austrian Crystal Chandelier as the focal point. Next is the Art and Photo Gallery, with a fine collection of celebrity photos including those by renown photographers such as Stern, Ritts, D'Orazio, and Rolston. The base of Larry Kirkland's Centrum Mobile "The Dancer & the Tutu" is located here. Entrances to Studio B, and the Ice Center are midship, near a display of several antique radios (Crosley and Atwater Kent) depicting a history of broadcasting. Also here is the Vault Nightclub with all chrome and steel walls evoking the image of a bank vault minimally decorated with primary colors. Forward is the entrance to the main level of La Scala Theatre.
Deck 4. Aft is La Boheme dining Room, then the Aquarium Bar with its walls of natural coral and a fine collection of tropical fish. This is a nice relaxing place to sit. Midship is the the Casino Royale featuring a stylized dancer in Top Hat & Tails and a Flapper from the Roaring Twenties and songs of the same period: "High Society," "Stepping Out," "Putting on the Ritz," and "Ain't We got Fun." Then there is the upper level of the Vault with its palm print entrance panel. Nearby is the Schooner Bar with its naval memorabilia and its smell of creosote soaked ropes. Forward is the entrance to the balcony of the five deck tall La Scala Theatre. It has very comfortable rose colored seats, several poles, but still with an excellent view of the stage from most seats. Its beauty lies in its simplicity and dramatic crystal beaded geometric curtain. Near the entrance is Lorenzini's "Soubrette Fin di Siecle" a la Streisand in "Hello Dolly." It is a larger than life wooden marionette, a nice touch.
Deck 5. Here is the Royal Promenade, a concept which distinguishes the Voyager Class from all others. Its four deck height allows for inside cabins to have windows overlooking a beautiful street scene: punctuated throughout the cruise with parades, strolling musicians and comedic actors. Voyager's "Over the Centuries" theme can be seen here in the eclectic art work representing many centuries and cultures. At one end of the Promenade is Cleopatra's Needle (a copy of the famous Egyptian Obelisk now in London). Beyond the obelisk is a vestibule lined with huge Pharaoh statues and other Egyptian artifacts. The art representing many centuries from ancient to modern --- leads passengers on a veritable voyage through time. An eye catcher on the Promenade is an antique red Morgan roadster (donated by RCI's CEO Richard D. Fain). A one week cruise is not enough to see and admire it all.
The Royal Promenade has the Cafe` Promenade (serving Seattle's Best Coffee and Ben & Jerry's ice cream), a real pub "Pig and Whistle," a General Store, Logo Shops, Perfume and Jewelry Shops, the Champagne Bar, the Scoreboard Bar and a cigar Connoisseur Club (go out the back door for access to the Forward Observation Point & Helicopter Pad). Also on Deck 5 are the Guest Relations and Tour Desks. Each end of the Promenade has an atrium (Centrum) and sets of elevators. All the way aft is the top balcony of the Dining Room --- The Magic Flute. Here is the best view of the fantastic chandelier --- from above the delicate chains of crystals and its golden illumination are more fully appreciated.
Deck 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 are mostly staterooms. On Deck 6, adjacent to the rear elevators, are the Business Services and the Loyalty Ambassador's desk. On Deck 7 in the same area is the Library. On Deck 8 is the Online Computer Services. On Deck 9 is the Concierge Club overseen by the very capable Teresa Jamieson with amenities and services for passengers in suites and Crown & Anchor Diamond members. Deck 10 forward is the Bridge.
Deck 11. Aft is the entrance to the Windjammer Cafe` (Buffet dining) where Chris Manley's carved wooden birds are displayed: The anhinga is stunning. Here are also the upscale restaurant Portofino and the Island Grill. Midship is the area with the main swimming pools and whirlpools, Pool Bar and deck chairs. Then there is the Solarium with a swimming pool and 2 large whirlpools (Vincent's favorite) beautifully decorated with replicas of famous Greek and Roman statues and mosaics. Forward is the Spa and the Shipshape Fitness Center.
Deck 12. Aft is Adventure Beach, dedicated to children activities, with a kids' pool and play area. Next is the Ocean Club with video arcade and games and then there is the Teen Disco Optix. Here is also the popular Johnny Rockets 50's diner, with naugahyde booths and jukebox, serving great hamburgers, crunchy fries and delicious milk shakes, a nice trip to "memory lane" for some of us. Midship is the jogging track and deck chairs and forward is the upper level of the Spa and Fitness Center.
Decks 13. This deck is dedicated to outdoor activities: a sports court for basketball or volleyball, a 9-hole mini golf course and the rock climbing wall.
Deck 14. Here are the Crow's Nest Observatory, the Viking Crown and Cloud Nine Lounges, the 19th Hole Bar and the Seven Hearts card room. All with a beautiful surrounding view of the pool deck and ocean.
Deck 15. On top of everything is the Skylight Chapel. Quite a lot to see and do for all ages!
CABIN Cabin 7600 is wheelchair accessible and one which we have occupied on all of the Voyager Class ships several times. When entering on the right there are two large armoires with shelves. Then, there is a king size bed with a turquoise suede head board and two night stands with reading lamps. When entering on the right there is the huge tiled bathroom with sink and medicine cabinet located in the corner --- a 5'x5' shower with safety rails nicely placed. There is a sofa, a large coffee table, a TV, refrigerator and finally a desk/vanity. The far wall is all glassed and the balcony holds two lounge chairs and a table. The steward, Wayne McDuffus, took care of everything when we were out, yet, was handy whenever we called. What more can passengers ask for; he was pleasant, polite and very efficient.
FOOD & SERVICE Under Maitre D' Maurizio Curcio there is a wonderful dining atmosphere. The pace of the service is neither too rushed or too slow. Food preparation is directed by Executive Chef Danilo Austero and his 130 chefs: fresh, well executed and nicely plated. A variety of offerings allows for every palate to be pleased. They prepare over 16,000 meals and snacks daily. Our table for four in the Magic Flute Dining Room was aptly served by the Waiter Dino La Cayo and his assistant Diosdado Langress under Head Waiter Cetin Bolat. All were excellent.
The Luncheon Menu in the dining room is fixed for every day; the only part that changes is the special which consists of an appetizer, an entree and a dessert. There is also a pasta buffet where individual specialties are made on order (i.e.. garlic, shrimp, marinara, etc.) There is great food everywhere onboard and room service was superb. Each morning breakfast in the cabin was on time and piping hot. There is an average wait of 45 minutes for room service, after all this is a huge ship with thousands of passengers.
We spent our 36th Wedding Anniversary Dinner at Captain Tengelsen's table. It was a memorable meal presented by the Maitre D' Maurizio: San Padre crab cakes, New England clam chowder (this was excellent), mixed California greens salad, and the entrees were superb. Mary had the Seafood Pasta Aragosta (fettuccine with lobster, sea scallops and prawns in a creamy sauce) which she enjoyed very much; Vincent had the Filet Mignon Madagascar, which he declared perfectly done. Our friendly Captain pronounced the dessert a hit (a delicate chocolate basket filled with wild berries and mousse).
Great company, great food and then the perfect ending to the evening was the show in La Scala Theatre featuring the international celebrity Charo (more on her later). Back to food, there are specialty restaurants offered for an additional charge: The Johnny Rockets, 50's style diner ($3.95pp) and the Portofino, upscale restaurant, reservation recommended ($20pp).
ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Becky Thomson is gorgeous and upbeat. We first met her when she was part of the start-up team of Voyager. RCI offers a greater variety of entertainment and activities than any other line: the Ice Skating Rink, Rock Climbing wall, a full basketball court, golf, shuffleboard, ping pong, swimming, Ship Shape Fitness Center and Spa. There is also the Casino Royale, Trivia, Bingo, etc. There are the nightly shows; this cruise Charo brought the audience to its feet by singing beautiful songs, telling hilarious jokes and, most of all, with her classical guitar playing for which she has won many international acclaims and awards. She was a student of Segovia and played with the Xavier Cugat band. She did an exquisite performance of Ravel's Bolero and Malaguena. She is beautiful, funny and a consummate performer. Another highlight of this cruise was RCI "Ice Jammin" a live ice skating show with Olympic level performances by an international cast. Our favorite skater was Nikki from Canada. Previously RCI passed out programs listing both performers and musical pieces; we missed the playlets. This program was sensational and the skaters were wonderful. Entertainment on board was terrific.
PORTS OF CALL Due to Vincent's limited mobility and to the fact that we have visited these ports many times before, we did not take any shore excursions. Thus we refer the readers for information on these ports to our other reviews. Day 1. Miami, Florida Departure 5:00pm Day 2. Nassau, Bahamas Arrive 7:00am Departure 1:00pm Day 3. At Sea Day 4. Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas Arrive 7:00am Departure 5:00pm Day 5. San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive 7:00am Departure 2:00pm Day 6. Labadee, Haiti Arrive 8:00am Departure 4:00pm Day 7. At Sea Day 8. Miami, Florida Arrive 8:30am
CONCLUSION We had cruised on the Voyager five years ago, in January 2000, and were amazed by the immense dimensions of this "giga" ship and, most of all, by the many innovative features first seen at sea. Since then we have cruised on all the Voyager Class ships, thus it is sort of deja` vu; however, now we spend more time going around and admiring the individual pieces of artwork which decorate the various areas of these ships. It is like visiting a museum. Each day we tour different areas, take the time to enjoy the interesting sights, learn something new, and .... "smell the roses!" (as the old saying goes). We are addicted to cruising. This was our 49th cruise and our 24th on RCI ships, thus it is evident that RCI is one of our favorite cruise lines. The main reason is that the perks and benefits offered to the members of the Crown & Anchor Society are substantial, especially to those repeaters who have achieved the Platinum and Diamond levels. We are looking forward to sailing on the Radiance, in March, which will be our 25th RCI cruise giving us the Diamond Plus status with more benefits and a greater chance of an upgrade. Happy Cruising!
Embarkation took no more than a total of half hour from the time we dropped our luggage to the time we were on board. Everything about the ship wqs just great. An extremelt well appointed cabin - inside-,with lots of drawer and closet space allowing us lots of room and no suitcases in sight. The staff were always ready and totally professional. The dinning room staff were efficient, friendly and very courteous. The shows, top quality. The facilities, the best I have seen on a ship of any size. An adult only pool, was a great plus when you need to enjoy the sun and water without too much of a crowd. Dinner, on this 9 day cruise was faitr with 5 days excellent but 4 days that need a lot of work and improvement.Breakfats and lunch were great; at lunch we had a wonderful pasta center with attentive chefs doing the preparations as you wanted. There was so much to do that you just cannot do all of it.
Kudos to the staff and to Richard Spacey, the Cruise Director... top shelf !!!!
Would I cruise on on this ship oron RCCL, of course but please, IMPROVE the dinner menu - not a point of attraction.
This Voyager cruise was a sheer delight. The only lines were those who like to queue up well before their appointed dinner hour. We ate in the dining room every night, arriving about 5-10 minutes after they promptly opened the doors for our seating, and walked straight to our table. Embarkation took much longer than expected, but due to no fault of Royal Caribbean. The ship was still debarking passengers at 5 p.m. although the ship arrived just before noon. We learned from several staff onboard that U.S. Customs apparently had some tip-off of some passengers trying to smuggle in drugs and therefore did an extremely thorough search of the ship before clearing anyone to get off. After several hours for this, the debarkation process for our 10 p.m. sailing began; however, by that time, hours and hours of baggage had accumulated with the porters who were a bit overwhelmed by it all but our luggage was at our cabin door by 9 p.m. Plus cars and other transportation to pick up debarking passengers were competing with the same trying to drop off embarking passengers or luggage or both. From reviews onother sites of subsequent cruises, people got promptly through embarkation and didn't have to sit in the huge reception area waiting for such a delayed debarkation as occurred on 5/30.
The parking lot at Bayonne is huge, charges $12 per day payable in cash or major credit card, and is adjacent to the embarkation/debarkation center. It is best to drop off your luggage with the porter first, re-circle the building and pull into the parking lot. The shuttle buses are not like those at airports and have no space of luggage, only people. It takes about 5 minutes to walk to a car deep in the lot from the terminal building so just bypass the shuttle. The pavement of the lot needs repair so pulling your suitcases is a bit of an adventure .. but so to is cruising! (smile)
My 6th cruise, 4th with RCI and first on a Voyager class ship! In a 'nutshell' this was the GRANDIST ship I have been on to date. I did not book this cruise for the itinerary, but for the ship itself. Since I am only a short 2 hour drive from Cape Liberty it was a perfect opportunity to sail on the Voyager. I know Cape Liberty, NJ is new and an excellent alternative to driving into NYC, however they have a lot to learn.
We arrived around 2PM and didn't board until around 5:15 or so? There was a delay of disembarking pax from the previous sailing so we had to sit on plastic patio type chairs for the 3+ hour wait...was very uncomfortable! This in no way ruined the excellent time we had on board the Voyager of the Seas! She is enormous and there was never a dull moment from parties and parades on the Royal Promenade, miniture golfing, the list goes on. We booked a Promenade view stateroom on deck 7...it was larger than what I have had before on other Royal Caribbean ships, but didn'tcare for the fact you needed to keep the curtains closed most of the time otherwise people can look right into your cabin! Ports of call were St. John, NB and Halifax, NS. Weather was cool and overcast, but it never rained the entire trip. We spent more time aboard the ship than in port as I said didn't book for the ports of call. Looking forward to sailing on of the Voyager's sister ships, but definately a Caribbean itinery next time!
This was a repositioning cruise of the Voyager. I am a veteran of many cruises and none of them compare with the Voyager. As others have declared the ship is great and the service excellent, I found that the cuisine was far superior to any of the other ships I have been on. The serving sizes were not of glutton preportions and everything was presented nicely.
Most outstanding about the Voyager is the Captain. Captain Hansen was everywhere and engaged with the passengers at all times. He was on the bridge, when we were given tour of the galley he was there inspecting, Each meal found him sitting with a different group and when there was a cooking contest between the passengers and crew, Captain Hansen was on the crew team. I think this attitude passed down to the crew and explains the great cruise.
I am not sure if I will ever be happy on any other ship.
One hour to board even though all documents done on line.Food is definitely on decline and Portafino special not worth the extra fee The only positive here was that desserts outstanding.One waiter for our table of ten and he also had to handle all of the wine pouringNo cheese offered even though showing on menu. Rcl needs to revise their buffet line and have special station. Too many lines with passengers waiting up to one hr. for free ice show tickets. Lunch menu the same every day in dining room with the addition of one special item.They do have a pasta station set up every day which is a nice touch.Gettin off the ship was an absolute nitemare and many will be missing their flights.
Without mentioning names was told by long term employee that food was being cut back and they did not see how Celebrity coud be doing so well in their Olympic dining room on Millinnium with so many waiters. Carnival also does better job in their special restaurant.This line does have a good following and on a large ship such as this one there is a lotto do.The secret of this ship is that they have one of the best cruise directors I have ever been associated with after some 30 cruises.The ice show is a real plus and definitely is first class and not to be missed There are 4 shows to pick from and they should not make you wait up to one hr.for tickets.They also ran out of numerous items on the last day at breakfest. They are appealing to a wide range of age groups and they do have activaties for all.All in all a decent cruise however not up to their partner Celebrity.
My husband and I have just returned from the 5-night New England sailing. This was our 3rd cruise and our 1st on Royal Caribbean. We are 29 years old. My husband is a physician and I am a pharmacist.
We arrived in NYC on Oct 2 to do the 24 hr power visit. We had a lovely room at the Park Lane. It was very rainy and messy upon landing but when we woke up on Sun morning it was wonderfully brisk just what you would expect of fall in NY.
We negotiated our cab ride to Bayonne for $80. The brochures say no boarding until 6pm but we took a chance and arrived at 4pm. No problems. It took all of 10 min for embarkation. Upon boarding, we found that many people had boarded much earlier.
We had to plan this trip at the last minute due to the recent hurricanes and were lucky to get one of the last balcony cabins available thanks to our wonderful travel agent. (We were supposed to be in Destin.) Our cabin was 6304 - a handicap accessible cabin which was very spacious. Theonly part of the cabin that was obviously handicap accessible was the bathroom, which had the usual amenities plus a wonderfully large shower. Our cabin attendant was Lola, originally from Jamaica. She greeted us soon after boarding. She would pass us frequently in the hallway, always with a warm greeting and smile. We could always tell she had been in our cabin from her mark of tidiness, frequent fresh linens, and crisply turned down covers at night (not to mention the great towel animals). She even rescued my husband and our room one evening. He opened our balcony door during near gale force winds blowing many things out of our room into the hall including the blankets from our bed!
We were seated in the Carmen dining room (1st of 3 floors) during second seating for our meals. Our waiter was Vinod (Vinny) from India and assistant waiter was Rohan from Jamaica. They were spectacular. They always remembered our names, items we always ordered, and they way we liked our food cooked. We never had to ask for anything as it was always offered or even brought in anticipation. All of the food was excellent but we usually tried to order most of the recommendations of Vinny that were always right on the money. They had a great selection for each course of the meal. The presentation and taste of the food was perfect and the portion sizes were so large that even my husband could not finish them. The dining room itself was very elegant consisting mainly of brass, dark polished wood, and glass. Throughout the meal one or more people would play music from the balcony on the third floor of the magnificent staircase occupying the far end of the dining room. We were seated at a six-person table however we never had the pleasure of dining with any other the passengers scheduled to eat with us. For some reason this has occurred on each of our cruises.
The entertainment was mediocre. The Ice Jammin' show and the musical review were great however most of the shows were adult oriented comedians held late at night which is not our idea of fun. The promenade shops were the typical cruise ship stores with the usual over priced yet duty free merchandise. The shopping talk was pitiful to say the least. Not much shopping in this area.
Ports of Call:
St. John, New Brunswick, Canada - With a population of 80,000 we felt this was the diamond in the rough of our trip. We took the sightseeing highlight tour of the city stopping at all of the major attractions of the city including the Reversing Falls, the city market, and a fort. This is not the fast paced exciting port-of-call found on many cruises. This very quaint maritime town however is rich in history and kept warm with its friendly people and beautiful flowers. We were expecting a rainbow of fall foliage only to find vibrant flowers and green trees. Apparently, maritime Canada has had quite a warm and dry fall and so the landscape was still very summer-like. This led us to learn that St. John is frequently the winner or close second in a yearly city in bloom competition. It is amazing the amount of pride the residents, including children, take in their picturesque city. Many of the flowers in the parks and along the boulevards were either planted or at least started from seed by children in elementary school and high school. The city market was a center of activity for many of the cruise passengers from our ship and the Princess Cruise Line Regal Princess. Here you could find everything from hand knit wool socks to smoked fish to fresh vegetables to the very fishy tasting dried seaweed snack dulse (or something like that). You can get a free sample in the city market. The taste lingers much longer than your wait in line for a small piece of this St. John delicacy. For lunch, we headed to Steamers Lobster Company that is across the street from the cruise terminal. The food is delivered right from the boats and cooked fresh. The lobster, snow crab, and mussels were all delicious.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada - This city is more modern than St. John. Again we chose the highlight tour on a hop on/hop off double-decker bus. This served as both a good tour and a convenient means of transportation around the city. Halifax is notable as the final resting place for many of the passengers who died on the Titanic. We went to the Atlantic Maritime Museum, which boasts about a large Titanic display. It was good but not all that large. It has a pretty good movie about the undersea exploration of the Titanic. We visited many of the downtown shops many of which sell handmade crafts and artwork. For lunch, we went to the 5 Fisherman. The lobster roll and oyster po-boy are excellent. The restaurant itself is beautiful with a slight feel of the New Orleans French Quarter.
What to pack - You definitely need to plan to dress in layers. New York was brisk but once you are on the ship, the wind on deck can become quite strong and quite cold when it is blowing off the water. Most days the temperature would reach a high in the mid 50s or low 60s (in the sun and out of the wind) and the low down to the 40s and even 30s (again, out of the wind). The wind would gust upwards of 20 miles per hour and even faster if you were on deck with the ship moving. (You should really try out the hot tub in this weather.) It can feel much colder than it really is. We were always warm and cozy in our cabin however. Many of the excursions recommend a raincoat and an extra set of clothing to change into following the tour, as you typically will get wet.
Please understand this is just our review. We had a great time. We would go again. This cruise is much different than a normal warm weather cruise. All of the activities are centered inside. Many people on our boat were complaining of this or that. I will say I think my husband and I are easy to please. If we were not on vacation, we would be at work so why not have fun? We eat hospital food a great deal of the time so we may not be the best judges in food. Yes, the ship does show its age but that did not keep us from enjoying ourselves. We found this to be a wonderful vacation. We would recommend it to anyone looking for a week of peaceful relaxation.
We're in our 40's (ok, wrong side of 45) and this was our 14th cruise, 8th with RCCI. We always fly to the port a day ahead, but this cruise sailed from Cape Liberty, NJ, and was within driving distance from home. Leaving a day early was unnecessary. We left home about 7 AM for the ride to Cape Liberty, only 3 hours away. This was one of the easiest cruises we've ever embarked on. RCCI provides good directions to the port where there is easy and affordable ($12 / day) parking. In fact parking is so close to the terminal that we parked and pulled our luggage. We checked in right away (10:45 AM) and waited in the separate area that is for Diamond and Platinum members. We didn't see the other waiting area, so can't compare. Cookies and water came just before we got on the shuttle to the ship.
Due to extreme hurricane damage, our itinerary had been changed from the original western itinerary of Labadee, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica to Labadee, San Juan, St Marteen, and St Thomas. This suited us fine because 3 out of the4 new ports are big favorites with us.
Day 1, Friday
A little after noon, the shuttles started transporting passengers to the ship. You are not supposed to go to your cabin until 1pm, but we always go anyway just to drop off our carry ons before going to the Windjammer for lunch. Our cabin was done. We were booked in balcony cabin 7318 originally, a great hump cabin that we had booked a year ago. I normally check open cabins and prices up until sailing and about 10 days before, I found that RCCI had released all their handicapped cabins in the same category (E2) as ours. It was very easy to simply switch cabins. We knew from a previous sailing that these spacious cabins are about the same size as a junior suite. The only thing missing was a bath tub. We were quite hungry by now, so on to the Windjammer for lunch. We've noticed on previous RCCI sailings that the Windjammer has really cut back from say 4-5 years ago. Seems to get worse all the time and this cruise was no exception. My wife's fish was cold and hard and I settled for roast beef from the carving station. One good thing about the Windjammer is that you can sit down after getting your food and someone will ask you what you'd like to drink. Your choices are lemonade and lemonade. Soda and bottled water are also available for purchase. After eating we went to our cabin and changed for a hot tub visit. My wife's back had been extremely bad for the last week or so , so this was a very anticipated visit. We usually head for the hot tub anyway the first day because there is never a crowd. The hot tub was great for her back and she stayed in a full 2 hours. Not cured, but much better. About 3, we headed back to our cabin and were pleased to find our suitcases had arrived. We unpacked and then headed for mandatory muster drill at 4:30pm. Sailing was scheduled at 5, but was delayed by some late arrivals. Early seating was at 6 this sailing and we both were hungry and ready to go by then. Sat down and met our table mates that soon arrived. Joe from Denver and Reese and Carol from New Zealand. Wife and I both had the Rib Eye and although not as hot as it could have been, was still very good. Later we went to the welcome aboard show and our cruise director Richard Spacey introduced himself. He told some jokes and introduced "one of the top comedians from India", Ed Regine. He was pretty good. Had a late night drink in the Viking Crown Lounge and headed for bed.
Day 2, Saturday
Up and atom at 6:30am. Well my wife was anyway. She read while letting me sleep until 8 and then we headed for the Windjammer for breakfast. Wife had the cold potatoes and eggs. OJ seemed to be watered down and not the standard we would expect from Royal Caribbean. I decided to have the French Toast when I saw a new platter being placed in the serving area. Not too bad. At least it wasn't cold. Most everyone complains about the coffee, but I think it's fine. Not as strong as in previous RCCI cruises. Back to the cabin. Wife read and I napped till it was time to eat again. Back to the Windjammer and more of the same. Wife tried a different fish this time, but it was still cold. I settled for a hot dog. They are always at least warm. Also hit the carving station again too. Walked around a bit afterward. Checked out the shops etc. Not really into bingo and trivia so avoided at every opportunity. Sunny today, but very windy and chilly. We stayed in the solarium enjoying another nap and the hot tub.
The first formal night is tonight. All dressed up and ready to eat more. Tonight we met Joe's wife Mae and another couple Bob and Sue who transferred to our table from the late sitting. (I think they couldn't stay awake). I had the fillet mignon and found it to be good, but nothing special. My wife had the duck, a favorite of hers for many years. She was unimpressed with her selection this time, since it was not cooked well enough and was difficult to chew. Her escargot was only lukewarm and my shrimp cocktails ( I always get 2) were really cold. Oh yeah. They're supposed to be. The strawberry cheesecake and the Grand Main Soufflé were good. Off to the Captain's cocktail party and then to the show.
Tonight is the first of 3 production shows, Vibe*ology. Not bad. Singers tonight are excellent as is the norm for a Royal Caribbean Cruise. After the show was the first of 3 Karaoke Idle nights. We've watched karaoke on occasion on previous cruises, but this time we heard some very talented people. The winner on this night and 2 others went to the final competition on the last night of the cruise. Hit the sack by 11:45pm.
Day 3, Sunday
This morning we find that although today is overcast it is now nice and warm and very humid. Real Caribbean weather. YES!!! Seas are quite rough today as they were yesterday and there is some rocking, but not bad. We decide to have breakfast in the dining room today. Asked for a table for 2 and were quickly seated. We both ordered the French toast and as usual, was very good. RCCI makes the best. Finished and on to the solarium hot tubs. Much more crowded today. Chair hogs out in force. Found a suitable lounge for a nap and didn't disappoint myself. Wife reads, I nap. Today we decided to try out Johnny Rockets. Have mixed reviews on previous visits on other ships. We were the first in line when they opened and were surprised that we got steaming hot onion rings, but only a luke- warm hamburger and chicken. We both had shakes at $3.60 a pop -very good. Back to the cabin for reading and a nap. You can guess who did which.
At dinner, we both ordered the Thai Shrimp. This was excellent. For desert I had the white chocolate gateau and my wife had the mango pie. Very Good!
Tonight's show is Herb Reed and "The Platters". We've seen them 2 other times on previous RCCI cruises and decided to see again. Herb Reed is the only original member performing. Along with the new members, they were excellent at singing the original songs- as they sounded in the 50's. After the show, we happened to be walking by the Champagne Bar and were invited to a champagne with 4 of our table mates. Chatted awhile and then retired for the evening.
Day 4, Monday
Today we stop at Labadee, Royal Caribbean's "private island" and a real favorite with us. After a fast breakfast in the Windjammer, we find that it's a beautiful warm sunny day with some large waves due to Hurricane Jeanne which had passed through a couple days before. We head straight for our favorite spot, Hideaway Beach. It's farther along and the last to get crowded. Found a great spot under shade and stayed until well after lunch. Ocean was warm as bathwater. Lunch was good today on Labadee. The usual barbeque items to select from. Returned to the ship around 1:30 and hit the hot tub for awhile. Then up on deck to relax and have a drink.
Today before dinner (smart casual night), RCCI had their Welcome Back Party in Cleopatra's Needle. Had a few drinks. Wife thought that there were fewer choices of hors d'oeuvres served than on previous cruises. For dinner we both had the rack of lamb. Really good. Should have ordered extra. Next time maybe. Wife also had the Thai Lemongrass soup that she doesn't recommend after trying. Tonight's show Dreamscape was very good. Tonight from 10:30 to 12 was another karaoke competition. More good singers too. 12:15 was the late night comedian Ed Regine who we saw on a previous night. He let out a little secret about his act that I can't tell, so if he is on your cruise, he is worth seeing.
Day 5, Tuesday
Slept late this morning after the busy late night. Had breakfast in the Dining Room and had the French Toast. Wife had a mushroom omelet and we thought that they were both good. Wife went to the gym for awhile and I checked email. Still 50 cents a minute. Our Platinum Crown and Anchor coupon books each include a 15 minute free coupon for internet service. Paid almost nothing for online service for the whole cruise. Good Deal!!!
Arrived San Juan around 11:00AM. Had to go to immigration. All you have to do is walk through the dining room with your cruise card and your passport (birth certificate). You have to do this even if you are not getting off the ship. Not organized very well this time as on previous cruises. Took at least 1 ½ hours for everyone to go through the line. Ate in the Windjammer again and on to the hot tub and pool for a relaxing day. We don't usually get off in San Juan, especially when arriving so late. (We have been there a number of times before and have seen the fort, etc.)
Tonight we decided to try Portofinos. Wanted to see what's worth $20 per person. Our server Marina from the Philippines was very nice and very anxious to make us happy. A bread basket was brought to our table before being served. I had the filet mignon ,and my wife had the spaghetti with lobster, after a shrimp rosalto appetizer and the asparagus soup with smoked trout. For desert I had the flourless chocolate cake. I like chocolate, but this was just so rich I couldn't finish it. Wife had the tiramisu which came with a shooter of Baileys and Kahlua. Although this was a very good meal with super service, we don't think we'll do it again. We enjoy the dining room just fine.
There is no main show tonight, so we attended the "Ice Jammin" Ice show in Studio B at 9pm. To attend any of the ice shows, you'll need to get free tickets when availability is announced. There were several choices of show times. The skaters did a short show and then did a small competition for single men and women and for pairs. Total show is about 1 hour long. The first time we've seen the skaters do this. In the other skating shows on previous cruises there was no competition. We enjoyed the change in format.
After the show we went to the Love and Marriage Show. We learned some new words tonight. Our cruise director had some really good come backs from the contestants answers. Very good show. Unfortunately we skipped the deck party tonight. Just too tired. Looked at the full moon from our own balcony.
Day 6, Wednesday
Today we port in St. Maarten. We love it here!!! This morning at 8am, it is 86° and sunny! A fast breakfast in the windjammer and on to the beach, but which one? We've always gone to Orient Beach, but today we decide to try a new one. Someone working with the taxis recommends Guana Bay. He says it's much quieter. Boy is it! We were the only ones on this beach for at least an hour. Then a small tour from the ship showed up. Wonder what that cost them? Our total cost was $8 for the taxi each way and $15 for 2 beach chairs and an umbrella. The waves here were huge. At least 6-8 feet. Many on the tour were brave and didn't hesitate to go in and get knocked all over the place. For awhile we were wondering how we were going to get a taxi. We were told we'd have to call one. Didn't like that. As we were picking up to leave, a taxi came by to drop off some folks, so we got back to the ship easily today. We'll prefer Orient beach for future visits I think.
Back to the Windjammer for lunch and had a hot dog (it was hot). Wife found something even though this is more difficult each visit. Had soft serve ice cream for desert as there were no other appealing choices in the desert section today. (Back in the good old days there were too many good deserts to eat them all). Afterward, we headed up to the top deck for a short nap.
Tonight's show featured a juggler (Jeff Harris) and comedian Carl Strong. The juggler was ok, but we've seen better comedians. I think he talked about his mama too much. Skipped Battle of the Sexes tonight. Just too tired. I guess the nap wasn't long enough. Checked out the full moon and retired.
Day 7, Thursday
Today's port is St Thomas. Another big favorite with us. We docked around 7am and immigration boarded immediately to begin clearing the ship. After a room service breakfast on our balcony, we headed for the immigration line and were pleased to find that there was almost no line. Took only about 5 minutes to go through.
We changed for the beach and headed to Morningstar, a small beach that is right next to Frenchmans Reef (Marriot). It's much closer to the pier than Megans Bay and others. Cost was $5 pp each way. We paid $10 each for lounge chairs. We knew we were on a tight schedule because the ship needed to leave at 3pm to make the long trip back to Port Liberty, NJ. We stayed from 9 to 12:30. Back to the ship for a fast shower and lunch. Out shopping for only about an hour. Nothing caught our eye, so back to the ship.
Tonight is the second formal night. Dressed and on to dinner. We had the Chateaubriand and the Salmon. Both were excellent! Wife had the pecan tart and I had the chocolate bread pudding. Instructed wife not to let me get that again.
Tonight is the final production show, "Rhythm Rhyme". Great show with excellent singers and dancers. Later was the final karaoke competition.
Day 8, Friday
Up very early this morning for an at sea day. Went to the Windcrapper for breakfast and was in the hot tub by 8. Stayed in the solarium all morning. At 11:30 this morning was the Crown and Anchor Platinum and Diamond member party in Cleopatra's Needle. Open Bar and a great lunch. Ton's of shrimp, lamb chops, shish kabobs, fruit, choc covered strawberries, and more. Afterward, I went to the casino for awhile while my wife sat on our balcony and read.
Tonight was lobster night. For some unknown reason, it was not very good. Not sure if it was just overcooked or what.It came with shrimp, which were good. I also ordered the prime rib as backup and that was also good. Had the crème brulee' and that didn't seem to be as good as in the past either.
Tonight's show features Domenick Allen. On the Cruise Compass he is listed as a "Foreigner" Rock Group member. I was disappointed that he sang only a couple songs by Foreigner. Upon further research when I got home, it turns out that he is a seasoned tour musician-singer that has toured with the likes of Stevie Wonder (L.A. Forum), The Buddy Rich Big Band (Carnegie Hall), Petula Clark, Carole King, Helen Reddy, Annie Ross, Liberace, Barry Manilow. He is not an original Foreigner group member. A little exageration in the cruise compass I think. He is an accomplished actor with many appearances on television and stage. He sings very well and put on a very good show although not what I thought I was going to hear. I would see his show again though if given the opportunity. Wife thought he was just ok.
After the main show tonight is the "Quest". If you've never seen it played, you must not miss. Because it has become such a popular event on the RCCI ships, this has to be played in Studio B rather than Cleopatra's Needle. There was standing room only this night and it was very funny. Be sure to go see it on your cruise and better yet, get involved. Don't forget to prepare by having a few drinks first.
Day 9, Saturday
Well this is our last day at sea. End of cruise depression is beginning to take hold. We know tomorrow is going to be the end of our 9 night Voyager cruise. The balcony isn't warm anymore. The cool northern air is taking hold. This isn't good.
We decide to eat a good breakfast in the dining room this morning. Table for 2 and French toast for both of us. Very good. One last visit to the solarium hot tub for the morning. Lunch in the dining room today (took us 9 days to learn where the decent food is. Won't happen again). I had the Philly Cheese Steak and the wife visited the pasta bar. She wished we'd done this the very first day. Me too!!! We usually prefer the Windjammer because we are in our bathing suits and changing is a pain, but the better food is worth it, at least on this ship.
Tried to sit out up on deck, but a little too windy for us. We decided to sit near the main pool for the afternoon.
Dinner tonight was very good. I had the sirloin steak and the wife had the Mahi Mahi. Had the brownie with chocolate mouse and wife had the banana nut parfait, both very good. We say goodbye to our waiter EdMichael (I think there must have been an argument naming him and there was a compromise) from the Philippines and our assistant waiter Troy from Costa Rica. We won't be missing our head waiter ( Asif from India) who made rude comments each time someone walked out without giving him a tip. We saw at least one person stuff his would-be tip back up under his hat after hearing him. Very unprofessional, especially from someone who did nothing at all for our table and promised help he did not deliver. We have tipped good headwaiters in the past, but our tip money went happily elsewhere this time around.
Farewell Showtime tonight featured the same two entertainers as on day 6. Same opinion. Some of the "Cruise in Review Video" that you can purchase was also played. After the show we met up with Joe Mae and Reese Carol for a final drink at the "Pig and Whistle". Joe and Reese's treat and we thanked them for being such interesting table mates. The karaoke finals were almost ready to begin so we headed to Studio B. Very good competition and we approved of the person that won. Wife enjoyed the balcony one last time then hit the sack, and I headed to the casino until 1:30am or so.
Day 10, Sunday
Never much fun on the last day of a great cruise vacation and this was no exception. It was a little worse this time because we didn't dock until 10am or so. Before docking I took some good pictures of the ship going under the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge. According to the captain, there is only 10 ft clearance between the bottom of the bridge and the highest point on the Voyager going under. We waited in the priority debarkation location which was in the dining room from around 10 until 11:30 when our lavender colored tag was called. We headed out of the ship and onto the shuttle bus to the terminal. There, we quickly found our luggage and were loaded up and out of Bayonne in no time. Wife says she wants to do it again instead of flying to a port. Have to think about that for next September.
Overall, we had very few complaints except for the Windjammer food. The lack of new selections and quality was the main reason for this. I believe that the food is usually hot when you put it on your plate, but since you may not sit down with it for 5 minutes or longer, it cools considerably in that time.
The Voyager is in great condition overall. There is some wear here and there, but certainly nothing to take anything away for your cruise experience.
The staff is very friendly and more than willing to help you in any way.
The cruise director, Richard Spacey was very good although little too silly for me. My wife liked him more than I did. I'd rate him a 7-8.
Hot tubs were not always warm enough.
Drinks are still not too expensive. $4.75 for a frozen drink and $3.00 for a beer.
Embarkation and debarkation could not have gone better. RCCI has worked out the bugs in this department and Cape Liberty is going to be even better in the future. In 2005, RCCI will add the Enchantment which will do 4 and 6 night Canadian Cruises. Also the Celebrity Zenith will sail to Bermuda on 7 night cruises and of course the Voyager will be back for 9 night Caribbean and 5 night Bermuda cruises. Hope RCCI adds more choices here in the future.
I'd estimate at least half or more of the passengers aboard the Voyager on this cruise were within driving distance, so it compares to a cruise from San Juan. You cruise with a lot of "locals".
After a family cruise on the Radiance in the spring, we will be exploring options on non-RCCI cruises. RCCI's new pricing policy where the hands of the deep discounters are tied is a partial factor in our decision. Time for something new anyway.
Any questions, email me and I'll try and answer. Cruisinfanatic@aol.com
We have just return form a 5 days cruise on the Voyager of the Seas leaving from Cape Liberty Port Bayonne. Please take note that Royal Caribbean does not mention that it is $106 later to get from Manhattan with a taxi to the port.
Embarkation was quick and we had just returned from the Windjammer where we had dinner when our luggage arrived.
The stateroom was a disappointment. We have been on The Brilliance of the Seas last year and the stateroom was roomy with the bed's edges curved to give more space. On The Voyager the corners of the bed were square with the coach leaving no space to get to the side of the bed. One could also see that the stateroom was 5 years old. It looked battered.
Our stateroom attendant was hopeless. A guy from the Caribbean islands. He had no idea of how to make a bed. On the 3rd evening of our cruise our stateroom was still as we left it in the morning. No clean towels etc and the bed not made. We had to call the reception to get clean towels becausethe number for the stateroom attendant just says "go off hook".
The itinerary was also not worthwhile. In St John we were supposed to see the reversing tides and the caves of St Martin. It was low tide so no reversing tides and we could not go into the caves, because there was a stream of water flowing in front of the caves. The courier told us that the previous day the tourists could not see St Martin's caves because it was high tide. Why then have such an excursion and advertise the reversing tides and the caves if they know that when it is low tide there are no reversing tides and with high tide one cannot see the caves at all? St John is a one horse town as far as I could see. The covered bridges they talk about are just a wooden structure built over the road. Looks like a barn with open ends.
2nd Excursion was to Peggy's Cove. We drove through lovely scenery and Peggy's Cove is a picturesque fishing village. The time given to spend there is too long, because there is nothing but the scenery to explore and a few gift shops.
The first day the ship rolled a lot. The Atlantic Ocean has quite high swells and its colour is dark blue comparing to the turquoise colour of the Mediterranean. Because of the fact that it was cool outside one of the pools were not filled with water and most of the people were inside the ship causing the lounges to be quite congested.
I feel that this itinerary should be scrapped, because it is not worthwhile. I am sure that we were spoilt by the wonderful 12 day's on The Brilliance of the Seas touring the Mediterranean, but apart from that the ship is just too big with too many people.
The Royal Promenade is big, but the shops are the same as all the other ships, only the pizza, ice cream parlours and bars were more.
The ship shape centre was much smaller than that of the Brilliance and we have missed the enclosed solarium.
The long queues in the Windjammer were also irritating comparing to the islands we had on the Brilliance of the Seas. The food in the Windjammer was also not very exiting. Most of the time the meat was underdone and tough.
This was our 3rd cruise on Royal Caribbean, but the most disappointing! As far as my opinion the ship and the cruise will get 5 out of 10 rating.
Itinerary: NJ - Labadee Haiti - Ocho Rios - Grand Cayman - Freeport Bahamas - NJ
About us - We are in our early 50's with a 22 year old son. We've each been on 11 previous cruises. Only my wife and I went on this cruise. My son was on the June 4 sailing and could not stop raving about the ship and the cruise.
Getting there and embarkation - We sailed out of Bayonne NJ, which is about a 30 minute drive from our house on the south shore of Staten Island. We arrived at the terminal about 12:30 PM and were on board by 1:00 PM. No traffic, no delays - a real smooth beginning! We had lunch at the Windjammer buffet and then went off to explore the ship.
The ship - WOW!!! The Voyager of the Seas is an incredible ship - it seemed like a floating city. This was our first time on a Voyager class ship and we were really impressed. There were over 3,500 passengers on board, yet it never felt crowded anywhere we went. This is now my new "favorite ship." Thedécor was really nice, and there was a lot of interesting art work all over the ship. There are more lounges/bars than I can remember, a disco, a nice size casino, a 2 level library/internet cafe, a chapel, 2 main pools, an adults only pool in the solarium, several hot tubs, a gym/spa, a truly wonderful promenade, and the most incredible children's center I have ever seen afloat! The main dining room was three levels, and for alternative choices there was the Windjammer buffet, Portofinos - an Italian restaurant ($20pp additional charge), and Johnny Rockets. If you're in the mood for a snack, the Promenade Café is open 24 hours for coffee, tea, cookies, pastries, pizza, finger sandwiches and assorted wraps. For an additional charge you can get some Ben & Jerry's ice cream. There was so much, I feel like I'm leaving something out! The layout and design were very good and getting around the ship was extremely easy, although the elevators could be a little slow at times. The only thing I did not care for was the seating in the La Scala Theater, where the nightly shows are presented. All seats are theater style individual seats with cup holders. Unfortunately, the cup holders are too small to hold any of the glasses the drinks are served in so we had no place to put down our drinks. We prefer the couch/bench style seating with small tables to place drinks on. Also, on the upper level there are several poles which obstruct the lines of sight On the outside, there were plenty of lounge chairs (and the deck patrol took care of the chair hogs) and plenty of area in the shade.
We had a balcony cabin on Deck 8 (# 8630) which was a pretty decent size for the two of us. We especially liked the privacy offered by the balcony. Instead of removable partitions, it was completely enclosed on each side. Even leaning over the edge it was difficult to see in to your neighbor's balcony.
Service - This is an area I have come to expect excellence from Royal Caribbean and they did not disappoint. Everyone we encountered - cabin steward, dining room waiter, assistant waiter, maitre d', Windjammer & Johnny Rockets staff, purser's staff, shore excursion staff, bar waiters, room service, social host, shop attendants - were just GREAT! Service was always quick, courteous, and exceptionally friendly with a big smile.
Food - Food is a very subjective thing, but I thought the dining room food was pretty good. Our waiter and assistant at our assigned table for dinner were superb! The maitre d' also came by every night to make sure we were pleased with everything. At the open seating for lunch, the menu was the same every day, but the food was pretty good.
The Windjammer buffet and Island Grille were good and there was enough variety that we always found something appealing. The burgers and hot dogs were good but the pizza was only fair (not the same as the pizza at the Promenade café).
We did not try Portofinos or the midnight buffets so I can't offer any opinion on those.
We used room service for breakfast most mornings and I give them an A+ for promptness and quality. Breakfast always arrived at the exact time we requested and they called a few minutes ahead of time to tell us it was on the way. With only one exception, afternoon or pre-dinner snacks came very quickly.
The only thing I didn't like was the coffee. If this was "Seattle's Best" I'll have to remember to skip the coffee when visiting Seattle.
Activities - The activities on board were varied, with something for just about everyone. In addition to the usual pool games, art auctions, bingo (final jackpot was $18,000 - won by one person), etc. there is a rock climbing wall, an in-line skating track, an ice skating rink, full court basketball, a miniature golf course, and for an additional charge, a golf simulator. It seemed like there were so many things going on, we couldn't do everything and had to make choices.
We walked through the Adventure Ocean section of the ship which is the area reserved for the children's program. Even though we didn't have a child using the facilities we wanted to see what everyone was talking about. They have an incredible setup including their own pool with a slide.
Special activity - In celebration of our 25th anniversary, my wife and I booked the Royal Romance Vow Renewal package to renew our marriage vows. It was arranged and performed by the social host who treated us just wonderfully and made us feel special. We invited our dinner table mates and a couple of internet buddies who we met face to face for the first time at the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle party a few days earlier. The ceremony was held in the chapel at the very top of the ship (Deck 15) and they reserved the Cloud 9 lounge for us (Deck 14) to have our "reception" which was basically a champagne toast and cake. It was a lovely setting and a very nice ceremony. After doing some traditional vows I read something that I had written specially for the occasion. We both got a little choked up. It was a little pricey, but we will have some wonderful memories which you can't put a price on.
Entertainment - James Andrews may be the best cruise director I've seen yet. He brings such energy and enthusiasm to everything he does and really gets you going!
The entertainment was generally great! From the shows in the La Scala Theater to the music in the various other lounges. Whatever your taste in music it seemed there was something for everyone. The only show I was disappointed with was their Broadway Revue production, but maybe I'm spoiled considering the number of Broadway shows we've seen.
The most unique show, and a must see, is the ice show. These are professional skaters, who have competed internationally, and they put on a performance that rivals the Ice Capades or Disney on Ice.
Some of the best entertainment was provided by our fellow passengers in the Karoake Idol competition, the Quest, the Battle of the Sexes, and the Love & Marriage game.
Fellow passengers - We had a very diverse group of passengers and everyone we talked to was really friendly.
Royal Caribbean set up a Meet & Mingle party for all the Cruise Critic.Com members who registered in advance. Over 90 people signed up, but only about 20 actually showed up at the party. It was fun to finally meet some of the folks we had been exchanging messages with for quite some time.
The ports - Labadee, Haiti - This was basically a beach day. We tendered ashore and headed for the beach farthest away from the tender dock. There were more than enough lounge chairs and we were able to set up in the shade. A barbecue lunch was served on the beach.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica - We've been there before and seen most of what there was to see in and around Ocho Rios. This time we booked a private tour with Ionie & Lewis McBeam. Lewis picked us up at the dock and we took a drive through the countryside for about an hour and a half to go river rafting on the Martha Brae River. The rafting trip was also about an hour and a half and it was very relaxing and enjoyable. On the way back, we stopped at Columbus Park, Green Grotto, and a local jerk center where we sampled some of the local cuisine for lunch. We washed it down with a cold Red Stripe beer. Back in Ocho Rios, Lewis took us to a shopping plaza we requested and then back to the ship.
Grand Cayman - We spent the day at 7 mile beach. We went on our own to the Beach Club Colony which is where the ship sends all the people who booked the beach excursion. We got the same exact deal, but for a few dollars less. We enjoyed the beach so much that we decided to stay there the whole day instead of going off somewhere else. We took a taxi back to town and had just enough time to squeeze in a little shopping before catching the next to last tender. There were two Carnival ships anchored on either side of the Voyager of the Seas. It was fascinating that despite being fairly good size ships, they were dwarfed by the Voyager.
Freeport, Bahamas - By the time we got to Freeport we had had a little too much sun so we decided to skip the beach and instead booked a shore excursion billed as a "Coastal Cruise" and shopping trip. The "Coastal Cruise" was nothing more than a ferry ride to the Lucaya Marketplace. There wasn't much to see. So we did some shopping and then we got on a bus back to the ship.
Debarkation - This is one area that could use some serious improvement, although it is not all within the control of Royal Caribbean.. Our color was called fairly quickly, but we were stuck without moving for about 20 minutes in a small corridor by an elevator bank with quite a few other passengers and others were stuck on the staircases. It seems that they were getting wheelchair passengers off ahead of us which was taking quite some time. I felt they should have let us sit in the lounges a little longer and not called our color until they got all the wheelchair passengers off. Once off the ship we were bussed to the terminal and found all our luggage within a minute (I give them an A+ for the setup). A porter help us bring our luggage outside and that was where the scene was chaotic. We were waiting for our son to pick us up and it seemed as though nobody had any control over the flow of traffic. Cars, limos and busses waiting for passengers who weren't there yet were blocking the pickup lanes and the port personnel had a very difficult time getting them to move. It took my son about 30 minutes to get from our house to the terminal and then another hour to get to us in the pickup area. Fortunately it was anice day and wasn't raining, because there is no shelter or cover to stand under while waiting. Next time I think I'll drive myself and leave the car at the port.
Summary - The ship is incredible, the itinerary was great and we had a truly wonderful time. I love the Voyager class ships and I may have a difficult time settling for anything less on future cruises.