Well, let me start off by saying, this was the best vacation I could have ever imagined. There will not be very many negatives.
We started off by flying to Miami one day early, just to make sure we got to the ship on time with no problems. We stayed at the Wyndam Summerfield Suites at the airport. This was a very nice suite hotel. Could not have asked for anything better. Thanks Mom! They picked us up at the airport for free, which was nice.
Embarkation I decided that an early trip to the ship would be best. I arranged for the ride to leave at 10:30 a.m. The guy showed up in a Lincoln Town Car. There are four of us on this trip, meaning a lot of luggage. He managed to get it all in the trunk, and then held the lid down with a bungee cord. The car looked like it was ready to take off with its nose in the air!!!
The ride to the ship was uneventful except for passing the Orange Bowl and then the place where the Miami Heat play. Of course, myhusband had to have pictures of both. Then we saw her, in all her beauty, the Voyager of the Seas. I can't describe the first time I saw her. The driver slowed down on the freeway for us to take pictures. We were all so excited by then, we were ready to jump out of our skin. It had been a long 10 months waiting for this.
We got to the ship by 10:45 a.m., and had several porters ready and willing to take our luggage, for a small fee, to the ship. I handed the guy driving us a $5.00 tip plus the fare, and the guy handling the luggage another $5.00. That was just the beginning of tipping!
After taking several more pictures, we headed for check in. There were not a ton of people waiting. The cattle pen lines were not even put all the way together. There was a small line, and we joined it. We probably waited 10 minutes to get to our turn. When we got to the desk, I had all our documents out and ready. The guy took them, looked at our birth certificates and driver's license, and wanted a credit card for on board credit. I told him I would be paying cash, and he told me to see guest relations to put money on the account. No problem, and we were on our way.
I thought we were then going to get to board. I was wrong. Evidently the Coast Guard made a surprise visit and made all the crew go through safety drills. Not a bad idea, but it slowed down our fun in the sun! Anyway, we went and found a place to sit, and they gave us a piece of paper with a group number on it. We were in group number 1! In the meantime, we got to enjoy cookies, tea, and lemonade. It wasn't too long, and they called for group number 1. We got in line, and of course there were those who thought the numbers 2, 3, & 4 looked like 1's. Never fails, you have those that think the rules don't apply to them. Anyway, they were caught when they got to the front of the line, because you had to give them your numbered slip. Well, we finally got to board. I would say we were on board by 12:15 or so.
We were then free to check out the ship and find our cabins. We took the elevator to deck 8 and proceeded to go down the long hallway to the forward. We were about 6 cabins from the front. Carlton, our steward, was just finishing up with our cabin, and it looked magnificent. We dumped our bags on the couch and went out on the balcony. What a sight. We were all so giddy, and I could hear my sister and her husband next to us doing the same thing. WOW, we were finally here! The cabin itself was great. It was big enough for 2-3 comfortably. There was plenty of storage under the bed for your suitcases, and in the closet for all your hanging garments. There were plenty of hangers as well. We took enough clothes for a small army! I will not make that mistake again. We each had 3 drawers to stash our privates, and there were racks in the closet for other things.
Checking things out We were given a sheet of paper explaining that lunch would be served in the Windjammer for us early birds. Sounded good to us, so we took off exploring. We found it, tucked away on deck 11, aft. Of course, the other end of the world for us. We decided we did not need to go to the shipshape gym this week, just going to and from the cabin will burn the extra 20,000 calories we were about to consume.
Lunch was good. There was a wide variety of food. Lots of fruit, meats, and deserts. Tea, lemonade, and water were available to drink. We stayed in there for awhile talking about what to do next. The guys decided Sunday football was the priority and headed to the cabin for the games. My sister and I covered as much of the upper sports decks and pool decks as we could until it was time to return to our cabins for the Muster Drill.
Muster Drill I can't complain about this drill. First, it is designed for our safety, and two, it went very smooth. Ours was held in Cleopatra's Needle. They signaled the beginning of the drill with the alarm going off. It was loud! Definitely will get your attention. We then went down the stairs to the 5th deck to the Needle. They took roll call, and directed us to a seat. We sat there for probably 10-15 minutes, and that was that. Let the fun begin!
Rest of Day 1 We piddled around some more, and went to find our table in the dining room. We were satisfied with the location. While we were looking, we noticed a just married couple getting their pictures taken all over the dining room. She was stunning in her gown, and he was handsome in his crisp black tux. They looked so happy. Then back to the cabin to unpack.
Leaving Miami was delayed. We were not told why, but speculations were that some of the airlines were late. That was nice that we waited for those people! We actually sailed around 6:00 p.m.
Dinner that night was good. We were at a table for 8, and 6 showed up. Come to find out, the other couple was the couple we had seen taking pictures just after getting married. What a coincidence.
After dinner was the Welcome Aboard Show. It was good, and we were introduced to our Cruise Director, Jeff Martin. He has been around for quite some time, and is very funny. We will see him a lot more this week.
After the show, we went a made our first donation to the casino. You notice I said "first", because there was a lot more of that to come as well.
Anyway, that pretty much ended our first day.
FROM NOW ON, I WILL JUST HIT THE HIGHLIGHTS, AS THIS COULD DRAG ON FOREVER.
Day 2 At Sea Started off the day with Breakfast in the Windjammer. There was a good variety of fruits, breads, eggs, meats, french toast, pancakes, waffles, etc. If you could not find anything to eat, you were in the wrong place. Breakfast was great!
I then went to stand in line to get the ice skating tickets. When I got them, they did not let me pick the performance I wanted to go to, and I noticed the ones I got were for that night, during dinner. This was formal night. Not that I cared too much. My husband did not have a suit or tux, so he was not that thrilled about showing up with just shirt and tie.
Well, the rest of the morning/afternoon we spent by the pool (the Solarium adults only pool). Did a little shopping on the promenade, and ate some ice cream. We went to lunch again in the Windjammer. After lunch, my sister and I entered the slot tournament. This cost $20, and you play furiously for 5 minutes to see how many credits you rack up. In the end they take the top 10 and go to the finals. Neither one of us made it to the finals. We had fun anyway! The winner was paid $500, and the 2nd place was paid $250.
A nap was appropriate for late afternoon, and this became the custom the rest of the week.
That evening during the first seating for dinner (we were second seating), I went to the dining room to prepay some cocktails for my sister and her husband as it was their anniversary. Well the Head Waiter came to help me, and was distraught we would not be at dinner. We were in jeans ready to go to the ice show. We tried to convince him we did not have the proper attire on, and he was insistent that it did not matter, and we would be his special guests. We made no promises, except that we would be to dinner the rest of the week, and I was very excited to be going to the ice show. Needless to say, I did not get to purchase those cocktails. He was very nice to us, and we appreciated that.
The ice show was fabulous. Not to be missed. It was very professional and of good quality. I wanted so much to record it, but that was a big no- no. The rink is very small, and its amazing how good they can do their routines in such a small area. All I can say, is don't miss it! Stand in line to get those tickets. Its worth it.
After the show, we ate at Johnny Rockets. We were entertained by the staff. They were very friendly and attentive. The food was excellent, and plentiful. We splurged for milkshakes, and they were great.
After dinner at Rockets, we headed to the casino to make another donation. I actually played roulette for the first time. I only bet on red or black. Too chicken to do anything else.
I can't really remember what we did the rest of the night, but I am sure we enjoyed ourselves.
Day 3 Labadee We woke up to a beautiful day and a beautiful island. We had a full day ahead. First off, the Windjammer for breakfast. Now, we normally don't eat breakfast, especially one this big every morning. But it is so good, and has to last you through all the activities you have planned that day. That was our thinking anyway!
After breakfast we got our stuff together and the 4 of us headed for the tender. I think everybody was leaving at that time, the thing was full. On land we found a spot on the beach (Barefoot beach), and the locals moved our chairs and mats where we wanted them. We tipped them. After taking pictures from the beach of our lovely ship, we headed for the water. It was clear and beautiful. My husband laid on his floating mat (you rent these for $10/each), and I followed my sister to where she went snorkeling for shells. She found several along with a big starfish.
Now it was time for our excursion. We chose to ride the wave runners (jet ski's). Mind you, we have never set foot on one before. I was a little apprehensive. After going through all the safety videos and hands on instruction, we were even more petrified. I just knew I would be the one to fall off the thing in the middle of the ocean, and not be able to get back on. Well, the guide numbered us from 1-10, with 10 being the slowest. We chose number's 9 & 10.
Off we go. We no more get out to the cove to begin our journey, when ski number 7 lost control and he lost his wife off the back! I felt so bad for her, and then starting getting scared all over again. Well, they finally got her back on, and they took off. We took our last place positions. It was fun, but I don't think I ever went full throttle. The chasing guide told us we needed to pick up the pace, but I couldn't because the people in front of me were going too slow. You have to stay at least 100 feet behind the person in front of you. The lady in front of us was scared and kept telling her husband to slow down. I can't blame her. It wasn't him that took a drink of saltwater! Anyway, they switched us around, and they went last. We moved up a spot. We let loose then. Had a great time, and will definitely do it again! What a blast.
Went back to shore after about 50 minutes, and headed for the BBQ lunch. It was good, and then headed back for some more floating in the sun.
We stayed until 2:45, with the last tender at 3:15. Problem being, everyone else decided to leave at that time as well. We waited in line for at least 20 minutes, then got back to the ship.
Dinner was again served in the dining room, and all of our table showed this time. I finally got to meet the newlyweds. But, all of the sudden, she got sick and had to leave. He followed, and that was that. The waiter was not to pleased that they did not say anything.
That night there was an adult comic at 12:30 a.m. We went to that, and he was pretty good. Got back to our room about 1:45, and called it a night!
Labadee was a great place.
Day 4 - Jamaica We chose to eat breakfast in the dining room today. It has open seating for breakfast and lunch. I had eggs benedict (one of my favorite dishes). I have to say, it was horrible! Should have went to the Windjammer. In fact, nobody in my group thought the breakfast was good in the dining room.
After breakfast we gathered our things for the day, and headed into Jamaica. We had a dolphin/Dunn's River Falls excursion planned. First off was Dolphin Cove. We went through the "jungle" area, where we saw parrots, geckos, donkeys, turtles, snakes etc. It was neat, but all I wanted to do was go swimming with the Dolphins!
It was finally our turn. We had our lectures on how to handle them, and put on our life jackets and entered the cove. It was VERY cold. We swam out with our guide and he introduced us to Cometta. She only spoke/responded to Spanish. There was only one dolphin there that responded to English. Anyway, we watched her do her thing, then it was our turn for one on one time. We were told which commands to use, and we did it. She came to me and let me hold her, pet her, and even kiss her. She even kissed me back! The pictures they took are good, and I purchased a couple of them. It was absolutely amazing!
It seemed like our time with Cometta ended too soon. That was definitely one of the highlights of the cruise for me.
After Dolphin Cove they drove us to Dunn's River Falls. This place is absolutely beautiful! My husband and I both decided that we would not climb the falls. I am not in good enough shape to do so, but we wanted to see it from the bottom. We went down the stairs (600 ft.) to the bottom where you enter. We took several pictures, and my husband decided to climb. He found a guide, and up he started. I decided I better start back up the stairs (600 ft.). I found him along the way several times. He looked like he was enjoying himself! I met him at the top and he dried off and we were ready to go. Well, the guide came and found us wanting his tip. My husband did not have any money on him at the end to tip him, so the guy found us!!! That's OK. That's how they make their living, and he did a great job getting them to the top.
This was all great until it was time to leave. They make it so you exit through a "village" of people peddling their wares. That's also fine, except in this case they literally HARASSED you. I kid you not, it was horrible trying to get out of there. They would try to give you necklaces for free, and then get you to their booths. I just kept saying "no thank you" and kept walking. I finally told one guy that I did not have any money. He quickly moved onto someone else. What a nightmare. If there is another way out of that place, find it!
We made it back to the ship and the obligatory nap was in order. That evening we had dinner in the dining room and then headed for the show. I believe it was the Beattle Review. These guys were awesome, and found myself singing along quite often. I got the whole thing on tape and watched it again the other night. Don't miss this!
We made another trip to the casino to make another deposit. Those slots are very tight!
Day 5 - Grand Cayman Today we awoke to a much flatter country. Not any mountains to be found. When I looked over my balcony to the water below, I could not believe it. It was so beautiful. Very clear. More so than the other places we had been. I was told that was because there is not run off from the mountains. Makes sense to me. Anyway, we decided to have breakfast on the balcony. We ordered room service. To tell you the truth, it was average at best. The cereal was good, but that's about it. Next cruise we will eat only in the Windjammer for breakfast.
It was time to head for shore. We caught a tender immediately, with no waiting, except when we got on board. It seemed like an eternity for that thing to fill up enough for them to take us to shore. We booked a private tour to Stingray City, and I was afraid we would be left. After we got to shore, we quickly found our tour group, Nativeway Tours. by the way, they were very good. I recommend them highly.
We were off for Stingray City. There were about 10- 15 of us, and we got on a boat and headed for the open ocean. Several people had to sit on the front of the boat due to space limitations, my sister and husband being a couple of them. About half way there, it started raining. They stayed out there as long as they could, and then came inside with us. It was very crowded. They said it felt like needles hitting them. Anyway, we made it to Stingray City, the rain had stopped, and the water was perfect.
What a sight! There were a lot of people there, but we stayed in our own area with our own group. We were handed snorkel masks, and jumped in. There were plenty of rays to go around. They are beautiful and very graceful. I did not fear I would be stung if I watched where I was walking. The water was about 3-5 feet deep, and clear as a swimming pool. Our guide held them and then told us how to hold and feed them. I fed one time, and decided that was not for me. I did enjoy holding them though. We got lots of great pictures.
After spending about 45 minutes to an hour with the rays, we moved on to the Barrier Reef. It was very choppy to the reef, and I was sick by the time we got there. I decided to get off the boat at the reef so I would not be swaying in the boat making it worse. It was truly beautiful. I saw an eel, and that was cool. The coral and bright fish were amazing. We stayed there about 30 minutes.
This was, by far, the best excursion of the whole trip! I can't wait to do it again. We saved lots of money going with a private tour. The ship cost was $45/pp, and we paid $25/pp. We also gave a tip, which you would have on the ship tour as well. Quite a difference in cost, and more personalized as well! Nativeway is the tour group in Grand Cayman.
We went back to the ship, and took another nap!
That night we had a great dinner in the dining room with a full table (8). Great food and service to be found. The newlywed game was tonight. It was hilarious! We really wanted to be chosen to play, but I would not do what they wanted you to do to get on stage. Some ships pick you by lottery drawing, but not this one. They wanted you to "audition" by doing something crazy to get on stage. Lets just say it got very riscay. That's just not us. But, the show was awesome, and I give credit to anyone who got up there. What a show. Don't miss it!
Day 6 - Cozumel We awoke to Cozumel. To tell you the truth, I was not that enthused about this port of call. First we headed to the Windjammer for breakfast. Good choice this morning. We took our time heading into port and went to rent a jeep. We found car rental place, and they all competed for our business. Most all had the same prices, so it did not matter. We got a Geo Trakker, and headed off. We traveled around the whole island (literally). We saw the side where the surf is rough, and very beautiful. Its definitely not a place to swim. You would be drug back out to sea. We saw many roadside shops. I stopped at one and bought a couple of blankets for next to nothing. They will bargain with you.
We ended up at the San Francisco Beach. It was next to Chakannab Park. Free admission, but you pay for chair/mat/snorkeling equip. It really wasn't a bad price either. This place had a great beach, and a fresh water pool with showers, and two restaurants. They also had wave runners. We settled ourselves on the beach, and took it easy. We stayed there about 2 ½ hours and headed back to the ship. We first had to find a gas station. Good luck!!! We had to ask several times for directions to one. We finally found it and turned the Trakker back in. There were several shops around the ship, and we shopped a little there. Bought some shirts and coffee mugs.
It was time for the nap again!!! There is something about the ocean that just flat wears you out!!!
Before dinner was the comedian. He was absolutely awesome. I laughed so hard the entire time that my face hurt. I can't recall his name, but he was fabulous. That night we again ate in the dining room. And once again, the food was very good! That night, our whole table showed up in jeans. We were a very casual table. I liked that!
After dinner we strolled the decks and the promenade, took pictures and video for memories, and then, of course, headed for the casino. I played a little roulette, and came out even. The slots once again took our money. I did, however, see a man win $3,000 on Wheel of Fortune.
It was late, so off to bed we went.
Last Day at Sea This is a bittersweet day. We lounged around, played in the pool, checked the e-mail, sent some e- mail, and basically dreaded the next day!
My sister and I headed to the theater for the last day of Bingo. I bought the $35 package and began playing. On game three, the smiley face, I actually hit!!! I did not have to share with anybody, and won $301. You would have thought I had won the lottery! I was so excited. I split the money with my sister, as we always do in Bingo, and went to find the guys. We found them in the pool, and showed them the money!!! We were all happy.
That was the end of our happiness, it was time to pack. We dreaded this all week. We can't believe it over. We spend 1 ½ hours packing, and then got ready for our last dinner. We all went casual again, as did the others at our table. Its like we had this silent pact or something! Anyway, dinner was great as usual. We walked around the ship and went to the show. I can't even remember what it was. I know the Karaoke was that night, but I don't think that was the main show. Anyway, we went back to the cabin and put out our bags. We were so sad. Its hard to describe, but it really was sadness.
Debarkation Its dreadfully here. We had to be out of our cabin by 8:00 a.m. We headed for the Windjammer, and had one last great breakfast. We were able to go to any of the public areas to wait for our color. We were turquoise. I knew we would be towards the end, but I did not know we would be dead last! We waited a long time for our color. But I must say, the wait here was fine. We went to the LaScala Theater and watched ER, Friends, and other shows while we waited. It was not all that crowded. We each had our own space with no problems. I even took a little nap waiting. I remember on Carnival in 1994, we were assigned a specific place, and it happen to be in a foyer with no chairs. You either stood, or sat on the floor and waited. I don't know if its still like that, but RCI makes it as comfortable as possible for you. We did not have a plane to catch, so the wait was fine.
When our color was called, they said this is the last color, and all remaining guests should be leaving the ship at this time. We proceeded to our luggage, and had to wait in a small line. The USA line was much smaller and moved much faster than the foreign line. We went to the luggage carousel and tried to find our stuff. We found some right off, but could not find two pieces. We finally found them against the wall. There was several pieces in the middle, against the wall, or just plain sitting around with no rhyme or reason. It was luggage that people mistakenly picked up and realized it was not theirs. I'm glad they realized it before they left!!!
We got outside and quickly found a van, and off we went back to our hotel.
That was the end of our wonderful journey!!!
Quick Overview Food: good to excellent Service: excellent Entertainment: good to excellent Ports of Call: great Condition of Ship: excellent Cabin: big enough, and plenty of storage (more than enough)
We are not big drinkers, so our tab on board was not bad. We spend a total of $316.00 on our SeaPass for the week.
This ship is phenomenal. There is no way you can be board. There is so much to see and do, if you wanted to, you would not have to get off at the ports and be fine. I did not personally experience any rudeness from the crew or other passengers. There were not very many children on board, just 259. None of my party used the spa. Its just too expensive. I would rather spend my money elsewhere. I know there are parts of the ship we did not even get to see, that's how big she is!
I just can't say enough about The Voyager of the Seas. It seemed like everything was perfect. I will never forget it, and hope to go again soon. It truly beat the first cruise we took on Carnival. I'm not knocking Carnival, its just that RCI is the line for us.
Voyager of the Seas - 150th Voyage of the Ship
This is our first cruise so this review is done from that perspective. We have no previous 1st hand experiences; only comments from others about other cruises they have taken. We will tell it like it was in here, no sugar coating. There were many, many wonderful experiences we had and a few that RCCL may wish to review. We will throw our suggestions and tips in where we feel it may benefit you. This review is very detailed and should assist the cruise experience for any first timers or those looking at this ship for the first time. We are also writing this so we remember what we did right and wrong and what we liked and did not for the next cruise we take. We delve into the personal side of our trip somewhat (pre-cruise and Miami) but that is for us and for you if you wish to share it with us.
The General Experience:
Impeccable. These folks work so hard and deserve so much more. I found the staff to be so polite, helpful, energetic and willingto do whatever it took to make you happy, and at all hours of the day. Our room attendant, Finster was so efficient and made a towel elephant one day for us with my wife's sunglasses. The bed was turned down when we left for 10 minutes one day. It was like there was a linen ninja working on our floor. As our cruise Director put it, they must attend Towel Origami College or something because this was neat. Our waiters were both from Turkey and knew all of us by name and what we drank, beating us to it every time we sat down. Even our head waiter came by every day but the first to introduce, say hi, tell us about what was going on the next couple of days and even sang Karen a Happy Birthday complete with cake. Yes, we were officially the first Happy Birthday in the dining room this cruise! Nice touch! I was just thrilled that I got to eat a whole birthday cake myself becaus Food
At 17,000 meals per day, it is amazing the quality of food that they put out. We were told that they have over 200 people working in the galleys every day. I was hard pressed to find a better meal elsewhere and I truly did gain my 10 pound quota. My T-shirt had a bulge on the front of it when I was done the trip which scared me silly but boy, was it worth it. Now I have to come home and pay at restaurants. I hope I remember to or this review will be posted from the local jailhouse computer.
The Cruise Director. Why Jeff is not on the comedy circuit is absolutely beyond me. I have seen thousands of comedians in my life and he certainly ranked in the top 1%. It made videotaping without a tripod very difficult as I kept laughing too hard to hold the camera still. He has the sweetest job; gets to perform on stage and be funny, gets to visit different places all the time (or in his case, the same 4 places for several years.I know, bad example). He lives in Naples, Florida and I wonder when he has the time to enjoy his new pad? Jeff, hats off to you and your staff. Great shows and a great time. (Fresh Ground Pepper Mister Jeff?)
The only real bummer of the trip were the shore visits. Overpriced from RCCL and limited to a few types with everyone hitting Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica at some point. I will dive into these in more detail in the daily recap portion of the review. We also missed Grand Caymans which was really disappointing since it was the one island I wanted to see and experience and swim with the sea kittens (Stingrays).
The entertainment aboard Voyager was mixed. I found the comedians to be as non funny as they come and the dancing and singing to be very hokey. "Going back to Miami?" What were they thinking??? That was so lame and the dancers really could use a choreography lesson or two. La Scala is a good venue to see performances and the audio in the theatre is excellent. Anything Jeff Arpin was in (except the Rockin' 50's) was great. He had a killer comedy routine about shopping in Jamaica (you can't miss this one) and the Love & Marriage Game Show is a laugh riot. Get there early because the best parts are when he is picking the contestants.
We did not see Dreamscapes in it's entirety but saw snippets of it throughout the cruise. You make your own judgement call as others we talked to were mixed (very) as were we. We did not make it to the ice shows (tickets were gone) but heard great things from others. There was some extremely annoying show in the middle of the promenade one night with some girl screaming (and I mean literally screaming) into the microphone in the most annoying & whiney voice. It drove most people away from the show and didn't help the Excedrin headache number 5 we both had that night.
This review is coming from an audio and video enthusiast's take so I am somewhat critical when things aren't right. RCTV played the same things over and over again for a whole week on about 15 of the 22 channels. I now have memorized how the ship was built and can fluently fill out immigration papers in 5 different languages. Don't even begin to ask me about Shopping Shelby and the attempts to push diamonds and the like on shore. It was a very good idea to have this on TV but it felt so labored and I felt as though I was being pressured somewhat to buy, buy, buy!!! There also was an extremely lame "Crocodile Dundee" type character trying to push the Jamaica shopping experience. There were mainly Caucasian actors in the video and it must have been shot on a Sunday morning after a hurricane because Jamaica was deserted if you went by their video. It came off so K-Tel, it was really pathetic and did not make me want to go there any more. Also, the audio engineers onboard could not get the audio levels co I did like the view from the webcams and the report from the bridge. I thought that was interesting and usually had it playing in the background when we were in the room.
I can't get over how well laid out the ship is. You would expect for a ship this size to see fake walls or encasements everywhere for plumbing, HVAC, electrical, etc. but no. Everything is so well hidden and the use of space of this ship and still allowing for a promenade is just amazing. It has been said before in every review but with 5000 people aboard the ship, it does not feel crowded in the least, unless you are waiting for an elevator. Although staff are not permitted in the passenger areas when off duty, it still feels very open with 3500 passengers. We were able to navigate around with little problem (it is after all a 14 floor tube) and were able to easily remember the short cuts to favorite destinations onboard.
You really can't do without reading this. Each day, the next days activities, times for food service and other interesting points are compiled into the daily COMPASS and delivered to your stateroom. There are also good shopping maps enclosed and offer up stores that RCCL has partnered with on-shore. Technically, all of the stores in the brochures have paid to be there so it comes down to ethics vs. business. RCCL makes this clear at the bottom of the shopping guides. There is and was no guarantee that you would be treated any better by hitting these locations vs. others not on the maps. They paid to advertise, simple as that.
The Ship in Review:
Front elevators only go to 12 from Deck 1 to the Spa Treatment Area
Rear Elevators (port) go to 14 from Deck 1 to the Viking Lounge
Rear Elevators (starboard) go to 12 from Deck 1 to Deck 12
There are fourteen 20 passenger lifts on the vessel
There are huge atriums at both elevator areas (10 floors + high)
The elevator has a British accent. Too funny. Should be Jamaican, Mon.
Are abundant and are near all elevators at the front and aft
Often faster than waiting to go up or down 3 floors by elevator
Where there are elevators, there are washrooms, front and back on the public floors.
We did not see public washrooms on 6,7,8,9 & 10 but could be wrong in this.
The ladies rooms are on the starboard (right) side of the vessel. The mens rooms are on port (left) side.
Men - go to the 11th floor washroom beside the Windjammer. It has the best view you'll ever experience while going number 1!
Never before have I seen such attention to detail. It was everywhere. In the $12 million dollar art collection on the walls to the wooden slats in the ceiling of the aquarium bar to the coins in the glass floor of the casino (which Karen thought she was falling into) to the room numbers that doubled as letter holders. What an amazing job and I am sure the craftsmen and women are so proud of their accomplishments. It just has to be seen in person, bottom line. No pictures can do it justice.
The ship was immaculate and I felt very comfortable eating or lounging anywhere on the ship. There were always maintenance workers painting or sanding or doing routine things to keep it going and it is amazing that this vessel travels 24x7 for three years and looks as good as it does. As one would expect, the carpets are starting to show some wear but, all things considered, this ship is moving 24x7 and has a lot of people traffic.
A few points of note. Clear is not quite clear and cold is not quite cold. The water in our room was slightly brown. (slightly being a carefully chosen word). I was concerned about it and voiced it to the ship so they could look into it. The dining room water was good and with their own desalinization tanks onboard, it was nice to not have to rely on bottled water at US$2.75 per bottle. They do recommend bringing water to Mexico which many did but those bottles were $3.50 a pop so I advise you to bring your own from home in your luggage as we did.
The shopping onboard was pretty weak for the size of it and they could have had more variety of items for sale. Souvenirs were the typical ones found everywhere and I would have like to see more specialized ones. I found there were minimal deals and the quality of the sale merchandise lacked. They also really could use a proper pharmacy or at least a good section of one of the stores, stocked with over the counter medications for colds, sea sickness, etc. They were very limited in this regard and we recommended that RCCL really consider fixing this. I advise you to bring your own Nyquil or equivalent if you feel you may need it.
I also want to know if and where I can buy the model of the Voyager that is outside the 4th floor of La Scala in the glass case. Chances are I can't buy it but if you get onboard, you must see the detail on this. It is phenomenal and must have taken months to create.
Formal night is very over-rated. It is fun to dress up for dinner but with no irons in the room, it makes packing a wrinkle free suit a challenge. Plus most folks just lose the suit after dinner. For our formal night, a suit or a dinner jacket was fine with a shirt and tie. There were minimal tuxedos and I bet you will see those disappear very soon from cruises as it is way too expensive to do this and not really necessary.
The Ship Itself (A Tour):
Medical Facility (Aft Elevators) Tendering Decks Crew's living quarters
Not too much to do here. You just get on and off the ship when in ports and receive medical treatments & dialysis here if you need it. Tip, there is a vending machine in the lobby of the medical facility (open 24x7) and you can buy (for 50 US cents) individual packets of medications such as sinus, headache, allergy, etc.
Crew's living quarters and some cabins
You may spend some time here as most shows are in the theatre and if you are a late night reveler, this is where you will end up most likely.
La Scala theatre entrance (front) - Lots of shows here and win-big bingo.
The Vault Nightclub (11pm to 3am) - Late night with theme music nights.
Studio B - Ice Rink (middle) - Great shows and a neat concept of ice at sea.
Photography Centre and Photo Displays (aft) - Lots of pictures to go through. Photo developing costs are through the roof. Wait until you get home unless you can't.
Carmen Master Dining Room Floor (aft) - Watch for the Grand Buffet on Thursday at Midnight.
The main dining floor is here. The dining room; Spectacular! There is a master stairway that connects all three at the back and the dining room is absolutely gorgeous. The staff are the best and I didn't have a bad meal the entire trip from here. Kudos to a great crew. Oh yeah, and the ice sculptures on the GB night, amazing! Go at 11:30pm to see the whole thing presented and take pictures before anyone eats the food.
Muster Stations - Lifeboats drop top here and the "go to station" in case of emergency.
La Scala Balcony - great for videotaping the shows and is usually not too busy.
Schooner Bar - Nice relaxing place to have some drinks and listen to live music.
Casino - great way to donate money to the ship. We only dropped about $30 in the casino and played mostly nickel slots to pass time one evening. Games were not bad and the smoke level was high. There is access in the middle of the casino to the 5th floor promenade in front of the Scoreboard Sports Bar.
Aquarium Bar - Fishes at sea? What a concept. Nice lounge with live music.
Embarkation and Debarkation Decks - For coming and going the ship.
LaBoheme Floor Dining Room - our dining room floor.
Deck 4 is the only deck where you can go from the front of the ship to the back and around. At the front of 4, you go up a set of stairs to the front of 5 where you can do the Titanic King of the World. It is mega windy here so watch your hat and sunglasses or some dolphin will have a new toy. The sanitation area of the ship seemed to be at the port side of 5/stairs to 4 so there is a bit of a smell when you come off that side of the ship.
We only lost one shuffleboard puck over the deck and into the drink during the trip. I am surprised more people don't do this. They need to make the bottom rails a little higher around the shuffleboard courts cuz it is way too easy to lose something.
You must go to the back of the ship during the day when it is moving quickly to see the swells created by the AziPod engines. Pretty wicked pattern and I could watch it all day.
Deck 5 is the hub of the ship. It feels like a shopping mall and not a ship.
Cleopatra's Needle - Lounge where karaoke and shows are abundant
Connoisseur's Club - Cigar and smokehouse lounge. Didn't use this as I am a non smoker. We did pick up our passports here though on Thursday. Café Promenade - Pizza, Coffee, Tea, Cookies, Desert
Pig & Whistle - English Pub - Good Shanty's & Draft Beer. We spent most of our time at the Pig & Whistle to people watch and met Bill and Delores from Maryland here. They are in their 70's and have taken 46 cruises so far. Wonderful couple and we ended up hooking up with them throughout the cruise at various points. It was really great to get to know them and to share in their cruise experiences as well. We also met several other Canadians on this cruise and some from as close as 20 miles from home. Others we met live around the corner from friends in other cities. It was a laugh riot meeting people so close to home in such a far away place. We found the staff at the P&W to be very friendly and helpful and when Karen left her Sea Pass and Drink Card (Yes!!! Drink Card!!!) on the table of the P&W, they returned it to Guest relations and called us to tell us we left it.
Jewelry Store - Watches, Rings, Diamonds
Two General Shops - Various Souvenirs
Guest Relations & Pursers Desk (aft) - The guys at the guest relations desk were a hoot. We were expecting to get in proper s*** for leaving our SeaPass card around and all they could do was bug us about leaving the drink card. As they put it, you can always get another SeaPass but the drink card? Are you crazy leaving that around? They were pretty cool.
We prepaid our tips up front and were the first in line to do this on the first day. Quick and easy and you get vouchers for each person to give to the crew to put in your envelopes. Came to USD$68.25 per passenger. Expect to drop at least an additional $500 on the trip on your SeaPass card as well over and able the cost of the trip for drinks, tips, excursions, shopping, spas, etc.
Explorations Desk (Shore Excursions) - We visited them once to book our excursions and found them to be helpful. You can do most of your booking on the TV but you will be locked out after 6pm for the next days excursions. After 6pm, you need to go to the desk to book the next days excursions.
Champagne Bar - specialty drinks and the drink card cannot be used here.
Scoreboard Sports Bar - had the game on when you needed it. Often loud with Denver Fans cheering on the game against Miami (Poor Denver.)
Magic Flute Dining Room
6th Floor Cabins & Library & Internet Access & Business Services
7th Floor Cabins & Library & Internet Access
8th Floor Cabins
9th Floor Cabins
10th Floor Cabins
The peek-a-boo Bridge is at the front of the ship. Access it from the 11th (front). Here, you can watch the captain and the pilots drive the ship. You can see all of the navigation equipment and instruments. Pretty wild. Bridge tours are not done anymore for security reasons.
Windjammer & Island Grill (aft) - Great food & quick service. We ate B'fast and Lunch often at the Windjammer/Island Grill. The IG serves the same food as the WJ so keep going past the lines and go to the IG for food where there is no line. In the evening, only the IG is open. Tip - when in Cozumel, eat in the IG instead of the DR for dinner if the ship is pulled in nose first to the island as the view is phenomenal from the back of the ship. We grabbed a seat at the window at the back port side and watched 3 ships leave port from the dinner table. It was really quiet as well so it was a good time to do this as we weren't hurried. Ships leave port at 7pm. Carnival, another RCCL and the Grand Princess were all in port that day.
Portofinos - Italian dinner for $20 per person. Did not go here.
Pools & Whirlpools(All ages) (middle) - There is a glassed in area with view of surrounding ocean with windows that open all around the pools.
Towel Exchange Station
Pool Bar (walk up)
Adult Pools (Solarium Pools) (front) - no kids from what I saw the whole trip.
Solarium Pool Bar
Health Spa & Fitness Centre (front) - pretty nice facility with a whirlpool in the middle. Good equipment and the nicest view you will ever have on a climber.
Peek-a-boo Bridge Access
Scuba Shop - pick up some scuba lesson info and merchandise here.
Adventure Ocean (Kids Playhouse) - looked busy. We don't have kids.
Johnny Rockets - JR is good and the shakes are good as well. I have had better and worse. The apple pie and Ice Cream is great here.
Arcade Games - Arcade games are average and they use a prepaid card that you can charge set dollar values to your SeaPass.
Sun Deck with loads of deck chairs
Jogging Track (goes from front of ship to the middle)
Spa Treatment Area - The spa treatments are priced through the roof ($109 USD for a massage!!!!) There are very expensive here and they should lower their prices. There are sales at the end of the week so hold off if you must have treatments here.
Sports Deck - mini golf, rock climbing, basketball, inline skating track
Inhabited by mostly teenagers and a few select adults. This was a fun area but it was busy and hotter as it is enclosed somewhat. We met a guy from Guelph, Ontario who worked in the back golf and skating area. The first Canadian we met who worked there.. (there weren't many that we could find)
Sunbathing Deck (front)
14th Floor Viking Lounge, 19th Hole, Notes, other bars, stairs to the chapel on 15.
Great views of the pool from the 14th and we spent a considerable amount of time hanging out and watching the world go by here. Drinks were OK and the company was cool. A little smokey but you can't avoid that in a bar. The chairs were comfortable and the privacy shears in between the tables were a nice touch.
We booked through our TA five weeks prior to the sail date for a good price and scored a seat sale on Air Canada so the overall vacation price was right. We followed a lot of advice online as to packing lists and we overpacked of course. I will give you my take.Pack less than you think you will need. You will wear things over again (like that favorite green jersey that this one teenager onboard felt compelled to wear EVERY night!!!). Fresh & clean understuffs aside, you won't need as much as you think you will.
Miami (Saturday Before):
Karen and I departed Pearson in Toronto early Saturday morning after parking the car at work and taking a cab over (perks of a Mississauga head office). Of course, it was colder when we left Canada so were very overdressed when we arrived. The dumbest part was thinking that just cuz I wear this at work in 90º weather, I would be OK in Miami. NOT! Wear shorts when you get there. Even if you are going to South Beach for dinner. We changed in the hotel and headed out.
We were fortunate to have friends (Kevin and Nicole) living in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area. Nicki helped us score our hotel in Miami and Kevin picked us up at the hotel after arriving. We had an unfortunate dirty shirt packing incident that was not noticed for some time in Miami. My wife had grabbed a dirty shirt in the confusion of packing and I spent the first 2 hours in Miami asking, "What is that smell???" After some sole searching (literally), I discovered the source and headed out to buy a new shirt. After some brief touring (Orange Bowl, Beach), we headed off the Aventura Mall for some shorts and shirts shopping (something that is impossible after like June in Canada unless you are a size 29 or 30 waist). With the smell issue remedied, we wandered the mall for a while and had a Cuban sandwich for lunch (a must if you are in that mall). Was this ever good! We then headed through the beaches of Miami/Ft. Lauderdale taking the back alleys along the way (saw my first thong of the trip). My wife South Beach:
What an interesting place this is. Ocean Drive and Collins were jammed and there were interesting & good looking people and high end cars & limos EVERYWHERE! We wandered by where Versace was killed in front of his estate (not that night) and must have walked 5 miles that evening. We had dinner at a restaurant that I couldn't pronounce and of course failed to write down the name of. Food good, somewhat pricey but this is South Beach. Tip was included in the bill (Surprised). There were entertainers with snakes around their necks playing music, a quiet angry fellow in a shop where my wife bought an "OBEY ME South Beach" shirt. We spent 30 minutes in the Kennedy Art Gallery (they had air conditioning) and saw a different side of "culture" with people hanging out in the gallery watching an artist paint a flamingo and offering their 2 cents on what to add. Nicki gave a homeless guy the rest of her pizza and that wrapped up the South Beach experience.
Day 1: (Sunday - Boarding Day)
Woke up early and headed off for a big breakfast (a strong recommendation). We grabbed a cab at the hotel and it cost us $18 from the airport hotel to the pier. We arrived at the terminal around 10:30am and they were still unloading passengers from the previous cruise. A point of note here is that as a result of 911, there is no photography, videotaping or cell phone conversations allowed in the terminal and on the property or they will confiscate it. You are not allowed to do this until you board the ship. Apparently, terrorists were videotaping where guards were, how many, etc. so you are not allowed either.
Now the process, we exited the cab and our luggage was already being walked away by a porter. I had to chase him down and tell him to wait until we figured out what was going on as there was mass confusion here of people coming and going. Watch your bags closely or carry-ons and your other bags will walk away. General rule of thumb here is $1 per bag tip that you give the guy who grabs your bag and puts it on the ship. Once we were reminded three times by some other guy that we wouldn't see this guy again and that we should tip him now (high end pandering if you ask me), we did and walked into the terminal on the far left side. We showed our tickets to the guy in the terminal and went up the escalator to a holding area where a couple hundred people were already. We were again reminded to shut off cameras. This is where security checkpoints are and the x-ray scanners. Security is far easier than at the airport so this is quick. Tip - be at the front of the pack so you can fly through the next stage. Registration is a breeze if you pre-register your customs documents on-line. I would strongly suggest this as it makes everyone's life easier here, not just yours. Do this at:
You receive your SeaPass Card here (this used to be called a SuperCharge card). RCCL takes your credit card information to charge all of your weeks purchases to and assigns your dining room seating and table number here. Also, they take your passports and keep them at this point. I did not wish to do this but had no choice. We surrendered them and later received them on the ship. As we were first in line, we got to the lounge holding area first at the back of the terminal. There was coffee, lemonade and cookies there and we were assured it would only be until noon and we would be on the ship. It was actually after 1:30pm before we started to board and during that time, several hundred passengers crammed into a holding area that had minimal seating and was roped off. You are assigned a group number when you enter this lounge and you board based on the group number received. There were at least 8 groups that I saw, possibly more. They really need to get some plastic folding chairs for people to sit o Your picture is taken once you enter a gangplank close to the ship and this will be a part of your SeaPass card that security will use to verify that it is you coming and going from the ship. I found that having the ship's photographer on the gangplank taking pictures and holding up the line even more was bad positioning and bad timing. People were already irritated after waiting for 3 hours on the floor and now were asked look thrilled for the picture. If you didn't want one taken, you just had to say no thanks (which you will get lots of practice doing throughout the week - Read: Jamaica).
You enter on Deck 4 (Embarkation and Debarkation Deck). You will be overwhelmed by the size of this ship the first time you walk it. We went straight to our rooms to drop off the carry ons, do personal business (#1) and grab cameras. This can be a quiet time on the ship (depending on how early you get on) and is a great opportunity to wander around and get to know your home for the next week. If you are there before 3pm, they have a raffle in the Promenade for free bingo, art work, general prizes, spa treatments, etc. It is not bad but they do use it as a commercial for advertising the different parts of the ship and it takes about a half hour to do from a french speaking guy. You need to get your tickets by wandering through the Promenade around 2pm.
We had our muster drill at 5:00pm (postponed) and we donned our lifejackets and headed to D21 in the dining room. We listened to the 7 short and 1 long blast of the horn (loud) and went through the drill of what to do in case of emergency. We all returned our lifejackets to the rooms and headed outside with drink in hand. We watched the Carnival Victory and NCL ??? leave in front of us at 5:30 and 4:30 respectively and then watched the world go by including Miami's South beach and the Multi-million dollar homes along the port as we left at 6:00pm. We were delayed as some passengers had not arrived yet. Spent the majority of the evening eating, meeting our tablemates and touring the ship. We turned in after 1am.
Day 2: (Monday - At Sea)
Watched the world and lots of water go by. This is a nice quiet day with loads of activities to do. We spent most of the day eating and reading by the pool. This is the first formal night and we looked good I must say. Photos were done and purchased and we spent most of the evening at the P&W. We turned in after 2am after munching cookies, pizza and tea.
Day 3: (Tuesday - Labadee, Haiti)
100º in the shade. What a great day and a beautiful island. It was interesting to note that Labadee is a compound so to speak with a huge retaining wall and armed guards at the gate. We also noticed the chain link and barb wire fence keeping locals out.. Anyone wearing a pink shirt worked there and was from the island. They were very pushy here and if you wandered into the market building, you were trapped, no question. They had you on all sides and pushed you to buy stuff. Just say no thank you and by all means, talk them down on purchases as they start very high and are used to bartering. It is so unfortunate to see the state that their economy has gotten to and making a sale means eating or not tonight. We did buy some things from the island and did so outside, not in the market itself. The same stuff is outside with less pressure. Saw some locals (reptiles) and videotaped them doing their thing. Great place to get shots of the ship for the first time. You don't get many opportunities to do thi Day 4: (Wednesday - Ocho Rios, Jamaica Mon)
With the national elections going on today in Jamaica, I was surprised they stopped at Jamaica. It also poured rain all day so it was a bit of a bummer. We went to Dunn's River Falls (who didn't???) and I took the stairs and videotaped the rest of our group going up. I couldn't be bothered making the hike so the stairs did just fine. Karen hiked it and really enjoyed it. We came back from the tour around noon, grabbed food and fell asleep until 5:30pm. It was raining anyway and with the hassles of Jamaican locals pushing drugs and other items, it was not high on my list of things to do. We saw the falls and enjoyed it. If you cruise to it, you avoid the locals hassling you to buy stuff as you enter at the base of the falls on the water. All the shops are at the top where the parking lot is. We enjoyed the Love & Marriage Game Show this night with Jeff Arpin as host. What a riot and I encourage you to see this and get there early. Balcony seat if you are videotaping it. The Mardi Gras Party was to Day 5: (Thursday - Grand Caymans)
Awoke to the captain announcing that the waves were too high to tender a boat to us and that we were moving on to Cozumel. I though something was odd when I woke up, turned on the TV to see us moving at 14 kn. I was deeply disappointed as this was to be the highlight of my trip swimming with the Rays. Had the underwater camera and the tickets already. Oh well, it's an excuse to go back again someday. We did see dolphins swimming beside the ship for a while and they were keeping up, no problem. That was neat. We skipped dining room dinner tonight and had a late seating at Johnny Rockets. I was in need of a break and I can't eat that much big food with desert every night. JR's was so good tonight and was well needed. We spent most of the night at the P&W after spending an hour or so in the Casino. We turned in early as we were catching a cold.
Day 6: (Friday - Cozumel, Mexico)
We arrived early in Cozumel thanks to the missed Cayman day so we had a little extra time on the island here. We really enjoyed Cozumel. We walked the 3-4 miles to the downtown and beyond from the International Pier. Got myself a Hard Rock Cozumel shirt (XL is a small XL - try it first!!!) and went to the infamous Carlos and Charlie's. There is a great deal of hype for here so it was a must see. The food was good with a great atmosphere and a wild bunch of people. I would have enjoyed spending some serious drinking time here if I was so inclined with some buddies but today wasn't that day for me. It was a lot of fun and worth visiting. Scored some souvenirs here and took a cab back to the pier for $6.00. When we came back, we slept for a few hours and missed dining room dinner yet again. We ate at the IG and watched the boats leave and then turned in for bed. This by far was the best meal of the trip for us as the view was great, we weren't rushed and the food was excellent. I think I will eat at Day 7: (Saturday - At Sea)
Total unwind. We did nothing but pack, eat, lounge in the sun, hot tub it and use up the drink card. We were in bed by 11pm. It was a cool day outside and very windy with rough waves. Today was tip day. We handed our envelopes over to the crew and thanked them for a job well done and a great vacation.
Day 8: (Sunday - Debarkation)
When you go to debark, they will call you by color. A couple days before, you submit a form indicating which time you need to be off the ship. You then receive colored tags in your stateroom and you are to attach them to each piece of luggage you are checking. * If you are driving, I suggest leaving as early as is possible as there is nothing to do on the ship this day but watch them refuel on the port side. * Incidentally, smoking is not allowed on this side of the ship this day.
* Remember to keep clothes out and your carry ons or the next day unlike one drunk passenger on our ship who last minute packed all of his clothes and woke up naked the next morning with nothing to wear.
Then you are called by color to the gangway and into the line for customs. Canada and International passengers were on the left side of the line and it was fast for us - 5 minutes (mid morning), U.S. were on the right side and longer. The speed of the lines will depend on how many cruisers are from where and how many agents are working what lines.
You should wait near a lounge to get off the ship. I suggest the 4th floor aquarium bar near the back ship (you depart from the back as well as the front). There seemed to be less people at the back of the ship waiting as RCCL suggests you go to wait in the big theatre at the front until your number is called (there are 1200 people in the theatre). Just be up early so you get a seat in the lounges. It gets easier to find chairs of course as more people are called. You have to leave your stateroom by 8am at the latest which is also when they stop serving breakfast. *EAT A BIG BREAKFAST as it may take some time to get off the ship.
Customs was a breeze and our agent was cool. If you didn't have tobacco, alcohol, other stuff, then you did OK. You are not allowed to bring food into the US so don't try it. Remember, it is a $50 fine for each piece of food you bring back into the US (no exception).
Once through customs, you head down the elevator and to a huge carousel where your luggage is making the rounds. Grab it and get out to avoid the confusion. We grabbed ours and were in a taxi to the airport in less that 2 minutes.
There was a 10½ hour wait at the airport (we booked our own flights) because Air Canada was sold out for the earlier ones and we were confirmed anyway on a late flight. I would recommend that if you cannot get an earlier flight than 7pm, stay over in Miami Sunday evening and go out the next day. Don't waste your whole day at the airport like we did. At least have some fun and unwind and then go out early the next morning.
Summary & Overall Impressions:
Will we go again?
Yes! Definitely. It was a lot of fun and a very different experience from a land vacation.
What will we do differently?
Go with another couple we know well. Although it is nice to meet people on board and do things with them, it is fun to enjoy the experience with friends that you can reminisce with after the fact. You can't always expect your tablemates to be of the same age with the same interests so this becomes important (at least for us) to be able to hang with others. Also, when Karen and I wanted to do separate things, we didn't want to feel bad about leaving each other on their own or missing doing things that we really wanted to do but shouldn't do alone (different shore excursions for example).
Go with a later seating (8:30pm) for dinner. You are not rushed this way when finished dinner and you can take your time coming back from ports before eating. We assumed up front that we couldn't wait that long to eat dinner and should take the early seating (6:00pm). We soon realized that there is 24 hour food on board. If you're hungry at 6pm, order a 6 pack and 2 pizzas then go eat the big meal at 8:30pm.
Book shore excursions ourselves (except Jamaica). RCCL overprices the shore excursions and unless you do not want to deal with the locals in a particular port, you may wish to consider booking your own tours with reputable hosts in port.
Don't wait 6½ years to go away again. Never again will I wait that long for a real vacation.
We hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we had experiencing it. We went into this vacation with little expectations and came out really enjoying the trip.
We are going to try Alaska and the Eastern Caribbean for sure and possibly a European tour in the future. Have a great time on your trip wherever it takes you.
This was my 3rd RCI cruise. My husband and I went by ourselves, mainly to enjoy a megaship. We were not disappointed! Embarkation went well. We arrived at 11 am and were allowed on at 11:30. The Island Grill buffet opened at noon. We spent the first hour touring and learning the layout.Unfortunately, the workout area wasn't open, so we lounged by the pool for an hour. Our room was ready when we checked on it at 1:30. Martin, our cabin attendant, was warm, polite and gave us excellent service all week. We had a very nice interior room.We like to spend our money on other things other than balcony rooms- that's just because we never spend time there. Later we enjoyed the calypso band by the pool- excellent group from Grenada! We got a late start out of Miami, but were sailing by 6 pm dinner.Our wait staff was excellent- as was all the service personnel. I cannot say one bad thing about anyone on this cruise. Friendly, upbeat, professional, always available. best I've ever seen. Food in the dining room was good to excellent. Wine choices were average, markupnot bad. We are different than some in that we are athletes who work out daily and are very healthy eaters. It was easy to eat well- plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, lo-fat selections. Loved our daily veggie egg beater omelets in the Island Grill. Go all the way to the front- it's much quieter there! It was June, there were many kids. The little ones never bother me, but there were many aged 15 and up who were pretty obnoxious at times.Not the fault of the cruise line. The exercise room was excellent in some ways, poor in others. Reebok machines- not great, especially the leg press. Two machines were out-of-order the entire cruise. Only 4 upright bikes-only 1 had toe straps. 22 treadmills- however some were rocking and making horrible noises. A little maintenance is needed here! Never had anyone offer to help adjust seats or answer questions- very bad. We took an "ab workshop" by a trainer which IMO was an attempt to sell their spa services.The trainer made some blatant mistakes in his analysis of foods and metabolism.We took a yoga class, which was fun but not worth $10. most disturbing was the temperature of the gym- way too hot for aerobic workouts such as running. No fans. TVs were on, no sound. We didn't enjoy the Dreamscape show- fell asleep.Dancing was good in the Broadway review, but all the songs were set to disco and rock beats. The comedians were very good, the ice show was excellent. Dance band in Cleo's Needle was just okay, but had one of the best guitarists I've ever heard. Enjoyed Steven at the piano bar- a personable guy. We were glad we did Capt Marvin's for Stingray city in Cayman- only 12 on our boat! Other excursions had them packed like sardines.This was so much fun- everyone should do this once! In Jamaica, we took Peat Taylor trip to Dunn River Falls. We were the first there. Being athletes, we wanted a good workout, so we climbed without a guide, had it all to ourselves and were the first people to finish! We watched for another hour, as it got very crowded and didn't look like fun. There were many who shouldn't have tried it- I worried about heart attacks and injuries in some quite obese people. We snorkeled already in Cozumel (Chankanaab), so this year we went to Carlos 'n Charlie's for the drunkfest. We had a ball! Not for the fainthearted and I wouldn't suggest bringing your children. We don't enjoy casinos, so I can't comment. Rick loved the full court basketball. We didn't try the skating or rock-climbing wall, but some seemd to really enjoy it. We didn't enjoy the Solarium pool much,as it didn't get a breeze and seemed stuffy. Pretty, however. Debarkation was very slow. We were the last group called and then the lines were long for customs and luggage. Bring a snack and some water and prepare to wait.Lots of people to move . I would do this cruise again in a heartbeat. Everyone went out of their way to make it a great vacation, and we rewarded our staff generously. Kudos to RCI for their management. We welcome any questions by email.
We (family of 5) just finished our first cruise. We received a lot of great advice from this web site and this review will try to cover the issues I had, as a first time cruiser.
First off the Ship: The Voyager is a beautiful ship and is HUGE!! The pictures on the web and in the RCI literature don't do it justice. We had 2 rooms (Category B suite and Categoty M inside stateroom) on the 10th floor. The rooms were very nice and well laid out.
The iternary: The Western Caribbean was a perfect venue for our family. We are from Southern California and all enjoy the warm weather.
Labadee: Nice private island..time to relax and enjoy the beauty of the caribbean
Ocho Rios: Did the Dunn's River Falls and Jamacia Tour...booked the tour with Peat Taylor tours. He was an excellent guide and the Falls were very pretty. Hard to climb at some points but worth it.
Grand Cayman: Did the Sting Ray City 3 hr. snorkel tour...Booked it with Captain Marvin's Watersports.. This is a must excursion!!!
Cozumel: We did the Swim with the Dolphins at the National Park. This is alsoa must if you have kids. They said this was the highlight of the cruise for them.
Food: I read so much about the food on this ship. The food, along with the service, was excellent. Anyone wondering if they should cruise on this ship or not because of the food should NOT WORRY! The food was great and I have 2 very picky eaters in my family.
Seasickness: This was my main worry. My wife and 1 daughter have gotten sick before on small boats on the water. We all got prescription medication and wrist bands and over the counter pills before the cruise. I spent over $75 for the stuff and we never used it. There was little if any motion felt on the cruise the entire 7 days.
As you probably can tell, we had a great time. I caould write 3 pages of review but I'll close with this..We had a great time and we are already searching for another cruise by RCI in either the Southern or Eastern Caribbean.
If you have any specific questions, please e-mail me. I'll be glad to answer them if I can.
A word of caution - this was my first cruise, and I went because it was a family event (a relative's 85th birthday). I had always thought that cruising would not be my ideal type of vacation and this cruise confirmed that belief. So my opinions may be different than most other persons who read/write these reviews. Nevertheless, I'm writing this because I found information in the member reviews on this site very helpful when I was getting ready to go on my cruise, and I hope I can similarly provide some information that others will find useful.
The best thing about the Voyager was the service. Our cabin attendant and waiter were wonderful -- gracious, friendly, extremely competent, eager to promptly accommodate any request, etc. One member of our party was very difficult in terms of her dietary demands, and our waiter, and the entire staff we dealt with in the dining room, not only showed the patience of saints in handling the situation, but turned themselves inside out to please her (they failed, but it wasn't their fault). It was a real trial, and they came through with flying colors.Almost all of the other staff we dealt with throughout the cruise were also delightful (the only exceptions were a waiter and an assistant waiter at breakfast one morning, who were quite rude).
The ship is spotless and seems perfectly maintained. Our cabin was fine -- it is ingenious how they fit all kinds of storage space in every nook and cranny. We had an outside cabin with a balcony. Unless you intend to only sleep and shower in your cabin, I'd recommend the balcony if the expense is not a problem. It is really wonderful to be able to stand or sit out on your very own balcony and watch the sea or the islands you visit. Plus, you have a window wall looking out on the sea, instead of a porthole or even a picture window.
The food was really hit-or-miss. Some of it was fine and some was not. For instance, in the breakfast and lunch buffets, there was always fresh fruit. The pineapple was always delicious - ripe and sweet, but most of the other fruit - melons, peaches especially - were not ripe. The tomatoes were not good - and we were coming from Florida, where they grow very good (and terrible) tomatoes. Try the milk shakes or malteds at Johnny Rockets if you like shakes or malteds - they are excellent. Note - you have to pay for the beverages but not the food at Johnny Rockets - shakes and malteds are I think $3.50 each. (I can't comment on the food at Johnny Rockets - didn't have any.) Based on our experience, I would not recommend Portofino's - the Italian restaurant you have to pay $20 extra pp. The shellfish was overcooked, the appetizer I had (fried cheese) was not very good - I've had much better in Italian restaurants at home. You get a better meal on a good night in the dining room than at Portofino's. Food to avoid - eggs. In the buffet all eggs, even the omelets, sit on a steam table. They don't have an omelet station anymore (apparently they used to). I figured I'd have eggs in the formal dining room, where your breakfast is presumably cooked to order. They were overcooked and rubbery there too. The available around-the-clock ice cream and cookies at the cafe on the Promenade Deck weren't very good. Avoid the steak - it's tough. Except - for the night they have filet mignon - that was very good. As were the lobster tails in the dining room (as I said, much better than Portofino's). Some of the deserts and appetizers at dinner were excellent and some were just so-so. The salads on the buffet at lunch were fine. The midnight buffet was fun and very good - and they kindly provided a plate cover if you want, so you could easily take plates of food back to your cabin. Which brings me to the mini-bar. Some earlier reviews on this site complained that there was no room in the mini-bar to put in anything else and that if you so much as touched anything in there you were charged for it. Well, they must have gotten lots of complaints because they've changed the system. We were only charged for what we used (and believe me, we were moving stuff around in there) and -- better yet -- they leave about half of it empty so you can put stuff in there -- you are free to talk food out of the dining rooms, so that was a very nice feature. The other thing that's a pain about the dining room is that there are two sittings in the evening - one at 6 and one at 8:30 -- one too early and one too late -- I would prefer to have one seating at 7 or 7:30, but I guess that is not possible on such a huge ship.
Speaking of huge ships, it is really quite well-managed. Considering how many people there are (who are mostly trying to do the same things at the same times), the lines and crowds are not at all bad (then again, I'm from New York City, so I'm used to lines and crowds). The only time it was annoying, was the pool deck on an "At Sea" day. It was really hard to find deck chairs after about 10 a.m. Also (and I realize others feel differently), there was almost-continuous LOUD music blasting there. There is another pool area right behind the main one (don't remember the name - it has a Roman villa motif) that somehow, magically, wonderfully, is quiet, you don't hear any of the music from the adjacent area. However (there are some people out there who share my preference), it is even harder to get a sunny deck chair in there than in the main pool area.
Entertainment - Again, I probably don't have the same tastes as lots of other people. The ice show is great - everyone agrees on that. GET YOUR TICKETS EARLY. They are free, but you have to get the tickets in advance - and there aren't enough for everyone on board (if the ship is full as our cruise was). I know people who couldn't see the show and that's a shame. Otherwise, the entertainment was Las Vegas-review style, with a smarmy, lounge lizard-type m.c. Lots of folks like that - and it was pretty well done for that type of show. I'd much rather see one really good singer, or a band or dancers from the islands we visited.
My opinions on the other activities are also probably not typical. I was sorry that the information provided on the islands we visited focused mostly on shopping - rather than on the culture, or politics, history, flora and fauna, etc. I would have liked someone to give tours of the ship, or lectures on navigation or the ocean or set up a telescope on the open deck at night and show people the stars, but there is very little "brain food" on this ship. I did the wine-tasting session (for $10), and the juggling class. Both cursory but fun.
As for the athletic facilites, they are extensive. There is an outside open upper-deck jogging/walking track (5 laps to the mile) which is terrific - it's great to be surrounded by the ocean while you are doing your laps, ditto for the gym - it's very well-equipped, with loads of machines, which also have an ocean view, a huge jacuzzi, steam and sauna rooms, helpful staff, fresh towels. There is a room where they hold aerobics and yoga classes (a couple each day). I took a class every day - there were two instructors - both very nice - but one quite knowledgeable and effective (I'd give her a B+) and one less so (I'd give him a C+). There is a rock climbing wall - which is fun to watch (and for the brave souls who scaled it or tried to)-I'm sure fun to climb. There's volleyball and basketball, miniature golf and some kind of regular golf with a computer simulation, scuba lessons, an in-line skating track and an ice skating rink. There was no rental charge for any of the equipment I used (even the skates). One disappointment for me - the ice skating rink was only open for passenger use on the two "At Sea" days -- the rest of the cruise it was closed (because of the ice shows they said). I seem to remember reading somewhere that you could go ice skating every day - it ain't so.
Shore Excursions - I highly recommend the river tubing trip in Jamaica - it was the highlight of the whole vacation for me. They take you way up in the hills, over roads that are unpaved for a good part of the way, and then you get in these big inner tubes and float down this beautiful river, through some rapids - under the watchful eyes and helpful hands (when needed) of the Jamaican men who accompany the group. You get to see a little of the countryside, and get a bit of a feeling for life in Jamaica. N.B. - There is another trip in Jamaica - river rafting - I didn't speak to anyone who took that one - just make sure you go on the trip you want.
Other than that, especially if you are traveling with a group, it is Much Cheaper to make an arrangement with taxi drivers and others on shore, to take you around to see and do whatever you want, than to take the ship's excursions. Plus, you can tailor your time to do exactly what you want for as long as you want. Before we went, I would have been apprehensive about doing that, but it seems that the taxi drivers, etc. are licensed and the ones we encountered on all the islands were honest and pleasant.
One final warning - the spa is outrageously overpriced. I had a pedicure - it cost $55!!! The most fahionable salons in New York City charge less. And then they have the nerve to try and push their overpriced "botanical" creams and potions on you while you are trapped there with your feet in a pan of hot water....This wonderful product, which is designed to be used with another of our wonderful products, is just what you need, for your ___ skin (fill in the blank - dry, chapped, rough, etc.) This product is a mere $47, and its indispensable partner is a mere $60. So -- get your toenails and fingernails painted, your body massaged, your pores cleansed and your hair styled before you board.
To summarize this cruise - if you love Las Vegas, being pampered, all-you-can-eat buffets, sunning, gambling, or some of these things, you'll love this ship. I imagine it is quite like most of the big cruise ships - except it's bigger and there is more of everything. If this kind of a vacation is your cup of tea, I think you'll enjoy the Voyager, because they do this style vacation very well.Marilyn Richter
The Voyager is an amazing ship all around. It was enormous - about twice the size of the Paradise (Carnival) that was down the pier. Even though they said there were about 3,000 people on board, we never knew it. I think there were even less people on board as most tables at dinner had empty seats, the shows were half full and even the popular ice skating show was only filled to about 30% capacity. 33% of the couples on the ship were honeymooners (according to the Captain). Assuming there were 3,000 people on board, I can safely say that over 95% of them were couples (or couples and their families). Since this cruise was right after school started, there were virtually no children anywhere to be found (maybe 20-25 TOTAL). If you were single looking for love (or even someone single to talk to), this was probably the worst cruise you could have been on.
We arrived at the pier around 1pm and it took us a total of 15 minutes to get to our cabin. Our luggage arrived a few hours later and our cabin steward stopped byto introduce himself. He was nice and made up our room twice per day - once after we left in the morning and once after we left for dinner.
We had an inside cabin on deck nine. It was quite spacious with lots of room for storage - especially under the bed. Each room had a safe and the television had satellite tv. I was quite surprised that when I arrived on Sunday - they were showing every NFL game via satellite (Direct TV).
We enjoyed the different restaurants and bars and usually could be found late night in the High Notes Jazz club listening to the Latin Jazz / Salsa band. The shows were much better than the typical cruise ship shows of the past. The only show that was awful was the Celebrity show, which consisted of Bowser from Sha Na Na. Fortunately, this particular show changes every few weeks, so none of you will ever be exposed to it. The "Newly Wed - Not So Newly Wed" show was pretty entertaining.
We had the late seating for dinner and I would never, ever go with the early seating. For one, we were in Cozumel until 7pm and secondly, I enjoy being by the pool until the sun goes down. The food was above average and on three occasions, we took a bite of our food and ordered another entree. Everyone at our table usually ordered 2-3 appetizers and 1-2 desserts each night. We ate in the dining room every night, however the Island grill serves essentially the same fare. The menus for each night are in the large binder that contains the Room Service menu that can be found in each room (top of desk or in drawer). We didn't eat at Portofino's (extra $20) but several of our table mates did and said it was wonderful. We ate lunch at the dining room only once and either the Windjammer, Cafe Promenade or Johnny Rockets for lunch. I was very disappointed with the Windjammer. They had the same food every day for lunch - hot dogs, tacos, fish and salad bar. We would walk by and leave and go somewhere else to eat. Johnny Rockets was great - we usually ended up there at least once a day. We ordered room service once and it was pretty good as well. The service was good but everyone seemed a bit "robotic" or as if they were in an assembly line. They all just go about there jobs without much smiling or conversation. The best service we got was in Johnny Rockets where very few people ever tip their waiters. We always tipped a few dollars because 1) that's about the only money they make (and few people realize that) and 2) the service there was much more friendly than in the dining room.
We almost never book excursions through the cruise line because not only are they overpriced, but you usually are hoarded with about 50-100 other people. We booked the ever-so-popular Peat Taylor tour in Jamaica and Captain Marvin's snorkeling tour in Grand Cayman. In Jamaica, we were literally the first people to Dunn's River Falls and had the place to ourselves for about an hour until the hordes of cruise ship people started showing up. Captain Marvin went to 2 snorkeling spots and to Stingray City for $30. The cruise line offered one snorkeling stop and Stingray city for $48. I booked the diving excursion in Cozumel through the ship because $75 is reasonable for a two-tank dive, plus I checked with the dive shop as to where they would be diving. The diving there was fantastic! Labadee was very relaxing and we thought it was a MUCH place better than what other reviews had said about it. Just do not get suckered into paying $15 to rent snorkeling equipment and a life vest. Even the excursion sheet that Royal Caribbean distributes states that the snorkeling is no good there. I had brought my own snorkeling equipment and thought I would at least take a look at the two small plane wrecks in the water at Labadee (waste of time). As I was entering the water, the staff on the island demanded that I pay $7 to wear a REQUIRED safety vest. I told them I wasn't paying a dime for something that is required (yet unnecessary) and proceeded to grab a vest from their pile of 100 or so and walked away.
Personally, I think the food wasn't any better than the other cruise lines I have been on (such as Carnival). The service was definitely more friendly on Carnival (well, they are called the "fun" ships, right?) However, the ship's size can definitely be appreciated and there is more cabin space and definitely more public space (such as in pools, spas, full court basketball, adults-only pool area, etc.) The adults pool concept was great. It was separate from the main pools so if you didn't want to hear the band(s) or some other loud event going on, it was the place to be (plus the chairs are much more comfortable). The Spa staff were the same as you would find on every cruise -right after your treatment they will try to sell you $400 of additional creams, lotions and Flintstone vitamins.
The casino was larger than most, if not all, that I have ever seen on a cruise ship - and the staff there was nice as well. Each night, they were many opportunities for photographs professionally taken with various backdrops. Photos are pretty expensive though - $9.95 for one 6x8, $19.95 for one 8X11. They have a nice miniature golf course and a quite extensive arcade. We planned on climbing the Rock Wall but never got around to it. There were many opportunities to climb throughout the day - especially on sea days. There is horseracing that you can bet on by the pool on both sea days and we played bingo on the last day since the jackpot was around $7,000. There were internet terminals in the library on decks 7&8 and using the internet cost .50 per minute. If you bring your own laptop, you can have unlimited internet access in your room for $100 for the entire cruise.
Interestingly, the cruise offered everyone on board an opportunity to cruise again on the Voyager the following week for severely discounted prices. For example, a party of four could have stayed again for $700 TOTAL..yes total cost for all four including port taxes, fees, etc. For the best cabin on the ship, which normally costs about $3,000 per person was $1,400 for FOUR people. Unbelievable! A few people we met on our cruise were actually on their second week as they took advantage of this deal the week prior.
All in all, this cruise was great. I know that I probably dwell on the negatives (or at least mention them) more so than all of the positives. But trust me - the positives of this cruise ship heavily outweighed the negatives.
I sailed on the Voyager of the Seas on August 26 to the western carribean. This was my first cruise ever and it was unbelievable. I had done lots of research before going on the cruise so I knew what to expect but it was nicer than I had imagined. I feel that this cruise ship definitely gives you back your money's worth and then some.
Let's start on the food. The food wasn't amazing but it was good. There was way too much of it. The presentation of the food was nice and the selection was great. I do not eat shellfish and meat and I was nicely accomadated every nite by a vegetarian dish or a (meatless)pasta or a fish (they had salmon every nite). The Portofino's restaurant is definitely worth it. We went there twice becasue my husband loves italian food. The food, atmosphere and service was great. Tiramisu is one of the best I have ever had and I have been to Italy 3 times. The food in Portfino, in my opinion, was definitely better than the main dining room. Breakfast wasn't exactly anything special and theservice at breakfast wasnt as good as the service at dinner. Johnny Rockets rocked! we went there three times. It is so nice; it has seating outside facing the water. The veggie burger tastes like real burgers but the tuna on the other hand isn't that good. The salad bar at lunch at the windjammer was pretty good but besides that they didnt have too many vegatarian options at lunch which i was surpised at. All their pastas had meat and everything else was meat such as hot dogs and cold cuts. The midnight buffet was nice to go and see but who has the room? obviously some people do. The special midnight buffet was a must see!
Now on to the room we got upgraded from a deck 6 balcony room to a deck 9 balcony room. The view was magnificent and it was worth every penny paying for the balcony. The balcony was very private and serene. The room is pretty spacious,for a cruise cabin not clausterphobic at all and pleasant. It was also very clean.
The rest of the ship such as the public areas were very nice and well kept. The pool area was a little low for my standards but my husband and I were at the solarium most of the time. I love this idea of an adults only pool. It is great. the seats are nicer and more comfortable, the pool is nicer, QUIETER, and the hot tubs are nicer too. The gym was soooo nice and soooo big. There were always plenty of towels but they should have a bottled water fountain instead of the usual public school water fountain. The royal promenade was amazing. the main dining room is gorgeous with each floor decorated differently. The casino is huge. The high notes jazz club far surpassed what i expected in regard to decor and music. It was very nice and romantic. The vault dance club was very big as to what i expected it to be. It is more fun when it is crowded and everyone is dancing as it was the last nite of the cruise. The cleoptra's lounge was nice also though i wasnt there much. La Scala theater was unreal! it was so big and so nice, I was surprised again. The Studio B was also very nice, you do not feel like you are on a ship at all when in here. The in line skating track is a little too small. The mini golf course is cute. The champagne bar is also very nice. There are 15 bars/lounges on the ship so take your pick! There are types to please all guest types.
The entertainment was also very very good. I was pleasantly surprised. The ice jammin show was amazing! The not so newlywed game was hysterical! The high notes latin band was great! The mardi gras parade was tons of fun! And almost every nite in the main dining room there was some sort of entertainment after 10 pm.
The ports and excursions: The first port was Labadee. very nice and clean a little too crowded but it was still relaxing and nice. The water was very clean and refreshing. The lunch was good, pasta, salads, burgers and other food. The view from our room when we docked at Labadee was breathtkaking because of the beautiful mountains and water. The last part of the day was excruciating, it took a couple of hours to get back onto the ship because of the tender service. It was very frustrating and time consuming! Jamaica was okay. The Dunn's river cruise excursion is lots of fun. It is a little scary at times but worth it. The rest of Jamaica was nothing special so we went back to the ship for lunch and stayed. Grand Cayman was very nice and very hot. The Glass bottom boat was okay, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. The town is so clean and the people are so nice. We went to a hotel for a couple of hours and it was very nice. The water is so clear you can see your toes perfectly; all types of fish were swimming with us in the water and they were big. Cozumel was also nice. Passion Island excursion is a must do if you are a couple. It may be pricey but worth it. The guacamole is great and so is the unlimited coronas. It is very private and ideal for honeymooners. The town of cozumel is also nice.
The service on the ship is also very good. All the dining room staff was very friendly and nice. We actually missed them when we left. Our cabin attendant was very nice also. Prices of water on the ship were reasonable also. The cafe promenade pizza was okay but the chocolate chip cookies were my weakness. The General stores items were a bit limited. The security on this ship when getting on and off was very good also. I was impressed. Overall my husband and I had a wonderful time and plan to sail on Royal Carribean again eventually.
I sailed on the Voyager August of 2001. My husband and I had a great time. It was our first cruise and now I think we have been spoiled. The best part about this ship is variety. There is a variety of food, entertainment and activities. Anyone should be pleased on this ship. It is a great mix of partying and relaxation.
We had booked a deluxe ocean view room on the 7th deck and they upgraded us to a premium ocean view on the 9th! The room was adequate size though the bathroom was a bit small. The room was is very good shape, very clean and new. The balcony was private and beautiful and unobstructed.
our cabin stewart was very nice. The service in the dining rooms were great also. The excursion desk was also helpful in helping us book excursions.
The public areas and decor:
The ship is really nice, it's not refined or gaudy just WOW! I guess becasue it is so big. The promenade is out of this world-you dont feel as though you are on a ship. There is a pub and cafe and somestores. The pools are nice-I loved the solarium because it was adults only and the chairs were cushioned -a plus!! The gym is also very big and nice in a roman motif. The library is nice, the internet lounges are great and the service is expensive but fast for a ship. The Viking crown lounge at the top of the ship is amazing. It has music every nite (spanish band) and couples would dance and the views were beautiful! The main dining room is gorgeous! The casino is huge!!! We went there a few times. There are so many lounges and bars all around the ship and they are all very nice.
The food in the main dining room was okay-it could use some imporvement. The dinners had a good variety. We usually ate breakfast and lunch in the windjammer cafe becasue it was open later and there was more variety. The quality was soso there also. The portofino restaurant was great! We dined there twice and paid $20 pp but it was worth it if you like italian. Johhny Rockets was also really good-the veggie burgers taste like meat! The best part is you can sit outside and if you are lucky(as we were) you can see dolphins in the ocean! The 24 hrs cafe was good for something on the go-but only the sweets-the pizza wasnt good. Dont forget the midnite buffet-we couldnt eat-but we went to see them and you should-especailly the nite that they make art out of the food!
entertainment and activities:
The shows were much better than i expeceted but them i didnt expect much. The newleywed show was hysterical and the ice show was also very impressive. There was bingo, a club called the vault which was a lot of fun, the carribean party nite with the band on the pool deck was great and the parades on the promenade were really cool especially the second one that had the theme of carnevale. That was great!
Ports and excursions:
Labadee was very nice and the water was beautiful. The beach was a bit crowded but we still enjoyed it-the lunch buffet wasnt too good that day because there wasnt too much selection for vegetarians. Cozumel was also a great port, we went on the Passion island excursion and it was very good and worth the money. For the first half of the day we had the island totally to oursleves and then a Carnival group came over but it was still nice. The food was also pretty good if you like mexican. The area around the port was also nice and the people were decent. Went to Carlos and Charlies but wasnt crazy about it-go there if you like to drink and party hard.
Grand Cayman was nice but our excursion was a rip off-the glass bottom boat-we really didnt see much except some regular small fish. The people were very nice and it was so clean and pleasant around the port. Ocho Rios was good but only because we booked an excursion with RCL for Dunns River. It was a bit scary but exhiliarting. Do not venture into the town-i didnt like it at all.
All in all we had a great time and wouldnt change a thing- I would definitely recommend this cruise. We are planning to go on the celebrity galaxy on June 28th -we'll see how is compares!
We sailed Voyager of the Seas July 8-15, 2001. This was the second cruise for my wife and me, and the first for our two teenage boys, ages 15 & 17. We chose Voyager because of the numerous activities for kids, and because we were interested in the ship itself.
We arrived at the Port of Miami around 10:30, dropping off a rental car at the Avis agency. We had flown into Fort Lauderdale the day prior, and had rented the car at FLL to be dropped off at the pier in Miami. We had a little trouble locating the dropoff area, but fortunately we had checked the area out the day before when the traffic was light. We deposited our luggage curbside and entered the terminal to begin the check in process. The line seemed a bit long for that time of the morning, but moved quickly thanks to several agents dedicated to moving people up to the counters just before the prior party finished up. The process seemed pretty efficient. We happened to get in line just ahead of a large group of 15 year old girls from Argentina,otherwise we might have waited quite a bit longer. We were aboard by 11:00.
We booked a Category D6 Stateroom (outside w/veranda) for us and a Category N (inside) directly across the hall for the boys. Our cabin was comfortably sized, with plenty of room for a full sofa and queen sized bed. The veranda had two patio chairs and a small table, and was perfect for enjoying breakfast, watching arrival or departure from port, or just relaxing. Many of the balconies that I could see had at least one side made of the translucent glass I'd heard many folks speak of, but both sides of ours were made of steel. It was very private unless one of the kids next door peeked around on purpose.
The cabins were both well designed with plenty of storage space, some of it tucked into some out of the way places, but there was more than enough room for everything we brought. The closet was quite spacious with two levels of hangers with the lower sections able to fold out of the way for longer items. There were shelves in the end as well. The desk had drawers on each side of the chair for storage, and the end unit held the refrigerator in the lower section, the TV (a 19 inch model which was nice) with two cupboards above, one of which held the safe. Small shelves on the end provided a place to sit a camera or binoculars. There was room under the bed for more suitcases than we had.
According to our steward, the much-maligned minibar system had been discontinued, so there were no concerns about paying for any items we moved or touched. There was no liquor in the refrigerator, only a couple of cans of soda and a bottle of water. We found there was room to store our own water with no problems.
From a distance Voyager of the Seas is impressive but does not look as large as it really is. Up close or alongside another ship it is amazingly huge! The public areas and various amenities have been well documented elsewhere, so I won't dwell on those other than to say that everything was impressively designed and decorated. The art was plentiful and eclectic in style, ranging from paintings to photography (my interest) and sculpture.
Our favorite spot was High Notes, a jazz club located in the Viking Crown on Deck 14. It was a great place to enjoy a drink, take in the view and enjoy some top-quality live music. The jazz was first-rate and the service was excellent. All of the lounges offered good service and a nice atmosphere, and one could find just about any type of music desired.
I'm not a food expert and don't pretend to be. Shipboard dining is better than we get at home and comparable to what we get when we eat out and we are seldom disappointed. We ate all of our dinners in the main dining room, and felt that the menu selections were a bit lacking in variety but altogether quite good. There were always alternate choices on the menu, but they changed nightly so one could not always count on ordering a particular item if none of the choices were appealing. For example, sirloin steak would appear one night but not the next, rather than being ‘always available'. We were surprised and somewhat disappointed in the lack of chocolate dessert choices early on, but were rewarded later in the week with several yummy selections.
Johnny Rockets proved to be an excellent choice for lunch on port days, but the lines got rather long on sea days and for dinner. The burgers and shakes are outstanding there. The Windjammer and Island Grill are buffets, and the food is typical buffet fare, not outstanding but very adequate. The Cafe Promenade offered goodies, including pizza, around the clock.
For the formal nights we rented tuxes for me and the boys through Cruiseline Formals. The tuxes were delivered to our staterooms on Monday. A minor mixup in jacket size for one of the boys was quickly remedied. It proved to be a convenient way to dress up, and was far more economical than buying suits for the boys to wear and saved us a suitcase by eliminating all the extra gear.
Ports & Shore Excursions
We have developed the approach that for us, the ship itself is the destination. The ports just give the ship somewhere to go. As a result we tend to poke around the port a little in the morning, then head back to the ship for lunch and some quiet time at the pool.
Voyager called on Labadee Haiti, Ocho Rios Jamaica, Georgetown Grand Cayman, and Cozumel Mexico. Labadee was a surprisingly scenic spot, with lots of places to explore, relax and commit some serious photography. We explored each of the ports on foot, spending a little time shopping and sightseeing, but did no formal excursions. In our opinion, port days afford a great opportunity to explore areas of the ship that tend to be too crowded to enjoy otherwise.
We chose Voyager because of the many opportunities for entertainment on board. Our teens spent a lot of time at Optix, the teen center and disco, made some friends and hung around with them rather than participate in most of the organized activities, which included a welcome party and numerous get-acquainted games. They spent a lot of time and way too much money in the arcade, which represented a significant portion of our shipboard charges!
For the big kids the opportunities were endless. The week started off with a Bon Voyage parade on the Royal Promenade. The parades were fun, but the lack of vantage points for viewing was most evident here, with a lot of people crowding the ‘street' and stairways to catch a glimpse. The parades were the only time I can really say I felt like we were on a ship with 3700 people. The ice shows were popular and one could only get admission by picking up advance tickets. They went fast, and there were only four shows, two scheduled for each dinner seating group. Other activities included, in no particular order and by no means complete: sports deck, gaming lessons, art shows and auctions, a grandparent bragging party, bingo, crafts, horse racing, wine tasting, the Not-So Newlywed Game, rock climbing, golf and much, much more. If anyone was bored they just weren't trying!
This was interesting. Since we had boarded the ship at 11:00, and it was clear that others were on before us, we figured that they'd have everyone off the ship pronto. Not so. On the Thursday of the cruise we were instructed to fill out a departure questionnaire using our interactive television. Among the questions was one about flight arrangements where they asked the guest to list the time of his/her flight. Being rather naïve we put down the actual time of our flight, but on Sunday it quickly became evident that we were among the very few that did, because we were among the last to disembark, not getting off the ship until 10:30. With a 12:50 flight out of Fort Lauderdale and still having to rescue our baggage and clear customs we cut it way too close. To top it off we saw people at the airport that had flights at the same time or later than us who got off the ship an hour or more before we did. A valuable lesson about honesty, I think. We won't be so naïve the next time!
There was nothing that detracted from a great vacation, although there were several noteworthy shortcomings. The interactive TV worked great for accessing our shipboard account, shore excursions and the schedule of activites. Two features that did not work for the entire cruise were the Report from the Bridge and the Stock Tracker. The Report from the Bridge is supposed to give continuous information as to location, weather, sea conditions, speed and direction of the ship, distance sailed and distance to the next port. The only time it was right was when we were still in Miami, and even then I don't think the time was correct. The Stock Tracker allows one to set up a portfolio of stocks and receive daily closing prices. The prices were never updated, and in fact showed prices from several weeks prior. This was certainly not the end of the world, but disappointing just the same.
Dining room service was inconsistent. For example it was not uncommon to get a salad and then wait for or have to remind the assistant waiter for salad dressing, or to have to ask to see the wine list. There were several unexplained breaks between courses that seemed longer than normal. These did not seem to be the fault of the wait staff, as it seemed everyone was in the same situation.
Tender service on Labadee was insufficient, with long lines to board one of only two tenders to shore or back to the ship. By contrast there were four or five tenders operating in Grand Cayman, and there were virtually no lines either way.
All in all it was a wonderful vacation. I'm not thrilled about paying the steeper fares required to sail during peak times, but it was the only way to go with the kids. I'm a lot happier paying the greatly reduced rates during the off season when I feel I can get the same experience for much less. Would I sail on Voyager again? Definitely. Would I sail Royal Caribbean again? Without a doubt. I haven't done this enough to speak authoritatively, but I'd venture to say the experience was typical for the time of year and for a cruise on a mainstream line, with a great ship, outstanding service, plenty of variety and lots of fun.
If Royal Caribbeans intention was to build the first truly floating resort, than with the launching of the Voyager of the Seas they more than succeeded in this effort.
After having been on 14 cruises in last 15 years I consider myself a cruise aficionado and after reading the reviews on all the cruise boards concerning this ship I must admit I was expecting just another cruise albeit a significantly large one.
First I want to say that I don't intend to describe all the features found on board this vessel (other reviews have described the ship endlessly and better than I can) but rather add my insight as to the intangibles and nuances that I observed. If my comments and observations can aid anyone booked or is planning to book aboard the Voyager , than I consider this a job well done.
When you first enter the Port of Miami , you realize the only ship visible is the Voyager. Towering some 20 stories tall it truly is a massive structure, and stands out from all other ships in port, how massive she really is will be described later.
The terminalis reminiscent of the Canada Terminal in Vancouver, complete with canvas sails, and is quite large inside with many passenger embarkation personal to aid in the pre-boarding procedure. This was the fastest I have ever been cleared to embark taking approximately five minutes. And this was taking place at 1:00 in the afternoon with no crowds, or lines. Two comments I have to make here, first, the embarkation staff are extremely helpful and friendly. Second , they will ask you for a birth certificate , unusual for me since this was first time I was ever asked to produce one.
The gangway to the ship is well designed and very wide affording lots of room to maneuver carry-on luggage. It deposits you on deck 4 where you enter the ship at the Aquarium bar. There are ship personal to greet you and direct you to your cabin but you do not get Celebrity Cruises white glove service personal escorts. In all fairness to Royal Caribbean, with 3000+ passengers this attention would be very draining on the staff and I can understand why it wasn't provided, but by the same token this is a very large and somewhat intimidating ship (especially to the elderly passengers) and on a case by case basis they should consider aiding some of these passengers.
The hallways leading to the cabins are brightly colored and wide and you will feel as though you were on a land based hotel rather than a cruise ship. After getting acclimatized with Port and Starboard I arrived at my cabin on deck 9 (inside).
The doors to the cabins are very much like hotel doors in that they are textured in a sea scallop shape and are tropical pink in color (very Caribbean) and very nice touch.
The cabins are traditional Royal Caribbean, small yet acceptable, although I must comment that there was barely enough draw space and I was traveling alone. Had there been two or more in a cabin this size it would have been quite a challenge. On other cruise boards I have read comments that R.C.I. doesn't supply amenities such as shampoo, soap, or hair dryers. This is not the case. The hair dryer can be found in the top draw of the vanity. There was a comment about the lack of cloths hangers . Again this was not the case, in fact there were more hangers than on any other ship I'd traveled on. (I counted 30 in my closet) There is a personal safe, although it is not mentioned in any of the cabin or suite descriptions. The interactive television .has been discussed in other reviews and the only comment I can make here is that it always performed well and accurately. If you are interested in knowing the time of day I would suggest you bring a travel clock that lights . The only clock in the cabin is located on the telephone and is not lit a minor detail that R.C.I. could easily correct.
When first discovering this ship you are immediately overwhelmed with its beauty and the dedication of the architects to make sure no detail was overlooked.
Individual descriptions of the public spaces have been done before and the one comment that comes to mind is that this ship has to be seen in person to truly be appreciated , as words alone cannot do it justice.
I will attempt whenever possible to point out the minor details and touches that added to my experience on board, for instance while waiting for the Centrum elevators there is inlaid woodwork above you and marble and brass floor indicators that add just that extra touch of class.
Although this ship is remarkably beautiful and luxurious the underlying feeling on board is one of light hearted whimsy. This is evident from the down to earth attitude of the Captain , Johnny Faevelen , ( the most entertaining and personable ships captain I have ever cruised with, he genuinely enjoys what he does and his attitude reflects on the entire staff ) to the comical interplay of the "Krooz Komics" ( four talented graduates of Ringling Brothers clown college, who can be seen throughout the cruise in various parts of the ship performing mime acts, juggling, and comedy routines that occasionally involve unsuspecting passengers in good natured mayhem.)
Which brings up the subject of entertainment. I thought I had seen great performances in the past especially aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines Norway, and Seaward, but as good as those acts were nothing compares with the entertainment found aboard this ship. It is extremely varied from classical to jazz, eclectic comedy to fantastic acts of acrobatics on ice. Special note must be made to the ice shows held twice a cruise and by all means should not be missed . They were so well performed it was the only show I had to attend twice. The shows are held in the ice arena ( Studio B located on deck 3) This room is unique in that it is a true arena with stadium seating . This room also acts as a concert hall when the ice is covered. ( A sockhop is held here complete with rock band and light show M.C.'d by non other than Austin Powers) The ice show incorporates ten competition skaters doing intricate choreography set to inspiring music accompaniment and spectacular lighting effects. The highlight of the show is when two skaters lit only in black light are attached to cables and transfer from ice to the air above the audience doing flips and spins. It was very emotional and amazing to see. After the Ice-Capade portion is done there is head to head Olympic style competition done with television coverage shown on jumbo- trons located around the room. Being in the television business I was very impressed, it was comparable to the coverage you would expect to see on ABC's Wide World of Sports. The competitors perform routines difficult for full sized land based ice rinks and when you consider that triples and somersaults are attempted and successfully done on a moving cruise ship, it is nothing short of miraculous. Of all the acts and shows performed on board during the cruise in my opinion this show was the weeks highlight . A hint for future passengers, the arena seats on three sides but the best seating is in the center. Arrive 15 minutes early and you'll have no problems getting the seat you want. This also holds true for the La Scala Theatre as well. The Voyager has scheduled all the shows and events in such a way as to not over-lap. You never have to leave an event early to be able to attend something else, and being able to get to the shows early assures you of getting good seating.
Seating is very important in the La Scala Theatre where the sight lines in the balcony are poor in some locations. The two wings of the stage are also used by the performers so the best seating in this theatre is definitely center either orchestra or balcony avoid the sides.
The best show in the theatre is "Dreamscape", a song and dance extravaganza yet done with a fresh approach and performed by a great cast of singers and dancers.( Not just another revue).
During my cruise I got to see the performance of comedians Mario and Daniel and they were absolutely hysterical. Other acts included Tony Tillman, a high energy song and dance man as well as various Ed Sullivan type performers.
Another highlight of the Voyagers barrage of entertainment not to be missed takes place in the Royal Promenade where two parade spectaculars take place. The first night is a welcome aboard parade with all the entertainers on the ship participating in fabulous costumes. This is also where the captain and his crew are introduced. There is a laser light show and the parade in very much like being in the Yellow Submarine cartoon. The actors get the passengers involved and the feeling at this parade is truly magical. ( Make sure you get a position on the Pubs side of the Promenade bridge to get the best view)
During the day the Promenade is the stage for the Krooz Komics and they are great fun. All the descriptions of this space have been reviewed but when you walk through be sure to notice the center ceiling area. There is a round mirrored tube that has tiffany lighting as is very unusual and can easily be overlooked . And don't forget to say hello to Bridget, or check on the painter.
When I first decided to book my vacation on the Voyager I had read disparaging comments concerning the food and service. This could not have been further from the truth. My last three vacations were aboard Celebrity Cruise Lines and although R.C.I. is not in their category I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of the food served. The service in the dinning room was first rate, with service being prompt and efficient. The deserts were some of the best I've eaten, and the wine service was professional and extensive.
The dinner in the Portofino restaurant was very good and the service there was also prompt and efficient. The deserts served in this restaurant were even better than in the main dinning room the Tirimasu being scrumptious. Another hint here is to make your reservations as soon as possible as there was no availability by the end of the week. (The best days are Wednesday and Friday.)
Other events worthy of noting are the Captains welcome aboard party. This is held the second evening and is not your typical meet the captain take a picture event. This cocktail party is held in the Royal Promenade where all the bars are closed and as far as you can see , champagne glasses are prepared and served along with hot and cold horsd'oeuvres . It is amazing that a true cocktail party can be arranged For 1500+ passengers and still have it feel like an intimate party.
Another party that was very impressing was the repeaters party held in Cleopatra's Needle, the largest lounge on board. An open bar with music and food complete with ice carvings greeted over 1300 repeat passengers (a tribute to R.C.I.) This party culminated with the appearance of the captain who spent a good amount of time with his guests. Few repeat parties have compared with this one.
Not to let anyone feel left out the captain addressed the entire ship on the last night when he held stage for a good 15-20 minutes at the good-bye show in the main theatre. It seems that this crew from captain to room steward is determined to ensure all guests are treated as guests not as customers.
In summation I have to say this was a great cruise experience and one I was not anticipating. This ship is the ultimate cruise ship which all others must be measured against, not just in size but in what it has to offer. It rivals any land based resort and surpasses most of those.
I would be remiss if I didn't comment on a few of the things that I found could be improved upon : First again let me state that this a very large ship. You really appreciate its size when you are tendering ashore in Labadee and from the tender you can't see the top of the ship, the front of the ship or the back of the ship. This size is also evident when navigating from place to place, it takes time and the elderly passengers were making comment that the ship was too big for them to negotiate. Perhaps a people mover of some sort could be implemented in future constructions.
The pool deck though huge, seems somewhat chaotic and the placement of an artistic glass pyramid seems to take up the space a dance floor could occupy.
Another small personal point was the lack of outdoor casual eating. I always enjoy having breakfast and lunch in the sun and to do this you would have to take your food out to the pool deck which would have been very inconvenient.
One last point concerned the English Pub "The Pig and Whistle", Guiness Stout on tap is really a great treat but it was unavailable after the first night do to lack of gas to operate the tap, this was very disappointing and was properly addressed by the staff.
Royal Caribbean has a winner of a product with this ship and I hope my experience is not a result of the fact that this was only the 12th cruise of this ship. It seems that what I had read on the cruise boards are listened to by Royal Caribbean and problems corrected thus improving cruise by cruise. Believe it or not you do have a feeling of intimacy on this ship even when you are surrounded by 3000+ of you closest friends. I am glad I was aboard this ship and proud to be among the many who can say they sailed her inaugural season.