Our Honeymoon....."Voyager of the Seas" on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines 5/13/01 - 5/20/01. We had a fabulous time on this ship and in the ports of call. I would definitely recommend this cruise to someone else, however there was one major problem we had and I will get into that more.
Labadee, I was nervous about this island because I wasn't sure what to expect since some of the reviews are mixed here. However, we thought that there was plenty to do and if you didn't want to do anything you could do that too. They have hammocks all over the place and plenty of lounge chairs for everyone. We snorkeled on our own here and while there isn't much to see it was still a lot of fun. We did the Waverunner tour and that was also a lot of fun. Oh and the banana boat ride was great too. Tip, if you want to enjoy more of it, don't take the front seat! Most of the time my eyes were closed because there was so much splash coming in my face. It rained at the end of theday as we were getting back on ship, but that didn't really bother us.
Ocho Rios, I did not like Jamaica at all, although when we were on the tours from the cruise ship, I had no problems. We did the Dunns River Falls trip, of course and there was also 2 shopping stops that our tour made as well. And in the early morning, we took a water taxi and snorkeled on our own. I got stuck in some Coral and got really scared and started freaking out because it was full of black sea urchins. My husband and the water taxi driver came and got me out though!
I have heard a lot of people say not to book your tour to Dunns River on ship, to just do it on your own. Well, I personally disagree with this. While I'm sure we would have saved money this way, I was scared of the people, I felt harassed the entire time we were on land and I would have been scared to get into a cab and do a tour by ourselves. I had offers to 'smoke', " Hey you like sum Hash Mon?" they practically pull you into their stores to buy anything and everything, to take a taxi and just about anything else you can imagine. They would follow us too...it never ended. I was glad to leave Jamacia and was so glad when we were back on ship. Dunns River though was great. We climbed all the way up during a thunderstorm. If you've seen Forest Gump and the part where he is talking about the rain coming sideways, from underneath him, and every which way, well that is what it reminded me of. The splash from the falls and the rain mixed into a very wet experience! It is very slippery on some spots and you have to hold hands in a long line of people. Now for me, this made it more difficult to climb up because I could have gotten a better hold of the rocks if I had 2 of my hands free. But it was still a lot of fun!!
Grand Cayman, Ok, I am ready to move here. Unfortunately I don't think I have enough money for that. We absolutely loved this island. It is so gorgeous and the water is unlike anything I've ever seen. It's a turquoise color and so clear. Here we did a lot of shopping, stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe and went on another snorkeling tour. It was really awesome. We snorkeled in 100ft or more of water and it never felt like it to me! We also snorkeled at a Shipwreck site and that was fascinating too. I was very sad to leave this island. We had to be back on ship by 3:30p.m.
Cozumel, We liked this island 2nd best. Well what we can remember of it anyway! In the morning we had another tour, the Catamaran, Sail & Snorkel tour.... I actually have to admit I was disappointed in this. I have heard that Cozumel was awesome for snorkeling and we saw basically nothing, after I got stung for my second time by a Jellyfish, I got out of the water and went back to the Catamaran. The other couple we were hanging around, well the wife, got stung 5 times!! I guess the Jellyfish in Cozumel like girls, none of our husbands got stung!! haha
After snorkeling our Catamaran took us to a Private beach for Kayacking and lounging around on water mats. That was great. The Catamaran also was giving out Free Beer and Margaritas. Another plus. After we got done in the morning, we went back to the ship and showered and headed back out into town. We ended up at the infamous Carlos N Charlies. Oh my goodness is this place fun!! Go there! It was PACKED! They said it was an hour wait for a table, but we waited about 15 minutes. We ended up drinking a little, ok A LOT too much, and thank goodness the taxis are right outside of the restaurant! I don't know how we would've gotten back to the ship. I vaguely remember getting a "Property of Carlos N Charlies" Stamp on my butt! haha....We danced on our table and when they found out we were on our Honeymoon and that it was our 1 Week Wedding Anniversary, they practically killed us with FREE Sex on the Beach shots! The food there was awesome too! Who'da thunk it?
The Ship, The ship of course is Gigantic and so beautiful, and I have to say with 3602 guests on board, I never felt crowded. Sometimes at the Pool, but that was only on days at Sea. I mean, where are you gonna go really?
The dining room service was so awesome and our waitress Isabel was a doll, who I wanted to take home with me. We sat at a table for 2 because after the first night we got switched from our table of 10 after 6 of the guys who were with another group requested to be seated somewhere else. But I liked this way better. The food was unbelievable, and the choices they gave you every night were just out of this world! I have also heard complaints about the food too, but I had none! Neither did my husband. There were more utensils on the table that are EVER needed, in fact they remove some for you before you even get the chance to use them. It must have been for looks.
Our cabin, a suite (at least that is what it was called in the brouchure ;-) ) was small, but I can understand why. To make room for all of the wonderful things this ship has to offer, like the 3 story mall (Promenade), the shops and restaurants and ALL OF THE BARS!! There were so many choices but our favorite was 'High Notes' it was a Jazz Club, but it was our favorite because the floor to ceiling glass looked out over the entire front of the ship! It was awesome watching sunsets there! Up on deck 13 I believe.
There was a 2 story theater that sat over 2000 guests and the Ice skating rink put on a show like I've never seen before. The whole ship was brass, marble and tile and glass. Very fancy.
We were able to see the ship from the Airplane as we landed in Miami, that is how big the ship is! Then when it was docked next to other ships, it dwarfed them!
My BIGGEST and only complaint is the way they Disembark. They give you these flimsy color coded tags to be put on your luggage and leave outside your door the night prior to departure and you tear off the marching tracking number and keep that with you. They call you off the ship by color. No problem. You go to a carousel like in an airport and wait for your luggage. The only problem is that half of the tags get ripped off somehow by the time it makes it the 5 feet from the ship to the baggage carousel!!
So out of 3602 people on the ship, my husband and I were the 2 people who, after waiting 2 HOURS, did not have our luggage. A RCCL rep found some other exactly identical luggage and only THIS luggage had ID tags on it. I immediately copied the peoples names and phone numbers, would you believe they were from Philly too?!?! Luckily our RCCL rep was able to get in touch with USAirways and we were able to grab the stupid people off the plane that took our luggage and we were also able to get the luggage off the Airplane! However, when we got to the airport these people didn't have their luggage because it didn't go through customs with us. I wasn't about to take it through! We questioned RCCL why they don't check peoples bags and they said that they should but they don't! So basically anyone can walk off with anyones luggage. I do not understand why RCCL wont let you take your luggage with you. I also don't understand why those people that took our luggage never even checked to see if their names were on it! Especially since their luggage had their names on them and RED tags and we had ribbons on our luggage and BROWN tags! The wife said to me, "Well I opened it and saw a Pink bathing suit!" I said, "There IS NO PINK BATHING SUIT IN HERE!" So then she said, "Well, I saw this shirt," (as she picks up one of my husbands shirts) "and it looked like my husbands" Oh, we were so mad! We were suppose to catch a 12:15 flight and we weren't even at the airport by 11:15 yet. We had to run like crazy to get out flight!
BTW, our flimsy color coded tags, our name tags and even our ribbons were ripped off our luggage somehow. But it all worked out in the end! My husband, who I had to drag onto a cruise in the first place, was screaming how he will NEVER cruise again, let alone with RCCL. But now that we are back and remembering all of the wonderful memories we made, he has changed his mind and we are now booking a cruise for New Years Eve!
All in all, it was a great trip and I would go again tomorrow, only this time I would use a carry on!
If you have any questions or want to talk about the ship, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd be glad to help with whatever I can!
EMBARKATION: Approaching the ship in our taxi, we saw the monstrous superstructure of the ship in the distance. What a site. All other ships in the harbor, including the Norway, were dwarfed! From the sheer size of the vessel, we thought we were in for hours of long lines and hot irritable passengers. Embarkation, however, was a breeze - we were on the ship in 15 minutes. The process was very highly organized (and we went a little early - around 11:30 am). Kudos to RCI for this!
CABINS: We had 2 adjacent, inside cabins ("N" category - one for our children, ages 23, 18, and 14) on Deck 8. The cabins were immaculate, although not roomy. Storage space was cleverly designed, however, and we had enough room. We do not spend much time in cabins anyway, so this was not a problem. The room attendant, Kerwin, was fantastic - and yes, he created the much-discussed towel animals every night, which were great (and each one photographed by us). His services were flawless and he truly is an asset to RCI. Slipping in and out of the rooms when we were gone,the cabins were always clean and organized. We ordered room service once and the order was delivered in a very timely manner. Cabin corridor carpeting, unfortunately, is a light color and is already stained. Although we did not use the mini-bar much, I did take a couple of sodas out of there at night @ $1.75 each. Although expensive, I've seen much more expensive mini-bars in cities such as New York, Boston, and Chicago.
FOOD: Better than we expected given some of the reviews we read before we went. We ate only 2 dinners in the Carmen restaurant because the boys liked the Island Grill, Windjammers, and Johnny Rockets (for which we only experienced infrequent lines to get in) better. The Carmen had acceptable food, but nothing too out of the ordinary. There was, though, good variety and nice presentation in the Carmen. The on-board coffee was mediocre in the Promenade Cafe and actually terrible in Windjammers. They need to so something about this and I have read that RCI has signed a contract with Seattle's Best Coffee to provide fleet service in the near future, which should take care of this problem. Cafe Promenade always had pizza, nice sandwiches, and even deserts to stave us between meal hunger pangs. We did not go to Portofino's as the pp cover charge has now increased to $20 (why when you pay so much to begin with?) Island Grill had a relaxed, casual, buffet presentation and some of the food here was quite good - especially the deserts. Johnny Rockets had great fries and onion rings, various (and good) burgers, but one still has to pay for shakes (really good) and specialty sodas, which seems a little silly and serves to cheapen the RCI experience somewhat. In fact, there are a lot of little extra charges that add up by the end of the week. It does feel a little money-grubbing and "nickel and dimeing" and detracts from the overall cruise experience.
PUBLIC ROOMS/SERVICE: Awesome. All the rooms were graceful, pretty, and functional. As others reviews have mentioned, we never really felt crowded on the ship despite it carrying over 3100 passengers and 1200 crew. Only the elevators and Promenade were occasionally crowded, depending on shipboard events. We particularly liked the High Notes Bar (server Barbara from Chile was just great and will be fondly remembered) and the Aquarium Bar. Service in all the bars was quick and professional. Drink prices were "city average". The availability of draft Bass, Amstel Light, and Heineken was a plus. The mixed drinks we had were well done, not weak as rumored. Casino Royale was great - big place too. The slots don't pay like Vegas, but we did make about $80 some nights, only to lose it others. Fun all the same... La Scala theater was gorgeous, although we did not see the major production, "Dreamscapes" while on board. "Ice Jammin" was awesome in the skating rink area. The Pig & Whistle pub was much anticipated, but we found it not well-enough lit inside to give it that authentic English pub feel and there was a rude bartender in there, so after an unpleasant experience, we stopped going there. The library was nice and my son did some homework in there.
The Vault was okay - I went there once with two of my children, one 23 and one 18. The 23 year-old was particularly anticipating this as he is into and composes techno music, but found that The Vault's DJ played almost exclusively rap. More variety here would be appreciated.... Guest Relations services were professional and expeditious. Booking the tours on-line via the TV was a breeze and we could not understand why there were such long lines at the Explorations Desk near Guest Relations to book these tours - I guess people don't read.... Some of the tours themselves are a bit pricey - ex. $14 pp to get a beach chair and one drink and you still have to get yourself there and back via taxi! Come on....
PORTS OF CALL: HAITI - very nice day. Barbeque was great, weather was also. Nice beaches. A lot of drink selling on the beach, which was a bit annoying, but did not detract from the experience. Visited the Dragon's Breath blowhole, which was cool. OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA - Cloudy day in Ocho Rios, but we took the Rose Hall/Beach tour and it was semi-sunny in MoBay. Fun tour and good time had by all. CAYMAN'S - we did not go ashore, choosing to spend our time by the pool on the ship. RCI personnel told us that the Cayman's were very expensive. We heard others though that went and they said they had a great time... COZUMEL: We had booked the Tulum Mayan ruins and Xel-Ha lagoon tour on the mainland. We took a ferry from the ship to Playa del Carmen, where we boarded the bus for the tour, about a half hour away. Kind of rough seas that day and some ferry passengers were getting seasick. Playa del Carmen was stunning - beautiful azure waters and beaches. Clean town area. Vendors selling to you as you walk up the streets to your buses, but not too aggressively. Tulum was great, very educational. It was very hot, about 95 degrees that day, so after our guide was done showing us around, we dove into the surf on the beach to cool off. Then, it was off to Xel-Ha. This too was a fantastic place to visit. But better instructions are needed here, as by the time you find out where to do the things you want to do, your time at Xel-Ha is almost gone. Lots of people were snorkeling and swimming and there are adequate shops for those with hydrophobia. Clean park. The lagoon was warm and sandy - beautiful. The beaches, however, were rocky and appeared dangerous. Overall, Xel-Ha is a gorgeous place. Dolphins are there too!
DEBARKATION: As smooth as embarkation - we whisked through customs, grabbed a cab and were at the airport within minutes of stepping off the ship. Couldn't believe how smooth it all went. Again, hats off to RCI for this!
SUMMARY: This was the best vacation of our lives. We were so impressed, while on board Voyager, we booked a southern Caribbean cruise on the yet-to-be-launched, Adventure of the Seas (the latest sister ship to Voyager and Explorer), due for completion in October. Can't recommend RCI and their ships enough..
All I can say is unbelievable. The Voyager was way more than I ever expected. This review is geared towards all of us first timers, what you really wanted to know but didn't want to ask. This is very long but informative.
Background I surfed the web all summer and the beginning of Fall 2000 searching for the perfect cruise for my husband and I. He already had reservations about being on the ocean and after a 4 year plea for him to go, I wanted to make sure everything was perfect. I booked through cruise411.com, my first purchase via the Internet and everything went smoothly. After I booked my cruise, I became a cruise junkie, surfing every day to hit my favorite cruise sites for the latest and greatest information on the Voyager. Until you experience the Voyager, nothing can prepare you for what you will experience.
The Packing List I used Calgon's and the Diva packing list to pack for the cruise. All I have to say, is enough already. All those extra items will sit in your room and take up luggage space. My cruise was 7 nights. Thisis what you really need to bring...your normal day to day toiletry items. Ladies be warned, everyone lounges around all day, so your hair is pulled back or put up, you know your normal Saturday hairdo. In the evenings about 35% of the ladies did the makeup, curled hair and went way out. The remaining 65% of us, including me were still on vacation and put our hair up or pulled back and put on a nice linen sun dress w/ a nice pair of sandals. Make sure to get a pedicure and manicure before you leave home. The prices on the ship are ridiculous.
Day Wear 7 pair of shorts and 7 t-shirts/tanks, these outfits should be very, very casual because everyone on the ship is lounging. 2 - 3 swimsuits (cover-up is personal preference, I preferred a pair of gym shorts, how many you bring is also personal preference, we had 3 sea days so one for each day, especially if you get in the pool/hot tub). 1 - comfortable pair of sandals and 1 pair - gym shoes & socks. I didn't wear my gym shoes but I didn't play basketball/volleyball or go on any excursions where gym shoes were needed. Aqua shoes if you're going to Dunn's River Falls or the beach. Don't forget your belt.
Evening Wear 2 formals and shoes to match. The other 5 nights are personal preference. 5 sun dresses or mix and match pants sets/capri sets along w/ shoes to match. Remember to bring a small purse to take w/ you to dinner. This too is personal preference. If you don't mind carrying your card, camera, lipstick in your pocket or your hand no big deal.
You really do need 7 casual, 2 formals/nice dresses/suits and 5 smart casual outfits. But also keep in mind no one will notice if you mix and match. YOU NEED 15 CHANGES OF UNDERWEAR/CLOTHES. This is very important. You change clothes twice a day, morning and then evening. I just tossed several pairs in my suitcase w/o counting and it just so happened I had bought two packages of underwear before I left and tossed them in the suitcase as well. I was saved but made a big mental note for next time. The additional things you need are a camera and all its accessories, bottled water (mainly for the excursions, it's hot), backpack, reading material (Voyager has a library and book exchange. I read two of the Oprah Book Club books, thanks to the book exchange), soda if you're an avid soda drinker and don't want to pay $1.50 per can of coke (they have plenty to drink, so you won't go thirsty, soft drinks are free at dinner, so I would get my fix then), mesh bag for dirty laundry, extra duffle bag to carry home souvenirs.
Embarking and Disembarking I had absolutely no problem with embarking and disembarking. I've read many reviews and I don't think anyone had any major gripes with this. The lines moved faster than your local amusement park lines for your favorite ride. The luggage at disembarking was on a carousel, so make sure you mark you luggage w/ something. I found bright yellow velcro Luggage wraps which wrapped around your luggage handles and doubled as identity cards. Everyone has black luggage. And I mean everyone. Make sure to get your bags out the last night. I was concerned w/ people stealing my luggage but I didn't have any problems.
The Ship Remarkable. Huge. Unbelievable. Absolutely Wonderful. This was my first cruise as mentioned above and I was in awe for 7 days. I'm already planning my family cruise and a Girls Getaway. So I'm looking at two more cruises w/in the next 18 months. You guessed it, I'm addicted. I was most amazed at how well the ship was laid out and the time and effort that was put in to making this ship work. I still was getting lost by the end of the week but I did finally realize I was at the front of the ship and I still can't tell you what side. You will get plenty of exercise. There was some much to do. Another reason, I must go back. I became a bingo, gambling and horse racing addict. I would make sure I was there for those events and miss everything else or eat until it was time for me to go. The art work was very nice. You could spend a week just admiring the art. There was no push to buy art. They had a couple of auctions but you didn't have to go and they didn't interrupt everything to push the auction on you. Royal Promenade was like walking down a small city main street. Cafe promenade was the diner, numerous bars, little gift shops, and Spinners the Nickel casino. It was a nice place to hangout and people watch.
My room - 9544 It was just that a room w/ a bed, 2 night stands, shower, sink and toilet, closet, desk w/ vanity, love seat, table and balcony w/ two chairs and small table, safe and mini bar. You really are only in your room to sleep and change clothes. You don't need a whole lot of room and they don't give you a whole lot of room. It reminded me of a dorm room w/ half the space but decorated like a hotel room. But you don't feel crowded and there's enough space to walk around. The bathroom is small and the shower is even smaller. Imagine a half bath, very small in size w/ a toilet and sink. They're building these in a lot of homes now. Well slide the toilet against the wall and put a cylinder next to it as the shower. Now push the sink as close to the toilet and shower as you can w/ room enough for your knees if you're sitting on the toilet. There you have your bathroom while you're on your cruise. But they did make use of every inch in the bathroom. You have a nice medicine cabinet, shelves under the sink, hooks on the bathroom door (for the nice thick terry clothe robe they lend you during your stay), and shelves in the shower for soap/shampoo. They have a shampoo/conditioner dispenser in the shower. That was very nice. If you don't care what shampoo you use, two less items you have to pack. You don't need to bring a clock, just wear a watch. The time is on the TV and telephone. Plus, it's just like a hotel, room service and wake up calls. The TV is wonderful. It's like the Jetsons. You can order room service (don't waste your time, very limited selection but pretty good breakfast), order your excursions, see how much you charged on your Super Folio Charge Card, watch movies, order movies ($8.95), different ship activities which were taped, review of the ship excursions. And numerous other things. This is a very neat feature.
Pools There's the main pools, the adult pool (Solarium) and the children's pool. Along w/ numerous Jacuzzis. There's also a stage where the band plays during the day. A nice spin for a fun day at the pool. There are numerous lounge chairs all around the pool. Specifically, deck 11 and 12. There's also ledges w/ lounge chairs leading up to the 12th deck. So lounge chairs weren't an issue. Yes, I did see people saving chairs w/ towels but if it was a seat I wanted, I removed the towel and made myself a new home for the day. There were also numerous pool helpers removing towels.
Bars EVERYWHERE!!! I'm not a drinker but enjoy a good margarita or strawberry daiquiri every now and then. The drinks were weak but the bars are plentiful. At almost $6 a pop, I thought the drinks would be loaded or at least have a good taste. NOT!!! That was one of my biggest disappointments. But since I'm not a drinker it was no big deal. When my family travels, I'll be sure to inform them to bring their own Vodka, gin and tequila to spice up their drinks.
Restaurants/Food Plentiful. I'm a country girl and enjoy good food. The food wasn't moms but it was good. The Windjammer and Island Grill is similar to your local Furr's or Luby's and I mean just that Furr's and Luby's. Numerous salads, main entree, side dishes, desserts, lemonade and tea. I started making lunch a 5 course meal. The Windjammer/Island Grill is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all those midday snacks. The main dinning room, which occupies three floors is also open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast and lunch was open sitting and dinner was assigned dinner. Your table and dining room is on your charge card. You have to see it to believe it. It was like a three deck very very nice banquet style setting. Very, very nice like your Omni/Anatole style hotels. Gorgeous chandelier and art. I never made it to breakfast or lunch but dinner was nice. New menu every day offering a 5 course meal: appetizer, soup, salad, entree and dessert. The menu also had standard entrees like your steak and potatoes. Johnny Rocket's, the 50 style diner was great. They serve hamburgers and fries/onion rings, along w/ milkshakes. Now that I think about I never bought a milkshake. Another to do when I go back. by Wednesday, this was my hangout for lunch. They're open 11:30 am until I think 11pm. I kept saying I was going back for a late snack but never made it. There's also Cafe Promenade. Cafe Promenade is at one end of the Royal Promenade so every time you walk the Promenade you're tempted to get something. They serve little sandwiches, pizza, desserts and cookies, ice cream (Sprinkles is on the side of Cafe Promenade, self serve ice cream and toppings, I think it's actually ice milk), coffee and tea. So you have 5 places to eat. If you don't find something at one place try another. At the beginning of the week you go wild. I wasn't hungry for dinner the first couple of nights because I ate all day. But I didn't care I would stuff myself for dinner anyway. by Wednesday I put myself on an eating schedule. I had main dining so I would try and stop eating by 3pm so I would be hungry for 6pm dinner. My dining room was the Magic Flute, deck 5 after dinner I would have to walk by the Royal Promenade, stuffed as a tick, and still grab a couple of chocolate chip cookies on my way upstairs to my room. If you enjoy eating, you're going to love this ship!!!! And all the food is FREE!!!!
Activities - Basket/Volleyball, Golf, Rock Climbing, Skating, board games So you're not a pool person and sunbathing is not for you. That's OK too. They have organized activities as mentioned above or you can grab a couple of people and go to the 14th deck and play cards or board games. You can enjoy playing in the air condition or you can take them out on one of the decks. I don't recall seeing any dominoes. So you might want to pack them in your suitcase. But still Voyager has something to do for everyone, even the kids. I was quite impressed by the children programs. They seemed very organized and fun. The kids looked like they were really enjoying themselves.
Service Remarkable. I was really impressed at how clean the ship was in the common areas. If you do any entertaining you know how difficult it is to pick up after people and keep everything tidy. My waiter and busboy were great. I think a couple of times we annoyed him because we were at a mixed table - 30 something couple, 2 - 60+ couples and 4 older ladies, who we nicknamed the Golden Girls. We all had different request and demands. Just for putting up w/ us for a week they deserved a tip. The cabin steward was awesome. I'm still getting used to making up my bed and I've been home for 3 weeks. My first morning home, I was waiting for Adelle to come and make up my bed. I guess she missed the plane. You get so use to your cabin steward picking up after you and making up your bed, not to mention turning your bed down at night along w/ a towel animal and chocolates. One night she made a monkey hanging from a hanger. She hung the hanger in the ceiling. I opened the door after dinner and died laughing. It was too cute. Voyager goes out of its way to accommodate you and keep you happy. I suggest if you have any problems let them know immediately.
Entertainment The Broadway style shows were OK. You have to keep in mind all the entertainment is included in the price and they can't afford top of the line entertainment for 7 nights. The ice skating show was very good. Just that was worth whatever portion of your ticket goes to entertainment. Hal Frazier, singer/entertainer was on our cruise and he was really good. He performed Frank Sinatra and Nat Cole tunes, along w/some comedy. He kept telling us to eat and eat. He was funny. The La Scala theater was very nice and had a bar in it. I sat in a couple of different spots and all the sits had a good view of the stage. This was a nice touch before I went and lost all my money at the casino. The machines are tight but a few people did win. I looked at it as another form or entertainment. Dinner and a movie cost about $60 for two so dinner, show and $20 gambling a night was good for me. I was happy.
Shops I waited and waited for them to put everything on sale in the souvenir shops and they didn't. So I asked them why and they said because the other passengers have already purchased items and they didn't want to make them mad. They did have a side walk sale but it wasn't any of the cute/trendy T-shirts. They have a souvenir shop (T-shirts, mugs, jackets, knick knacks, postcards, hats), jewelry and crystal shop, liquor store, clothing store (very expensive, not like your Dillard's, Foley's or Macy's, more like a step above Neiman's or Nordstrom's) and the clothes weren't all that good. I think that shop is there for people who forget things or whose luggage is lost. All of these shops are along the Royal Promenade. So you won't do any major shopping on the boat. Do all of your shopping in Jamaica.
Excursions Make sure to attend the excursion talk or when they air it on TV watch it. They'll air it numerous times so you can catch it as your changing or when you call it a night.
Labadees Day of relaxation and/or shopping if you like flea market style shopping. If you don't want to be bothered by vendors don't go to the flea market area, go to the beach. They don't hound you. I was paranoid after reading all the reviews but it's not a problem. I enjoy bargaining. The BBQ style lunch was OK. But next time I'll eat lunch on the ship. There is not a whole lot to do on the island. This really is a day to relax and play at the beach. Do not go expecting an exotic beach and hotel. NOT. It looks like RCI cleaned a corner of the island, stuck up a pavilion and a flea market and said here's our private island. It is clean and relaxing. And a nice beach volleyball court as well as organized activities for the kids.
Ocho Rios Do all your souvenir shopping in Jamaica. You will bargain and receive the best price in Jamaica. My coworker told me the same thing and I made the mistake of saying I want to see what's in Cozumel. They do not go as low as the Haitians nor Jamaicans. Remember get all your souvenirs in Jamaica, you will save a ton of money. I highly recommend Peat Taylor. He was great!!! HEY MON NO PROBLEM" TOURS, BONHAM SPRING, LODGE P.O. ST. ANN Jamaica W.I., TEL: 876 975 0028, FAX: 876 975 0205, E-MAIL: email@example.com. It cost $25/pp and was worth every penny. He is very knowledgeable and accommodating. We climbed Dunn's River Falls first. We avoided all the crowds. It was 5 of us in the group going up the falls. It was so much fun. The guide stopped and took pictures of us as we climbed w/ our own personal cameras, he carried them up the falls for us. The guide was very personable. The groups after us were 20 - 30 people. You have to hold hands as you climb. So the less people on your chain the better. Afterwards, we went on a tour of Ocho Rios and the Fern Gullies. Peat was excellent. He even took us back to the ship to change clothes and eat lunch. He came back and picked us up and took us shopping. We shopped for a few hours and then he took us back to the ship. This was my best excursion. The vans were air conditioned and clean. Highly recommend Peat Taylor.
Cozumel Morning - shopped at the pier. Didn't feel like catching a cab downtown. This was my lazy relax day. At noon boarded the Fiesta Party Boat. Do not waste your time. This excursion is very misleading. You board the triple decker boat at the pier and they take you on a 30 - 40 minute ride to as they say a beautiful beach. The ride to the beach is fun and entertaining but the free unlimited margaritas and rum punch is horrible. The drinks are awful. I thought we're in Mexico the drinks will be awesome. NOT!! I had better trash can punch from my college days. All I can say is watered down kool-aid with a pinch of tequila. I don't know what was in the rum punch but it was worst than the margaritas. But the sad thing was if we had known the drinks were going to be so bad, I would have picked up some tequila and played quarters or something because the alcohol on the ship and at the pier was cheap. I was really looking forward to a nice drink after having two disappointing drinks on the ship. Anyway, we get to the beach which turns out to be Playa Del Sol Beach Club, which happens to be another excursion. Let me explain. The Fiesta Party boat cost $35/person and supposedly you get unlimited margaritas. The Cozumel Beach Break at Playa Del Sol Beach Club cost $19/pp and you get unlimited drinks from the bar but you have to catch a taxi, $20 per taxi up to 4-6 people. The difference: the Fiesta's drinks are watered down kool-aid and does not include the bar at the beach and the Cozumel Beach Break drinks are made at the beach and are very good. When you get to the beach and go to the bar they ask to see your wrist band, no wrist band no real drink. But you can buy them, $4/each. Worth every penny. They send you to the Fiesta Party Boat stand for the kool-aid. Something else to note, you leave at noon so make sure to eat lunch. Lunch on the ship isn't served until 11:30, which means you have to go to the Royal Promenade and grab some little sandwiches/pizza and cookies before you leave the ship. Or you can eat a large breakfast to hold you over. The beach is nice w/ a lot of activities to enjoy. They also have a pool if you don't want to get in the ocean, along w/ massages and a food pavilion if your hungry. I was very disappointed w/ this excursion and do not recommend it. I think I'm going to take up snorkeling for my next cruise.
Miscellaneous You can get cash at the casino by using your super charge card and they don't charge you a fee. I used this instead of the ATM machines. Guest relations will give you change for large bills. Smaller bills very helpful when bargaining. You have to go through the casino when you leave the theater. It takes will power not to stop and gamble. I failed every time and didn't realize it until the end of the cruise. Like I mentioned earlier, sodas are free in the dinning room for dinner. Don't touch the mini bar if you don't want to buy it. Have your cabin steward remove the items if it's going to be a problem. Remember you are on vacation and you don't need 10 pair of shoes and 4 suitcases. On the 3 sea days everyone has on their bathing suits and are relaxing. Enjoy yourself. And I mean everyone has on a bathing suit or lack there of. The horse race game is hilarious. Get a group of people together to buy a horse at the auction. Don't get addicted to the bingo. I spent so much money on bingo. Take the time to explore the ship. My tablemate never found the peek-a-boo bridge and it was awesome to see the captain and staff run the ship and all the gadgets. Read you daily Compass for up to date information. Very informative if you want to maximize your day. They have activities from 7am to the early morning hours. Do something or eat something you wouldn't normally do. I found out escargot wasn't all that bad and the best of them can limbo. You will never see these people again. A cruise is well worth the investment. ENJOY!!!!!
I'll definitely be back. There's still so much I want to experience on these type of ships. My good experiences far outweigh my bad experiences. I made the best out of the few inconveniences I experienced. You will enjoy this cruise.
PREVIOUS CRUISES This cruise was my eighth overall. It was my first with Royal Caribbean. My previous cruises include Premier's Big Red Boat Oceanic to the Bahamas; Celebrity's Zenith to the Western Caribbean; Majesty Cruise Line's Royal Majesty (currently NCL's Norwegian Majesty) to Bermuda; Holland America's Veendam to the Eastern Caribbean; Holland America's Westerdam to the Eastern Caribbean; Princess' Crown Princess to Alaska; and the Carnival Destiny to the Western Caribbean. Prior to my cruise on the Voyager, I had heard mixed reviews, but overall, everyone had agreed that she is a spectacular ship.
THE VOYAGER Allright, when I look back and think of the actual ship, certain words come to mind. Words like 'unbelievable', 'amazing', 'awesome', and 'incredible' are just a few. This ship is truly a sight to behold, and I was in awe of this ship from the minute I pulled up to the pier in Miami until I got off the following Sunday. I really feel that words cannot describe this ship, but I am going to try my best! There are so many public rooms on the Voyager; really too many to name. The heart of theship was the Royal Promenade. This space is unlike anything ever put on a cruise ship before, and I feel that it serves its purpose beautifully. There are several bars, a small casino, a cafe, several shops, and the Purser's Desk on the Royal Promenade. On either end of this enormous space is a centrum. The forward Centrum rises from Deck 2 all the way up to Deck 12. The Midship Centrum goes from Deck 2 up to Deck 14. Each Centrum is capped by a large glass wall which allows natural daylight to pour down during the day. The Voyager is designed so that virtually every public space is easily accessible from either Centrum, or the Royal Promenade. The three main dining rooms, Carmen, La Boheme, and Magic Flute are just aft of the midship Centrum, as are the buffet restaurants Windjammer and the Island Grille. Major entertainment areas such as the La Scala Theater, Casino Royale, and Studio B Center Ice are also right off the two Centrums. After an initial walkthrough of the ship, I found it to be very easy to navigate. One of my favorite features of Voyager of the Seas is the wrap around Promenade Deck on Deck 4. You can walk completely around the Voyager, from the very bow to stern. I just found this to be very enjoyable. Up top, on deck 11, is the Solarium Pool. This pool is decorated with a Greek theme, complete with columns and statues of Greek Gods (I think that's what they were.) This area was very nice and quiet, and it had an oversized hot tub which holds up to 16 people. Also on this deck are the two main pools, along with several hot tubs. This main pool area is quite large. There are two pools, side by side, with four hot tubs. Two are quite large, while the other two are normal sized. In between the two pools is a skylight which goes all the way down to Royal Promenade 6 decks below. This pool area did get crowded later in the afternoon, but it was very rarely a problem to find a chair. Further aft on this deck is Portofino's, Windjammer, and the Island Grille. Up a deck, on Deck 12 is the Adventure Ocean Kid and Teen area. This area featured a huge arcade, complete with air hockey and dozens of video games. Adjacent to the arcade is Johnny Rocket's. Forward on this deck is the Shipshape Gym. Up a deck, on Deck 13, is where most of the sports activities are located. Here, there is the rock climbing wall, a full sized basketball court, an inline skating track, a nine hole putt-putt golf course, and several gold simulators. Up on Deck 14, there is the Viking Crown Lounge. On the Voyager, this space is divided up into five areas. The Seven Hearts Card Room, the Cloud Nine Lounge, High Notes Jazz Club, the Crow's Nest Observation Lounge, and the 19th Hole Bar. Finally, up on Deck 15 is the Skylight Wedding Chapel. This ship is so superbly designed, that one never feels the crowds at all. On our sailing, we had 3,605 passengers, and 1,225 crew. Never during the entire cruise did I feel crowded, or wait in a line. This was very impressive to me, but not suprising since there are just so many things to do on Voyager of the Seas.
CABINS We were in cabin number 9230, a category D9 balcony stateroom on the starboard side of Deck 9 forward. The room was incredibly spacious. There is a full sized sofa with a coffee table, as well as two single beds which convert to a queen. A sliding glass door led to a very good sized balcony. The balconies on Voyager of the Seas are incredibly private. There are two chairs and a small table out on the balcony, and there was plenty of room for four people out there. The bathroom was very nice since there is a sliding glass door on the shower instead of an annoying curtain. Inside the cabin, there is a 19 inch TV, electronic safe, a stocked mini bar, and plenty of drawer space for two. We actually had four people in our cabin, so we were a little cramped for drawer and closet space, but we managed to survive. The television is fully interactive. On this TV, you can book shore excursions, order room service, order movies, and even fill out on board surveys. I was quite impressed with this cabin, and I did not find it to be very small like many have said of typical RCI cabins.
SERVICE All I can say, is that the Voyager boasts one of the finest crews afloat. Each and every one of them should be commended for the work they have done. Every crew member I encountered during the week greeted me with a smile. A cruise line cannot control the attitudes of their employees, so I found it amazing how nice and cordial everyone was on the Voyager. This staff is definitely the friendliest, and most personable group of people that I have ever encountered on a cruise. The service in all areas was excellent. My room steward, Earl was awesome. He always kept the room clean, kept drinks on ice, and greeted us every morning with a smile and a 'hello'. Our waiter, Pramode was excellent. He did everything we asked of him, and more. He had no problem taking special orders, and he took them with a smile. Our assistant waiter, Koray quietly did an excellent job. He knew what everyone wanted to drink by the second night. Our bar waiter, Phyllis was one of the friendliest people I have ever met. His cheerful smile and laughter always put a smile on our faces. Everyone on this ship did everything in his or her power to make this cruise special. The service was more than I could have ever asked for on any ship. Not to mention that this is the largest ship in the world, and at the time it was the second most crowded cruise ever on a cruise ship. These two little minor details made the service seem even more unbelievable. Overall, I'd have to rate the service on this ship as the best I have encountered on any ship. Service was just as good, if not better than Holland America's. I just can't say enough about the crew on this incredible ship.
FOOD Before this cruise, I had heard many negative comments about the food on the Voyager. I can't say that I was really worried about this prior to the cruise, but those negative reviews the food had gathered certainly did linger in the back of my mind. However, throughout the week, I received one excellent meal after another, and at the conclusion of the cruise, it was obvious to me that the food I had that week on the Voyager was the best food I have encountered on any cruise. There were several options for each meal on the Voyager of the Seas. For breakfast, one could eat at the Windjammer Buffet, Island Grill, Carmen Dining Room, or Cafe Promenade. The Windjammer and Island Grill featured similar buffet lines. I opted for the Island Grill because I liked the view off the back of the ship better. The buffet lines featured a huge selection of breakfast foods. It was basically a standard cruise buffet, but I did notice that the selection was much broader than on other cruise ships. The only negative I can think of was that occasionally, the eggs here were lukewarm. I ate breakfast twice in the main dining room. Breakfast in here was nothing short of excellent. The eggs benedict I ordered was the best I have ever had on a cruise, and the portions were huge. I once asked for double eggs benedict (meaning two eggs), and the waiter brought me four! The service in the main dining room was also excellent unlike several other ships I have cruised on. If you are in a hurry, and need a quick breakfast one morning in port, Cafe Promenade is a perfect place. Every morning the Cafe boasts a continental breakfast, complete with bagels, toast, danishes, and coffee. For Lunch on Voyager of the Seas, one could eat at Wind Jammer, Island Grill, Carmen Dining Room, Johnny Rockets, or Cafe Promenade. The Windjammer Buffet was nothing spectacular, but it did have good food. Back in the Island Grill, hamburgers and hot dogs were served alongside a very large salad bar. The burgers in the Island Grill were thick and juicy. They had all the fixings like cheese, bacon, and grilled onions available to add to your burger. One thing I wish the Voyager had was a poolside Grill for burgers, because as it is, if you are by the pool, you have to venture back to the Island Grill for a burger. I also ate lunch one day in Johnny Rockets. This was a completely unique experience for a cruise ship. The diner featured a 50's decor complete with mini juke boxes at each table. The food here was free except for sodas and milkshakes. The burgers were really good, but did not stand out as much since the burgers in Island Grill were just as good. Several afternoons, there were huge lines to get into Johnny Rockets, but when we went we waited no longer than three minutes. One of the last days, I ate lunch in the Carmen Dining Room. Again, the food in here was excellent as was the service. Also available for lunch in Cafe Promenade was fresh pizza, little sandwiches, and desserts. The pizza was available virtually around the clock, and it was quite good. It was not as good as Carnival's pizza, but since they made so much of it, some was always available. This was one of my favorite places to eat lunch. I enjoyed sitting and watching people stroll down the Royal Promenade while enjoying my pizza! Right next to Cafe Promenade are two self serve ice cream machines complete with a topping bar. These machines got a lot of use during the week. Dinner on the Voyager was truly my favorite. Dinners were excellent all around. The portions were huge, and the waiter had no problem with special requests such as ordering multiple entrees. In a matter fact, I ordered two entrees pretty much every night. A few things which I enjoyed at dinner were that Caesar Salad was available every night, and sodas were free of charge during dinner. A couple of things that stood out at dinner were the lobster, filet mignon, prime rib, and the excellent service. Desserts were very imaginative and tasty. As I stated earlier, the food I encountered on Voyager of the Seas was the best I have had on any cruise!
GYM Unfortunately I did not get to use the Gym facilities as much as I would have liked to on the Voyager. However, I did get to peek in. There are dozens of Reebok machines in the gym (66 to be exact). There is also a free weights area, along with several treadmills and stairmasters. There is a huge hot tub in the middle of the gym adjacent to locker room facilities, steam room, and sauna. This is a complete gymnasium and aerobics center, and it is the largest at sea. There is a track which encircles the pool areas. Five laps around this 350 yard course is the equivalent to a mile. One thing that would have annoyed me if I ran was the fact that deck chairs sometimes obstructed the jogging course. Personally, I prefer the jogging tracks on Carnival's Fantasy and Destiny class ships since they are pretty much isolated, and padded with a true track surface instead of just paint on aluminum deck. Anyway, the gym area is yet another impressive feature on Voyager of the Seas.
ACTIVITIES There is no question that Voyager of the Seas has more activities than any other cruise ship ever made. First of all, there are the traditional cruise ship activities such as bingo, art auctions, horse racing, pool games, and many others. But unlike other ships, on Voyager there is a full sized basketball court with organized games; a nine-hole mini putt-putt golf course which is fully landscaped with greens, fairways, and sand traps; an inline skating track with padded walls; a rock climbing wall for the adventurous; an ice skating rink where you can skate in the Caribbean; Challenger's Arcade, the largest arcade afloat complete with air hockey and several huge arcade games; and even a golf simulator where you can play some of the legendary golf courses like Pebble Beach. The best part about all of this is that it is all free of charge with exception of the golf simulator. In addition to all this, there are several ping pong tables and shuffleboard courts. There are 16 Internet terminals in the beautiful, two-story Jay Pritzker Library. These computers are modern looking flat screen computers which cost $.50 per minute for Internet access, and $4.50 to send a digital postcard. With the Internet, you can access your web based e-mail very easily with the swipe of your Supercharge card. I felt this $.50 per minute was really quite reasonable, especially after hearing the prices of Internet on other ships. Movies were also played on the Voyager at various times in La Scala, or down in the screening room, a small theater on Deck 2. Overall, the amount of activities on Voyager of the Seas is unparalleled. There is truly always something happening on this ship.
ENTERTIANMENT Entertainment throughout the week was consistently good. Most of the entertainment was presented by the Cruise Director, Ken Rush. He was a very personable and friendly person. The Assistant Cruise Director Richie was absolutely hilarious. He was always making everyone laugh! The Cruise Staff was incredibly friendly; most notably Valerie Sprenger from Switzerland, who joined us for dinner on a couple of occasions. The production shows on the Voyager featured stunning acrobatic routines. There were also two comedians who were pretty good, but nothing spectacular. The Motown Singer was a great impressionist, and I even volunteered up on stage and helped him sing 'My Girl' in front of a packed house at La Scala. Ice Jammin', the Ice Show was spectacular. If there was one show you should not miss, this is it. It is unlike anything on any other ship. This show takes place five different times during the week so that everyone has a chance to see it. Midnight parades which take place along the Royal Promenade were a very festive and unique experience. There was a Welcome Aboard Parade the first night and a Mardi Gras Parade Wednesday night. Also, during the day, the Krooz Komics entertained guests along Royal Promenade with their whacky acts. Overall, I'd would have to say that the entertainment was very good, but it could be made better.
NIGHTLIFE If nightlife is your thing, then the Voyager of the Seas is your ship! This ship comes alive at night with music in all the lounges. Up top, in the Viking Crown Lounge, there is the High Notes Jazz Club which basically serves as a nightclub for older adults. Music is played till the morning hours at Pig and Whistle, the Schooner Bar, the Champagne Bar, and several other places. The Scoreboard Sports Bar is open late, showing different sporting events. On our cruise, we saw the NHL Finals, the NBA Finals, and the College World Series. Casino Royale and Spinners is open as always if you like to gamble. The focal point of the nightlife on the Voyager is down on Decks 3 and 4 in the Vault Nightclub. You can enter this club from Deck 4 with a fake hand scanner which opens a door. You then walk on a bridge over the dance floor, and down the stairs to the bar area. This place was packed every night, and usually did not shut down until 3 or 4 am. I loved this nightclub's design, and it is my favorite on any ship! Oh yeah, if you get hungry, Cafe Promenade is always open serving pizza and sandwiches! Overall, the nightlife on this ship is amazing; a person used to Carnival's nightlife would feel right at home on the Voyager!
WHO GOES? Everyone! On our cruise, there were hundreds of kids and teenagers. There were many families, single people, younger couples, honeymooners, and older couples. There were even about 55 honeymooners on our cruise! The wide age range on this ship created a very fun atmosphere. I'd say that the average age was 35-40.
EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION The embarkation procedure was very organized, very high tech, and very quick. We arrived to the Port at around 1:15 and waited in a fast moving line for no longer than ten minutes. While we were in line, the Krooz Komics entertained us to pass the time. When we got up to the counter, I was amazed that absolutely every step of the check-in process was done on a computer. I was just really impressed with how high tech everything was on this cruise; even the embarkation process. I have to say RCI had the Embarkation down perfectly. Disembarkation was even better. We woke up at around 7:00, went to go eat in the Carmen Dining Room, and as we were eating, our color was called. We were one of the last colors, and we were off the ship at 8:15. We painlessly got off the ship and got our bags off of the baggage carousel. I just felt that this was very impressive, especially since there were 3,605 passengers on board. Royal Caribbean has the embarkation and disembarkation process on the Voyager down to a science. I was very impressed.
WESTERN CARIBBEAN ITINERARY
SUNDAY, JUNE 04, 2000 -- Miami, Florida Today, as we drove down MacArthur Causeway, we saw Carnival's Paradise, followed by the massive Voyager of the Seas. The first sight of this ship is truly a sight to behold because its sheer size is just breathtaking. After boarding the ship, we got a bite to eat at Cafe Promenade, toured the ship a little, and went to muster. We then went to dinner when we set sail around 6:15. After dinner, we explored some more and eventually ended up in the Vault. Dinner: Casual
MONDAY, JUNE 05, 2000 -- At Sea Today, we got comfortable with our new home, the Voyager. I played putt putt golf, and did several other activities. It was a very relaxing day. I did notice that the pool area does not get nearly as crowded on this ship as it does on other ships. You could pretty much always get a chair. Tonight we went to the Captain's Cocktail Party on Royal Promenade, and then went to dinner. That night I was all over the place, and ended up in the Vault again. Dinner: Formal
TUESDAY, JUNE 06, 2000 -- Labadee, Haiti Today we anchored off Royal Caribbean's private peninsula of Haiti. We tendered in, and went to one of five beaches where we spent the day. This area was beautiful. The first beaches you get too get quite crowded, but if you are willing to walk for 10 minutes, the beach on the north side of Labadee is virtually empty. A bar-be-que lunch is prepared on the island. There is a Haitian market you can go to if you choose. The natives are quite pushy at the market, but it is your choice to go there, because the vendors do not leave the market area. This was a very relaxing day. We left Labadee at around 4:00, and I went to dinner. Tonight I enjoyed the Voyager's night scene in the Vault Disco. Dinner: Casual.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 07, 2000 -- Ocho Rios, Jamaica This morning, we woke up to see the beautiful port of Ocho Rios. After breakfast, we went down and did some shopping. The extent of our shopping was pretty much the three shops on the pier, but that was plenty for me! by the way, Royal Caribbean does allow you to bring bottles of alcohol back on the ship. We then went back to the ship and had lunch at Johnny Rockets. Later that afternoon, we took a cab for $22 roundtrip to Dunn's River Falls. This was a great experience. It is beautiful here. We climbed the falls very quickly, so we had plenty of time in the Jamaican market while we waited for our taxi. Entrance fees for the park were $5 per person I believe. We then went back to the ship and watched us depart during dinner at around 6:00. After the show, I am sure that I ended up in the Vault. Dinner: Smart Casual
THURSDAY, JUNE 08, 2000 -- At Sea Today we enjoyed another at sea day. I played basketball this morning, and realized that I am very bad at it. Other than that, I just took it easy and participated in an occasional activity or two. Tonight was another formal night, a stunning acrobatic show, and no doubt, The Vault. Dinner: Formal
FRIDAY, JUNE 09, 2000 -- Cozumel, Mexico This morning we woke up, and watched Carnival's Celebration dock on the next pier over. The Voyager towered above the Celebration. It was a very impressive sight to see both of them. Well, we then went down and shopped in the shops in the cruise terminal. That is plenty shopping for me! We returned to Voyager for lunch, and then headed downtown to Carlos'n Charlies. Cab fare is $5.00 each way. This is a wild and crazy bar and restaurant. If you have been there, you know what goes on, and if you haven't been there, you probably still have a pretty good idea of what goes on. We then made our way back to the ship in time for dinner and the show. Tonight, I made my stage debut in the La Scala with the Motown singer. Later on I was in, you guessed it, The Vault. Dinner: Casual
SATURDAY, JUNE 10, 2000 -- At Sea This morning we woke up and had an excellent breakfast in the Carmen Dining Room. After that, I went ice skating in Studio B. This was an experience I will never forget! Ice Skating in the Caribbean; that doesn't happen everyday! Well, after my exertions on the Ice Rink, we went back to have an excellent lunch in the Carmen Dining Room. I then took a video tour of the Voyager for friends and family back home. This took some work. It took me about 2 1/2 hours to video the whole ship! Then it was off to the last dinner. We said our good-byes to our tablemates, and then headed off to the Farewell Show. Tonight, I said good-bye to The Vault as well as the many friends I had met during the week. Dinner: casual
SUNDAY, JUNE 11, 2000 -- Miami, Florida When I woke up, we were already docked. We headed down to the Carmen Dining Room for a sit-down breakfast when our disembarkation color was called. We then got off the ship and got our bags off the carousel. Then started the long, 20 hour drive back to Houston.
ODDS & ENDS
The pool area did get crowded at times, but you could always find a chair. People over 18 years old could use the Solarium Pool which remained uncrowded all week. There was, as always, the saving of deck chairs on the pool deck.
The pool didn't seem as crowded as it has on other cruises. This may be since there is so much else to do on the Voyager besides laying by the pool.
The Voyager is an incredibly stable ship. The whole week, I never once knew we were on a ship. She is the most stable ship at sea. We very rarely felt any rolling or anything else.
This ship has a great design to it. It is amazing that I never encountered one line the whole time on this cruise despite the 3,605 passengers.
We never ate in Portofino's, but from those who did, I heard it was excellent. Also, if I could pick a night to eat there, I would do it Friday night. I would definitely eat in the Main Dining Room on Monday and Thursday night since these were the best meals in my opinion.
Thursday night is lobster night, Monday is Filet Mignon.
The La Scala Theater badly needs some sort of stairs to connect the decks. If you are on the main floor, it takes forever to get out through the two aisles when the show is over. Stairs on both sides of the stage up to the next level would help the room clear out much faster.
IN CONCLUSION... I have to say that this week on board the Voyager of the Seas was my best cruise to date. The ship and the cruise surpassed my greatest expectations in every category. I would do this cruise again in a heartbeat. We are already looking into her sister ship, the Explorer of the Seas for next June.
I highly recommend this ship to anyone; first time cruisers, or veteran cruisers. If you want the feeling of being at sea, you may not like the Voyager. There are not that many public places on the lower decks from which you can see the sea. This ship is one of a kind, and she is completely impressive in every aspect. All in all, this was virtually a perfect cruise. We will definitely sail on Royal Caribbean, and a Voyager-class ship again in the near future.
We were a group of 34 people ranging in age from 10 yrs to 74 yrs, some of us, first time cruisers and some with many cruises to our credit. We started the cruise at the Sofitel Hotel for the overnight stay on March 25th. The hotel was a bit of a disappointment, as they were performing extensive renovations both inside and outside of the building and many of the amenities were not available. Some of us ate lunch there, the lucky ones walked around the block to McDonald's. I had the french onion soup thinking as it is a French hotel it should be good ( WRONG ) it was at best mediocre. We all went elsewhere for dinner and breakfast the next day. Royal Carribean personnel were at the hotel on the morning of the 26th to assist us with our pre-boarding arrangements. We were issued our credit-boarding pass-room key cards and were told to meet in the lobby at 12 noon. We were taken by bus to the ship and proceeded to go on board via the forward gangway, we then proceded to our cabins to depositour carry-on baggage. (our cabin was 9 deck forward )
Being the exploring type, I immediately went to the Royal Promenade and walked the length of it. I was surprised for a few moments as it seemed somewhat smaller than I had expected but that feeling soon went away as I got to know it. I walked to the aft centrum and took the elevator to the 14th floor ( it should be noted only the port elevators go all the way up) and checked out the Viking Crown, It appeared that 3 weddings were going on at the time, so I did not get to see much and started my walk down. I walked around all the decks but by the time I got back to the Royal Promenade I had worked up quite a thirst, so the first visit to the Pig & Whistle was in order. This was my first real disappointment with the cruise. This is supposed to emulate an English pub. But an English pub with no seats at the bar is quite unusual, and I was immediately disenchanted with this and would find it hard to return. One surprise for me, was the availability of Bass Ale on tap and being originally from England found it quite a pleasant one. I later found that a few of the bars onboard also provided the same on tap.
I am not going to go into all the details of the cruise, but just give my own impression of the ship which I can more or less sum up in one small word "WOW" it is not everyday you see such an unbelievable work of architecture. I found the ship to be extremely clean and you could always find someone either cleaning glass or brass, in fact as you walk around you can smell the brass polish in quite a few places. The cruise we were on was the second which included free food at Johnny Rockets (they still charge for the drinks and shakes but no-one in our group complained about that). I chose a day in port to try it out, but still had to wait for 20 minutes to get in. The food was good and the staff really seemed to enjoy themselves, smiling and giving a little show out in the middle of the floor every 15 minutes or so. Everyone enjoyed the food, I am not a good judge being English, I like bland food, so I enjoy simple things. The staff of this ship is superb. I never made eye contact with any member of the staff without being given a smile and pleasant acknowledgment. I don't know where they get so many pleasant people from. I visited the Studio B for one of the ice shows and was surprised by the professionalism of not only the skaters but the cruise staff, stage staff, and video people. In addition the equipment seemed to be state of the art and really top notch. As we were leaving Studio B, one of our party was paged to the sound booth, it seems they had dropped their wallet containing $500.00 And other hard to replace items. It had been found before it was missed. We would like to thank Ms Sarah Martin for her honesty in returning it to us. If anyone sees her on a future cruise please thank her once again for us.
There were two parades during the course of the week and both were very well done, with stilt walkers, etc. everyone had a great time. Another group of people very deserving of mention were the "Krooze Komics" a quartet of graduates from Barnum & Bailey Circus, who you can always depend on for a good laugh whenever they appear, This is a real nice touch and I think will be carried on to a lot more ships and lines in the future. They often wander round the ship dressed as kids, ships painters, cleaning staff, etc, and involving everyone who will play along into really funny situations.
I did not go to many of the shows, but the ones I did attend were very good. We did have one misunderstanding with the ship, my 19 year old (who looks about 16), decided he was only responsible for bringing himself on the cruise and left everything else to his mother consequently he left his drivers license home, the ship has a policy of allowing 18-21 year old's into the nightclub to dance and drink soda, you now have to be over 21 to drink on the ship. He kept getting thrown out because he could not prove his age, perhaps, as the ship knows the ages of the teenagers they could print this data on the shipboard card so the staff can see at a glance this age,
To wrap it all up, I have to say we really had a great time and did not want to leave. I don't think it would be fair if I didn't mention the bad parts (although they were hard to find) so here they are; the ball thing in front of spinners was not working when we got on was partially fixed in Labadee but did not work properly the whole trip. The door to the vault nightclub that I was planning to make my grand entrance was broken when we joined and still broken when we left, so everyone had to use the door on 3 deck and it just was not the same. The mens room inside door 4 deck port side, just forward of the schooner bar, was broken on Monday and still broken when we left the ship. In fact, it looked as if they didn't even touch it. Once again the bar stools in the Pig & Whistle. All our party said they had a great time as did everyone else I talked to on the cruise. I am not surprised they ordered another two of them, I think this is the way of the future and other cruise lines should take a good look, as this could be real competition for them. Hope I didn't bore you too much with my ramblings.
Most all who know me know that I am partial to RCL ships! Not just because I think they are the most beautiful in their design, but because IMHO, they have the fantastic moral that is so needed on a cruise ship.
As we approached the turn from the airport bus taking us to our ship, the Voyager sat at her dock BIG and proud! Never have I experienced such amazement (well, perhaps when I saw the Monarch -the first cruise ship I had ever been on and seen up close and personal)lol.
I will start with Embarkment....simple, easy, beautifully done. The new dock is a sight to see! No complaints whatsoever. Everyone did their job and did it well....we were on the ship within 15 minutes (there were 6 of us from same family cruising together).
One thing I that did concern me before boarding was the size - although I prefer bigger ship, I was afraid there would be too much wasted walking, getting lost, etc. Not a problem at all. The ship is laid out so that it is easy to get from one spot to another and remembering waseasy after the first day. Not so on the Grand last year! Never did understand the layout of that ship. Again, this is only my opinion.
Most of the Mega ships have something for everyone to do no matter what their interest is. The Voyager just goes a bit beyond what is norm with it's ice skating rink, wall climbing and miniture golf. Although, I did not ice skate or rock climb, sure enjoyed watching others enjoying themselves! The ice show was every bit as good as the ones I have seen in Philadelphia -All Star Show. Try hard not to miss this show! You will be amazed!
The Centrum was absolutely beautiful. The aquarium a must see! I have never seen a Promenade Deck more festive, more eye appealing as that on the Voyager! At any given time you would see a magic show there, comics, stores galore, plenty to eat, sit and enjoy a drink and people watch. One sight I personally found that touched my heart was watching people stroll enjoying an old fashioned ice cream cone - jimmies and all! I am not sure why I enjoyed that so much, but I did! It perhaps brought back a memory from my youth or tugged a bit at the inexpensive things in life, yet the most enjoyable ones!
The dining rooms were the most beautiful of all the ships I have been on....Voyager was my 11th cruise. Our waiters were just wonderful and so was our wine stewart. Dining was certainly enjoyable. My family and I thought the food was excellent. We felt the variety was satisfactory considering the size of this ship. We never received a bad meal and when we asked to sample a dish, were given it with a smile. The chandelier alone was worth seeing! What a handsome sight!
We ate in Johnny Rockets once during lunch. Food was very good -waited approximately 20 minutes to be seated. It was free except for the sodas and milk shakes. Friday evening we ate in Portofino's......truly a pleasure and so delicious. Try not to miss eating there -make your reservations as soon as you board.
Entertainment was wonderful. We saw most shows. We felt they were equal to many broadway shows we have seen, just not as long.
The VAULT! Oh my - did we have fun here! Met many new friends nightly. Music was wonderful, loud but then it is a disco! Bartenders were so friendly. Noticed that several 'younger teens' made it in every night, some nights were asked to leave, other nights did not get 'caught'.
The pool deck was awesome. Always had a chair, perhaps not exactly our first choice to sit for the day, but it was our fault for not getting down there by 7:30am! Many seats were saved -with no one in sight -did not let this become an issue with us.....just sat elsewhere. We only saved when at least 1/2 of our family was there! We took turns eating breakfast. The pools were always clean and at times supervised by RCL. There were tooooo many children on the ship (it was Easter week) but still feel RCL needs to address this issue. There needs to be a limit no matter which week one cruises. Capt. Johnny did have to make an announcement to remind parents and children that there was a curfew and to keep track of their children (not his exact words but you get the point I hope).
Voyager seemed to have fun Children's Programs. My nieces, 12 and 10 decided not to get involved in them this cruise as they had met several kids on line before the cruise and swam and enjoyed things like ping-pong and basketball with them. We did, however, take the tour to see what was offered.
The Purser's desk personal were always helpful and cheerful. Our cabin stewart was wonderful. The refrigerator was always kept stocked. We did miss having the space to put our own sodas and water and beer in them....but not a big deal to us.
All in all, we LOVED the Voyager....best cruise to date and have booked on Explorer next April.
This was our second cruise with RCCL. We were thoroughly impressed by RCCL the first time aboard the Monarch that we wanted to sail them again, but this time on the Voyager! I think that it is safe to say that we will definitely sail them again. We sailed during the height of Spring Break. I was a little concerned about traveling during this time, but as a teacher, you have very little choice as to when you can travel. This was Voyager's 17th sailing and its first to sell out completely. There were 3573 passengers and another 2000 plus crew. Although there were a lot of college students and children, we rarely noticed them except when on the pool deck. Unlike other cruise reviews I've read concerning the negative behaviour of young passengers, I can honestly say that the ones on this sailing were overall, very good.
Arriving in Miami: We booked our cruise through a tour company so they arranged our flight and transfers. We got off to a bad start at the airport in Toronto at 6:45 am. There was a mini snow storm all morning and thesnow delayed us 2 hours at the gate while we waited to be assisted to the runway and then had to go through the de-icing procedures. Our three hour flight turned into 5 hours! This is the risk you take, traveling during the winter! It took another 30 minutes to fill the bus to take us to Miami. It was about a 25 minute bus ride to the pier in Miami. There were two other ships at port, Enchantment and a Carnival ship. Of course, the Voyager dwarfed the other two ships!
Embarkation: The new terminal in Miami is absolutely amazing. We arrived there around 1:00 and there was a short line that moved incredibly fast. We were amazed at how quickly we checked in and got our cruise cards. A short walk led us to the ship where the photographer was waiting. The whole procedure was quick and painless!
Cabin: First things first, check out the cabin! We booked our cruise using RUN OF SHIP 5 months prior to sailing. We got our documents 3 weeks before the cruise and found out we got a Category N cabin (inside) on deck 6, aft (6471). I was worried about getting an inside cabin because of the whole notion of claustrophobia. However, I would certainly be willing to book inside again if it meant saving a few dollars (hundreds!). The cabins in these newer, larger ships are also larger themselves. We had 3 neighbours surrounding us, and one above us. I never heard a peep from any of them. The walls are incredibly sound proof. The beds were pushed together to make a very comfortable king sized bed. The mattress and pillows were very comfy! The bathroom was huge compared to the one on the Monarch and the fixtures were really nice. The shower was really nice and big too with the curved sliding doors. It had a nice sized medicine cabinet, but no outlets. The phone has a tiny black LCD display for the time, so it would be handy to bring a clock that you can read in the dark. The closets had ample space for a week's worth of clothing and we stored all our luggage under the bed. I really liked the safe they included which is located above the TV (19 inch!). The fridge is not a fridge, but a mini bar. Our cabin steward, Esther, refused to take the contents out for us. We were able to squeeze in 2 cans of pop above the other cans in there. If you remove something, there is a sensor that automatically charges your account. We got charged $2.00 twice for something. But when we spoke to Guest Relations, they simply removed the charges. Esther and her assistant did a great job at preparing the room twice a day and included neat pillow structures for day time, and really cute towel animals at night. They look all over your cabin to try and find your sunglasses to use as props. My husband had put his away in a cabinet and they still managed to find them to use! Don't leave anything in the ice buckets for cooling because they take them away to refill and you may lose the contents. There is a hair dryer located in one of the vanity drawers. There is also a very comfortable 2 seater sofa in the cabin.
Pool deck: I feel that it is important for me to mention the pool deck on Deck 11. There are 2 pools, side by side, and 4 whirlpools. 2 of which are big enough to seat 12 or more depending on how close you like to get to one another. There is also a band stand area. The solarium has a smaller pool and a large whirlpool too. The lounge chairs in there are nicely padded. It is a lot quieter here, but also less sun. The first day at sea I went up to the pool deck at 8:00 AM and a few of the chairs were saved as people placed a towel on the chair signaling that it was theirs. I managed to find a really nice area to spend our first full day at sea. It really bothered me to see that a man had put 4 towels on the 4 chairs next to me and then disappeared for the next 3 hours. Some people decided that this was not fair and took the chairs for themselves (GOOD FOR THEM!). Needless to say, when he came back he was upset, but then again he shouldn't have left them for 3 hours unoccupied except for the towels. There was a man's sexy legs contest and the horse races started. They auctioned off the horses at an average of $775 per horse. On our second day at sea, I went up at 8:30 and I'd say that 90% of the chairs were already 'saved' by then. We were really lucky to find the chairs that we did on the upper deck (12). On the last day at sea at 8:15, we got the last 2 chairs on deck 12 facing the pool! I guess people were learning as the cruise went on about saving chairs. I'm sure these people went up at 7:00 and put towels on the chairs and then went back to bed!!!! Don't get me wrong, there are enough chairs all over the ship for everyone, but if you want one by the pool, you have to get there really early! The ship really needs deck chair monitors! Children and young adults overtook the whirlpools. I didn't even have a chance to get in there.not that I would really want to considering the number of people in there all day long!
Entertainment: La Scala theatre is certainly an amazing sight. When you are in there it is hard to believe you are on a ship. The seats are very comfortable. There is a large balcony row of seats, and the main floor of seats. The cup holders can't hold very much! Majority of the glasses do not fit in the holes as they are too small. We didn't have to go to the theater 45 minutes early to get a good seat. We walked in with 10 minutes to spare and we always managed to get a good view. The show the very first night was hilarious. The Dreamscape show was interesting, but not the best in my opinion. One night, the Knudsen Brothers sang.they are AMAZING!!!! We also saw the ice show, ICE JAMMIN', in Studio B. That was awesome. There were 4 performances for this show, 2 for main and 2 for late seating. The Studio is really small and if you want to see the show, you HAVE TO get there minimum 30-45 minutes early. It fills up really quickly. People tend to save a lot of seats too. It's amazing how much these skaters can do in such a small rink. I'll talk about the night club here too. The Vault. We visited it a couple of nights for a little bit of dancing. I found the club to be filled with very young looking people..sure didn't look 21 to me. Some of the music was OK for my taste, it varies quite a bit depending on the time you go. The casino was great too. Plenty of slots and tables. Donated quite a bit of money here during our nightly visits. There were poker and slot tournaments all week. BINGO was a blast the entire week. It got so big that they played the final jackpot games in La Scala! The jackpot grew to $15,000!!! 4 people had to share it.
Ammenities: You can never get bored on Voyager.there is so much to do, so little time! There is a mini putt course, (I forget the charge), a rock climbing wall, a very tiny inline skating rink ($6 US per hour, $3 if you bring your own skates- same charge for ice skating), full size basketball court, the Ship Shape Centre- amazing equipment, never too busy. The 2 floor library was stocked well with books. We made good use of the library for our days at sea. There were plenty of computers for Internet services. However, in my opinion, it is quite expensive (50 cents per minute). If you have children, watch out that they don't go nuts at the computers with their own charge cards!
Food/Dining: We had a nice table for 4 (our party size) in the Magic Flute dining room (highest deck dining room) overlooking the 2 other dining rooms. Apparently there was a lengthy wait list for late dinner seating and tables for 4. So we felt very fortunate to have a table for 4. We purposely chose main seating too. We were never rushed for dinner, and had plenty of time afterwards to relax. It also prevented us from snacking before dinner! Our waiter, Richard, from the UK, was great. He had a great sense of humor and kept us laughing throughout the entire cruise. Our assistant waiter, Julio, from Portugal, was still in training mode, but he tried his best the whole week and his efforts were appreciated. He learned our drinks by the third night. We felt that the food was good (not superior, but what do you expect when the galley has to prepare a 5 course meal for over 3500 people!??!?). The lobster tails weren't to die for, by any means. The escargots were really yummy. And we each ordered 3 crab cake appetizers! The portions are small, so don't be afraid to ask for a couple of helpings! When we asked Richard to bring an extra tail, he brought 4. So, he was really good about bringing extra orders for us. We ate at the Windjammer every day.good cafeteria style food. The sandwiches were really good too. We reserved a table at Portofino's AS SOON AS we got in out cabins. Didn't want to take any chances! We went Wed. night as we were told the Mardi Gras dinner selections weren't very good for that evening. This was a nice alternative to the dining room. Very intimate dinners. We also made a trip to Johnny Rocket's for a milkshake. It was the best tasting milkshake I have ever had, but we certainly paid a heavy price for it! Apparently, they STOPPED charging for the food the cruise after ours! I wish they would just make up their minds! The 24 hour ice cream bar (Sprinkles) was OK too if you like soft serve ice cream of frozen yogurt. The Cafe Promenade had some nice snacks depending on the time of day you visited it. This is where you can have pizza, little sandwiches, cakes, cookies, and coffee or tea.
Excursions/Ports: Labadee was a great private island retreat. It was our first port, so we were looking forward to a change in scenery. We tendered over to the beach at around 9:00. We walked right onto the tender, no line ups. We had our choice of beach chairs on Columbus Cove Beach. There were beach attendants everywhere willing to help you find the perfect spot. But when you're one of the first ones on the beach, it's very easy to do it yourself. There were plenty of shady spots too. RCCL provided a very nice BBQ lunch. Everything was brought over from the ship including the ice. The restroom facilities were quite clean too with showers. There are 4 main beaches to choose from and also a marked off snorkeling area. We never did make it to the marketplace. by noon, the beach area was getting quite crowded. We left at around 1:45 to avoid the crowds tendering back.
We signed up for beach horseback riding in Jamaica. A must do! Also if you have any desire to do this, sign up for it the minute you get in your cabin, using the interactive T.V. We waited until 5:00 Sun, and the morning tour was already sold out. The entire excursion was sold out by dinner time. It is a pricey excursion, but well worth every penny. Make sure you wear your bathing suit underneath your riding clothes and bring a towel!! You ride a very gentle horse down dirt path roads past sugar plantations to the beach. There is a covered area where you can relax, have a drink, and watch the others ride in the water. There are also restroom facilities and showers. The guides take you out in groups of 15 or so and you go swimming with the horses in the ocean. The horses run through the water (as you ride bareback and hold on for dear life!) and it is a real exhilarating experience. Our guide, Dale, was great and he took care of the 4 of us from the beginning. He offered our friend 2 rides in the ocean!
In Cozumel, we did our own thing. We made a bad decision to walk to the downtown shopping district. We didn't think it was far and thought the exercise might be good! Wrong! It took us 50 minutes to walk there! Needless to say, we took a cab back for a measly $5 plus tip! We had a quick lunch and took a cab to Chankanaab Marine Park, $8. The cab driver told us it was only $7.00 to get in as we pulled up, only to find out that they raised the price to $10.00 that day! There were 2 cruise ships in port that day, and I'm almost positive they raised the price just for us! I was a little upset by this. We saw the dolphins here. You can pay to go in the water with the dolphins. We just tried the snorkeling here. There were plenty of free beach chairs for you to use. No snorkel gear? No problem, you can rent it for $5. There is also a beautiful lagoon and garden with plenty of free roaming iguanas.
Disembarkation: This is always the worst part of the cruise. They force you out of the cabin at a ridiculous hour and you have to find a waiting spot somewhere on the cruise ship. It happened to be raining the day we arrived back in Miami so we had to stay inside. Luckily we found some somewhat comfortable chairs in the Royal Promenade where we waited from 8:00 - 10:30. Practically one of the last groups called off. Immediately after getting off the ship, you line up for immigration/customs. The non US citizen line was incredibly long, Retrieving luggage was easy since it came out on a carousel, versus finding luggage placed on the floor in a big room. Our flight was at 12:30, didn't leave Miami until 11:15, so we were cutting it pretty close, since we had to bus it back to Ft Lauderdale.
Overall: We thoroughly enjoyed the large cruise ship experience. Sure, the service isn't as personal, but I don't really need to be hounded by people at all hours of the day. I enjoy good food, but I don't expect it on a cruise ship this size. If I did, then I would definitely choose a smaller ship. My only negative comments about this ship are the numerous extra charges they impose for the different activities and food (Johnny Rockets), and the poor handling of deck chairs by the pool (allowing saves). I would love to try the sister ship Explorer when she goes to the eastern carribean!
Please read this review with an open mind. We are writing it from our perspective which might be quite different from yours. The very reasons that we chose to book a certain cruise line and a specific ship, might be just the reasons that you would not chose them for your booking. I will mention a few things we look for and like to do when we cruise, that will give you some idea of where we are coming from.
We are in our mid seventies. I am a retired restauranteur and have been retired since 1973. We have traveled extensively and decided to try our first cruise in July of 1996, aboard Celebrity's Zenith. This cruise experience changed our lives and has made us passionate about cruising. We have made 14 cruises in less than four years. I use the word cruise when I am writing a review but when Mary & I refer to our cruises, we refer to them as honeymoons. We do this because I can't think of a more romantic or exciting way to spend time with ones spouse than on a cruise. We enjoy spendinga lot of quality time together and we find for us that there is no better way of doing this than cruising. We will be going on our 15th honeymoon May 7, aboard the Grand Princess, to the Eastern Caribbean.
We like the newer, larger ships because there is more to see and more to do. Most of the newer ships offer the latest in design and technology and creature comforts. The overall decor and appointments of the ship go a long way in creating the atmosphere that we enjoy while cruising. We enjoy being pampered and catered too, therefore the attitude and the desire of the crew to please us, is very important. We enjoy going to an intimate lounge with good dance music, for cocktails and dancing before dinner. In the dining room we look for good quality food and pastries and efficient, friendly service, without our waiter becoming a member of our party. After dinner, we like to once again go to an intimate lounge with dance music, for after dinner drinks and dancing as we wait for show time. After the show, we go to a lounge that we can again dance before retiring for the evening. As you can tell, we enjoy dancing. We also like to get dressed up and aboard ship is one of a very few places that you can get dressed and not worry that you might be seated next to some one in dungarees. We are not very interested in games or quiz's of any type. The ports and the excursions are not important to us to us. If we go ashore, we usually go to a good hotel and pay them a small fee to use their facilities, ocean area, pool, shower and restaurant and etc. If we have a Western Itinerary, we go to the Grand Hotel in Ocho Rios and in the port of Cozumel we make sure to have lunch in Pancho's Backyard. They have a Marimba band playing on the patio, it's a delightful place. We hope knowing some of the things we like and dislike will help you make a better evaluation of our review.
I have read a number of reviews of the Voyager where the writer says the ship has been described many times, therefore I'm not going to go into the details and decor of the ship. In our opinion, whatever has been said about this magnificent ship is not enough because it is near impossible to fully describe its awesome beauty. This was our 14th cruise and in our estimation this is the most beautiful and well appointed ship we have cruised on. It is breathtaking in its design. It has to be seen to truly appreciate the exquisite detailing and workmanship that is evident throughout the vessel. I will first tell you of our embarkation and cabin, and then I will attempt to describe various areas of the ship and our overall impression.
Embarkation: We arrived at the pier at 11.30, dropped off our luggage, and I parked our car in the parking lot directly across the street from the entrance to the terminal. We went directly to the counter, (there was no one in front of us) and checked in. We waited 10 minutes and boarded the ship at 12.00 o'clock. It was the smoothest embarkation we have experienced. We were directed to our cabin, Atrium #6593.
Cabin: Atrium #6593 The Atrium cabins are one of the newer innovations by RC to increase the desirability of inside cabins. They are inside cabins with the opposite wall from the door being a bay window with a love seat, overlooking the main promenade that connects two atriums. The room was tastefully done. There were two love seats. One by the bay window and one to the right of the bed, with a small cocktail table between them. For some reason we can't figure out, when the two beds were put together, it became a king size bed. The lower corners of the bed were round in shape to give much needed room to pass by. This made the cabin appear smaller than it actually was. The closet was decent but the drawer space was very limited. The bathroom was small but adequate. Overall the cabin was comfortable and surprisingly quiet.
Our cabin attendant was very efficient and very pleasant. He often surprised us with towel sculptures which were surprisingly realistic.
The Promenade & Atriums: The promenade is absolutely beautiful. It is approximately the length of two football fields, and about 40 feet in width and is five decks high, joined by two Atriums. A stunning design innovation which I'm sure we will see more of on the newer ships. The promenade can best be described as a main boulevard in a very upbeat section of town. The boulevard is lined with gift shops, the Pig N Whistle tavern (where you can sit outside on the sidewalk and sip a stout as you watch the people pass by,) The Score Bar, (a place where you could get a drink and all the latest scores of sporting events around the world), a small casino with a giant roulette wheel, an ice cream stand that you can help yourself to a ice cream cone any time of the day or night, an all night restaurant the Cafe Promenade, that served pizza, ready made sandwiches and the best cakes, pies and pastry we have had aboard any ship. Above the various gift shops and stores were four stories of atrium cabin windows overlooking the promenade.
This promenade was joined on each end by two truly magnificent Atriums that had floating stairways that encompassed six decks. Each Atrium had four glass enclosed elevators that were very quiet and offered great views of the Promenade when they were in motion. And RC as is their custom, changed the carpet every everyday, telling what day it was. The various views that one glimpsed as they ascended the stairways and the elevators were breath taking. Many times during our cruise Mary & I would find ourselves standing in one of the stairwells remarking what an exceptional job the designers did. There wasn't a detail overlooked.
The promenade was the focal point of the ship. The first night they had a welcome aboard parade along the Promenade that was complete with dancers, singers, stilt walkers, jugglers and the Krooz comics. Both sides of the boulevard were lined with people as the parade came passing by. The captains party was also held on the promenade. Everything was done in very good taste and was truly a party. Champagne and hors d'oeuvres were being served everywhere on the boulevard. The full show orchestra was on one side of the boulevard playing as the people were walking by in their formal attire with a champagne glass in their hand. It was truly a sight to behold. Halfway down the promenade was an overhead walkway. The night of the captains party, Ken Rush, the cruise director introduced the captain and the officers and as each one was introduced they ascended the stairs and took a position on the crosswalk and then made their remarks. It was a great setting and a very exciting prelude to a wonderful evening. Without a doubt, it was the best captains party we ever attended.
They had a number of parades on the promenade. One was a Mardi Gras parade with the participants, (Girls from the shows and members of the entertainment staff and crew), in full Mardi Gras costumes, stilt walkers and etc. Mary & I watched this parade from our bay window in our atrium cabin. They also had a group called the Krooz comics, who would stroll the promenade engaging the people on the promenade in all kinds of shenanigans. They were graduates of the Barnum & Baily clown college and they did a great job. Sometimes it was a little difficult to get through the promenade because of the volume of people and all that was going on, but we didn't mind because it was such a gay and festive atmosphere.
Dining Room & Food: The dining rooms has three levels with the centerpiece being a huge crystal chandelier that is reputed to have cost a half million dollars. I don't doubt it. It is very impressive. The entire atmosphere is one of eloquence.
When we sailed aboard RC's Enchantment of the Sea last year, the food was very good and the service excellent, but we can't say that about the Voyager. The menu, the food and the service were less than mediocre, in fact, it was the poorest of any of our cruises. The Chef had a tendency to use rice with most every dish and the dishes are very inconsistent. Although the food wasn't what it should be, the pastries were the best we have ever had. The last two nights the menu was so poor it was difficult to make a selection. I finally ordered a New York Strip Steak. It was not very good. Our waiter, who knew we were formally in the restaurant business, tried to help us by telling us what not to order, but it didn't help. I told him we were disappointed in the quality of the food and he agreed and said that he gets a number of complaints. He also said that the crew haven't come together as a family and the service isn't what it should be. I can't understand why RC didn't take the top executive chef of their fleet and put him in the kitchen of this magnificent vessel. This is especially true since they own the Celebrity line which has the best cuisine of any of the cruise lines.
Cafe Promenade: This is a 24 hr a day restaurant that is located on the Promenade, that serves Pizza, ready made sandwiches and pastry. The food is excellent, the service very good, and it has a great atmosphere in a very convenient location. Make sure you look at the beautiful workmanship in the treatment of the walls and especially the ceilings. Superb design and workmanship.
Windjammer & Island Grill: This is the breakfast and lunch area. This is in the aft section of the ship and is a very beautiful dining area. It is a well appointed room and offers great views of the ocean. The food is good and tastefully presented.
Johnnie Rockets-Franchise Restaurant: We heard how great it was and we better be sure and get there early because we wouldn't be able to get a table. We made sure we were there fifteen minutes before twelve, there wasn't anyone in line. We were seated at twelve o'clock and ordered two hamburgers and two shakes.. We finished our hamburgers, which weren't that great, and paid our check. It was now 5 minutes to I o'clock. Fifty five minutes and not another person was in the restaurant. So much for this new franchising idea.
Entertainment: Maybe we expected too much. We thought the Voyager, with all the attention being paid to it as being the largest and most luxurious ship afloat, was sure to have the very best of entertainment. This wasn't the case. We were not overly impressed with either the shows or the single act performers. Many people raved about the production numbers. It is very probable that the reason we didn't particularly enjoy it was the fact it wasn't the type entertainment we enjoy.
The Ice Show: In recent years we are seeing more and more ice reviews on our TV's. When I heard there was an ice show aboard the Voyager, I said to myself, no way. We decided to go to show because of a review I read in the Wheelhouse Cruise Review, on the Internet. The writer, Ernest Roller, who has made forty cruises wrote, the ice show aboard the Voyager was the best show he has ever seen at sea. Mary & I agree with Ed Roller, this is by far the best show we have seen during our 14 cruises. From the very opening moments, it had a mystical exciting quality that made you sit on the edge of your seat and just marvel at what these talented performers could do in such a limited space. The big band accompaniment was absolutely sensational. One of the best places to sit is in the center section. It gives you the best view. Don't miss it!
Cleopatra's Needle: Is a very beautiful and elegant show lounge. It is decorated in Egyptian motif. Very authentic and very attractive. This is where the various dance bands played. Unfortunately for us, they played very little of the type music we enjoy, like the 40's and 50's music. It was only on the last two nights of our cruise that we were able to dance to our kind of music. We wonder if the younger people realize how wonderful and romantic it is to hold the one you love close to you when you dance, while listening to strains of a romantic ballad. We wish we were able to dance more.
Aquarium Bar: The thought and details that went into the construction of this lounge is mind boggling. The lounge encompass's the entire area around the stairways of the aft atrium on deck #3. It is what it's name implies, it is a true aquarium. The walls of this entire area, port and starboard, are walls of glass containing 45,000 gallons of water, (I'm pretty sure that's a proper quote), and behind the glass are a colorful array of all kinds of tropical fish. We enjoyed going there before dinner to have a cocktail while viewing the aquarium, and listening to the music of a very accomplished string trio.
Schooner Bar: Another very attractive bar area located forward of the ship, with a very fine piano player, playing and singing the songs of yesteryear. A good place to have drink while waiting for show time. The decor and appointments are superb. Unfortunately, the room never had the activity it deserved
Pool Area: We were somewhat disappointed in the pool area. It was very difficult to get a lounge chair in either the area of two main pools or the spa area. The pools and the Jacuzzi's were overflowing with people. We usually enjoy the pool area on a cruise and spend a great deal of time there, but this was not the case on the Voyager. The band platform was poorly placed. Canvas on its side restricted the view of a very wide area. There was also a needle sculpture that was misplaced and took up a great deal of the dance area.
Photo Shop: The photo shop area was the best laid out photo display area we have seen. It was altogether in one compact area. They set up photo opportunities in really great places and before the photographer took your picture he asked what deck were you on.. When you looked for your photos you went to the area that was marked with your deck number. It made it much easier to find your pictures.
Children's Play Area: We went through the entire children's play area. It is astounding what they have done for the children. Without going into details, we found it to be the largest and most remarkable array of equipment, games, videos, computers, you name it and they have it. Also included is the entire aft section of the deck which is the setting for a large children's pool with a slide which is outstanding. If you have children I would suggest you consider booking the Voyager. I think they will be thrilled.
Summation: We have very mixed feelings about the Voyager. Without a doubt it is the most beautiful ship we have ever sailed. We like so many things about the ship, but the areas that you would expect them to excel at, were far below average. Such as food and service in the dining room. I'd like to think this is going to vastly improve after the crew has some more time together, working as a team. If they do improve in those areas and if the cruise director Ken Rush would see to it that there was a lounge where one could dance to the music of the 40's and 50's, we very well might sail on it once a year. I think there are enough lounges aboard these new ships, that the entertainment director could have one lounge cater to those who like to dance to the romantic music of the 40's & 50's. An example of how this can be done is the way the Princess line schedules the music aboard the Sea Princess, and in particular the Wheelhouse Lounge. They have a terrific duo, a husband and wife team that plays in the Wheelhouse Lounge from 5:30 to 9:00, then another group, a trio from 9 o'clock on. They played a lot of requests, so everyone got to hear their favorite tunes. We went there every night before dinner for drinks and dancing and then after diner we stopped in for an after dinner drink and dancing while waiting for the show to start. The room was packed every night. A great many people are looking for this type of music on some sort of steady basis.. In fact because of the way Princess schedules their music, I researched reviews and found out that the Grand Princess also had a Wheelhouse lounge and had a duo and a trio playing as they did aboard the Sea Princess. This was one of the main reasons we booked a cruise aboard the Grand Princess for this May 7th.
We encourage everyone that has ever cruised to try the Voyager at least once. It is a totally different experience and I believe it is a preview of the cruise ships of the future.
If anyone can tell us anything about the Wheelhouse lounge on the Grand Princess, we would like to hear from you. If we can answer anyone's questions, please E-Mail us.
What can I say about VOYAGER??? The ship was incredible, in so many positive ways. I am usually not a fan of the new mega-liner, preferring the smaller more traditional ships such VICTORIA, REMBRANDT, and CARONIA. I am especially surprised at my own positive reaction to VOYAGER and Royal Caribbean.
I will talk a little about the cabins first. We booked at Category D9 and were upgraded to a C. I had a chance to look at all the cabin types with the exception of the Royal Suite. Our cabin was 277 sq. ft. with a 69 sq. ft. balcony. It was large enough for entertaining, and contained a full size couch and two large arm chairs. There was a walk-in closet and bath complete with full size tub. Amenities included a stocked fridge, safe and great TV. I am not usually a TV watcher, but VOYAGER had the best channels of any ship yet. Lot's of channels about RCI and VOYAGER in general, plus a channel looking over the bow, and one over the Promenade. The TV was interactive so room service, shore excursions, movies and stateroom account balance couldbe viewed at anytime. There were also five channels of terrific music. I loved "RCN" which was the Royal Caribbean Network. This was my first experience where the ship's staff recorded all their own radio programming, and they did a great job!
The balcony was quite large, and contained two chairs with table, plus a lounge chair with foot rest. The upper half of the of the balcony is glass (except Deck 6 cabins), so you can sit and still see the ocean. This was my first time having a balcony, and frankly I did not use it much. I probably would have been just as happy with large windows. There were too many other prime deck spots on this ship where I preferred to watch the goings on.
I had a good look around the category D cabins (standard w/balcony) and they are quite nice. They average 188 sq. ft. with a 50 sq. ft. balcony. There was also a small sitting area with couch, and two beds which can be made into a queen size. There is no tub, but the shower was innovative. Instead of the 'hugging' shower curtain, there were two curved glass doors that came out of the wall. The shower stall itself is completely round and certainly looked large enough. Inside cabins are a little smaller (with the same bathroom) and still contained a small couch. They average 160 sq. ft. in size.
My cabin location was perfect, just around the corner from the forward elevator foyer. (cabin 9548). I would certainly recommend this location, as it was very quiet. For some reason, the hallways on deck 6 were not as attractive as the other decks. I think this is because there are silver support poles down the entire hallway. The other decks do not have this. As far as the Atrium View cabins are concerned, they would not be my first preference. I really don't care to look over the Promenade as it is bright and noisy (although I heard no one complain about these cabins). I just don't think they are worth the money. I met one girl who had an outside cabin on Deck 2, and I went and had a look. I really liked it, and the fact it was so much closer to the water then Deck 9. There was still a large round window, but you certainly got more of a feeling you were on a ship with the waves so close. These outside cabins are actually priced less then the Atrium View cabins, which I think is crazy.
Now to the ship itself. She is truly awe inspiring when you see her. Check in took only five minutes at the most (in the beautiful new pier) and we were on the ship. I was concerned that only two sets of stairs and elevators would not be sufficient, but in actuality there are four. Each foyer is split to port and starboard, and depending on where your cabin is, that is the side you use most often. It works quite well. The stairs on each side of the ship are so large, that they are equivalent to ships that have a single staircase in the center of the ship. The glass elevators are smooth and quiet, and really fun to ride up and down on. A unique feature that RCI does is change the carpet everyday in the elevators. You look down and the carpet shows what day of the week it is! :) I felt this was a thoughtful touch.
The ship has been described before, so I will not go too much into the decor. Let me just say it is beautiful and very tastefully done. No signs of Carnival here. I was not sure if I would like the Royal Promenade, as I thought it would feel too much like a mall. I was wrong, and now it will be hard to cruise on a ship without one! The dining room has to be one of (if not thee) most beautiful and impressive afloat. We were on the first level at a table for eight. Service was superb and the food was above average. Everything arrived hot which is a plus in my book. Speaking of service, I was worried that such a large passenger compliment would deplete the level of service compared to smaller ships. This was not the case, and in many ways I thought the service was better then Princess and Celebrity.
During the cruise, I only left the ship once. In Labadee, Haiti. I had no interest in the other ports as I had been there many times. I always love the ship when everyone else is ashore, as you feel like the ship is "yours". I loved all the sports activities and I tried them all. There is a charge for each, but I thought it was worth it. Nothing like ice skating while sailing in the middle of the warm Caribbean! The rock climbing wall was especially challenging, and after several attempts I still only made it 3/4 of the way up! I worked out everyday and what a pleasure it was in the incredible spa. Beautiful views forward with great Euro-tech music that is hard to find in the States. The lower half includes the work out areas, Thalassotherapy pool, saunas and steam rooms. The upper half is the beauty salon and massage rooms. A spiral staircase connects the two.
Deck space is plentiful and finding a chair was never a problem. The chairs in the Solarium pool area are padded and very comfortable, but this area is usually shaded most of the day. I very much enjoy swimming, and I loved Royal Caribbean's pools. Instead of a well like pool, with a 1-2 ft drop before the water level, Royal Caribbean (at least on VOYAGER) fills the pools to overflow, and the water makes a nice cooling off area on the ledge around the pool. VOYAGER's pools are quite large for a ship, and are side by side instead of behind each other as the ship is so wide.
There were so many great areas to watch the ocean, including all the way up front on the bow (very few ships allow this), and on deck 5 outside by the dining room. This area of the deck extends beyond the hull and gives you a complete side view of the ship. The fact that it is closer to the water then the pool decks also adds to the allure.
Night time activities were a plenty. I think there was something for everyone. Jazz in the Viking Crown, disco in the two story Vault, big band on certain nights, string quartet in the Aquarium Bar, piano sing-a-long in the Schooner Bar, TV sports in Scoreboard, one man sing-a-long at the Pig and Whistle, parades down the Royal Promenade, the casino, and of course the numerous Las Vegas type shows during the cruise. The ice skating show was probably the best stage type show I have seen on a ship to date. All these activities are found in the Cruise Compass, which is the daily program. I felt VOYAGER's daily program was the best designed of any cruise line I have sailed. Besides the usual two fold program that every other ship has, there is a smaller half size insert that includes every activity and is much easier to carry around. It's also very attractive and even in color! I thought it deserved some mention.
The last day of the cruise was quite rough and windy, and I thought VOYAGER handled it quite well being so top heavy. There was lot's of pounding (these flat bottom ships!) and shuttering and wind whistling through the halls. Pools had to be emptied and show's canceled. It was the first time in a week I even felt the ship move, and I loved every minute of it. Spray several announcements and even tried to apologize for the weather (not necessary). VOYAGER has a peek-a-boo bridge where you can watch the Captain in action, and look at duplicate instruments that show location, speed and heading. I thought it was quite interesting although this information could also be found on your TV.
Disembarkation was painless and faster then any of my 40+ cruises. I was still in the shower at 7am when I heard the ship was cleared and disembarkation colors were being called. We grabbed a quick bite and were off the ship by 7:45am! Instead of walking into an uninviting shed with rows of luggage, we disembarked to what looked like a baggage claim at an airport. Our color tag was assigned to a conveyer just like the airlines. Once you collect your luggage and proceed through customs, all the airlines had counters available to directly check your luggage if desired. All in all, a very impressive and smooth operation. I wish all cruises ended so pleasantly.
From this review, I'm sure you can gather I have become quite a fan of VOYAGER. I still adore the old classic liners, but VOYAGER has made a believer of me that bigger sometimes can mean better! I don't think this would have been possible had RCI not designed a superb ship, with the proper infrastructure surrounding it.
I know some of you are wondering about the negatives. Honesty there are not too many. I am a positive person and fairly easy to please, so that may have something to do with it. The food was not gourmet, but neither is any other mass market ship. The ports were boring, but that is not why I took this cruise. There were additional charges, but no one forced you to partake in those activities. Additional schemes to produce onboard revenue were prevalent, but this is to be expected with cruise prices so low. Certainly it was not as blatant as my last Carnival cruise. All in all, the negatives were really negligible, and nothing that deterred from the overall cruise. This being said, I look forward to future cruises on VOYAGER and her future sisters. I certainly feel no ship in the seven day Caribbean market can compare!Sincerely, Ernest Roller in Atlanta, GA
My first reaction to the Voyager of the Seas when boarding was simply one of shock and displeasure. I went in by the forward atrium and walked to the centerline to see the "Royal Promenade" stretching roughly 500 feet in front of me. Brightly lit from above, the promenade is topped with three decks of bay windows lining the sides. A gray brick-like sidewalk meanders the entire length, passing two bars, a 24 hour cafe, part of the casino and a (thankfully) few shops. There are 2 bright chrome bridges, one which passengers can clamber up and watch the scene below while standing with a mannequin that is forever fascinated by the crowds. On top of the 2nd bridge was an arched neon sign saying, "Royal Promenade." I was momentarily confused- was I actually onboard a ship or I had somehow wandered ashore again? Was this the Mall of America? Was this modern society? Was this what cruising has come to? Much to my surprise, however, I came to learn that the Voyager of the Seas experience goes deeper than what may be first apparent and that this ship provides aninnovative and very exciting, energized way to travel by sea.
As everyone here knows, I am not, generally, a fan of the larger breed of mega-new builds. I dislike their whimsical and fanciful interiors, their miles of neon and the insistence on forced fun. I went onboard the Voyager of the Seas expecting to dislike it- I felt the ship would be different and innovative, for sure, but I thought I would be repulsed by the whole ship. Simply, she seemed too much to me- it was taking excess one more step too far. When I disembarked 48 hours later, however, I had come to really see the ship's appeal and even come to think that I would enjoy sailing on the ship for several days!
Quite simply, the Voyager delivers a different experience and ambiance than anything out there today. Grand Princess strikes me as simply a larger version of Dawn Princess- she is a conventional cruise ship with a few more dining and entertainment options. Also, despite her size, she strives to maintain as much as possible a small ship feel. Voyager, on the other hand, makes no pretensions about being large- she is huge and she wants everyone to know it. From the Royal Promenade to the 3 story dining room to the expansive upper deck space, the ship is full of grand sweeping vistas and cavernous spaces where you are constantly reminded how big she is.
What makes the Voyager so different? First must be the incredible variety of spaces and activities onboard. Just during the two days I was onboard, I was witness to Katarina Witt rehearsing her moves on the ice skating rink, getting a chance to see her interact and play with her fellow skaters as well as interact with the audience. I watched large crowds rock climb up the after end of the funnel and also enjoyed watching those who were watching the climbers. I saw a large and lush miniature golf course, complete with benches and statues. The full sized basketball court was constantly in use while the in line skating track was just being finished. I partook in a "New Year's Eve" celebration at midnight in the Royal Promenade, excitedly waiting around for the clock to strike with hundreds, if not thousands, of other fellow passengers.
Growing weary of the active life, I would search out private deck space-- and it was plentiful. The bow is completely open for passengers- there is a large observation deck/helicopter landing pad all the way forward where you can stand quite literally at the stem while you re-enact Titanic. There is also a covered space 30 feet aft as well as plenty of room to simply line the rails and feel the ship plowing ahead through the seas. (Be sure to turn around, however, and look at the attractive curved superstructure looming over you- a tremendous feeling of power is evident, especially at night.) I delighted in a section of the promenade that literally bulges out and you have to walk on part of the deck that hangs out over the water a good 10 feet beyond the hull-- enabling you to feel as if you are on a helicopter hovering alongside while you watch the waves crash against the hull with 11 decks of steel rising above you. The same view is found above the bridge up forward, enabling you to marvel from many different perches on just how big and amazing your ship is. This is where I would end my days, communing with the ship and the sea. There are also several layers of deck space open forward above the bridge, providing ample quiet spaces to avoid the people.
Should one ever want (or have enough time) to go inside you will find an incredible variety of spaces onboard. First is the Royal Promenade, which goes through different moods as the lights change and the day progresses. This space is truly the heart of the ship- a real Times Sq type meeting place. Like in any big city, the Royal Promenade has a unique feel at various times throughout the day- whether it be quiet in the morning or busy before dinner, this spaces comes alive with people. One felt compelled to walk through it just to see what was going on or to see who was there- it was truly a central thoroughfare for everyone onboard. Strolling along, you became part of a shipboard community that quickly developed as you stopped and talked to people enjoying a sidewalk cafe or listening to the man playing in the bar. With little projecting balconies at either end, it was delightful to simply stand and marvel at the space and the traffic. Street performers would come out and entertain at scheduled times and there was even a country music concert for 15 minutes! This space was always brimming.
Also, at either end of the Promenade was a centrum where one could take a glass elevator from below the Promenade to far above it. How wonderful it was to be above the Promenade in a downbound elevator and have the scene suddenly appear and watch the view change as you descend, finally dipping one or two decks beneath the Promenade. Also, the two story library and the business center overlooked from end the Royal Promenade through glass walls. For a space that I thought was degrading to ships, I soon learned that this space was the veritable pulse and heartbeat of the ship and the concept worked extremely well in reality.
In stunning contrast to the Promenade was the three storied dining room. With the possible exception of La Fontaine/the Odyssey on the Rembrandt, this room may very well be the most impressive room afloat in which to eat. Crowned by a magnificent and huge chandelier and flanked by window wall on either side, the room was technically three different dining rooms linked by a dramatic grand staircase (with orchestra platform/pit) at the after end. Each level has a slightly different feel- La Boheme on the top deck feels appropriately light and airy with gentle colors while the Carmen dining room on the bottom is decorated with a rich red carpet and (not quite) wooden chairs. The room has a slightly Baroque touch to it with the balcony levels undulating and curving around the chandelier. With excellent acoustics and many niches and private spots for tables, this room impresses but never dominates you- one marvels but is not intimidated. This is a very classically inspired room with wood veneer and dramatic entrances and is a definite knockout.
The Viking Crown Lounge was divided into at least 4 separate spaces onboard- a card room, a private reception room (that could be joined with the card room), the 19th hole bar and High Notes. High Notes was the largest of the sections and is the closest to what we think of a traditional Viking Crown Lounge. Tables and chairs lined the windows forward, commanding a startling view of the tiered pool deck, while the after half of the room was directed towards a stage where jazz players perform every night. Furthering the example of variety, there was the small Connoisseur Club, the ship's formal Cigar club. And this is just the beginning- I am not even mentioning the Champagne Bar, the Schooner Bar, the two story gym/spa, the kids section (as big as could possibly be wanted by any kid), Cleopatra's needle, the scary and very dark disco called the Vault, the Aquarium bar, the Portfofino restaurant, the Island Grill, the Windjammer Cafe, the Pig and Whistle, the Promenade Cafe, the Solarium, the sports bar, the casino, La Scala theatre, the Conference Center, the Peek a Boo bridge nor the wedding chapel! However, continuing to describe the simply astounding variety of spaces does not fully capture what makes Voyager so special. What truly makes her feel different is the ambiance and energy level onboard. Whether it be walking the Royal Promenade or dining in the extremely popular (and authentic looking) Johnny Rockets diner, there is always something going on. The ship simply energizes you with its amazing facilities and radical design. Royal Caribbean did not design a ship with block shapes and standard public spaces. Rather, it created a ship that is visually fascinating to look at and that allows for a constant stream of passenger flow. This is not your standard cookie cutter mold of a ship and it shows- some creative thought was actually put into her design. Except for the rare cases like the dining rooms, the decor is fairly typical RCI- however, this is a definite case of the overall effect exceeding the sum of all the parts. So much of the success of a voyage depends upon one's fellow passengers and the social atmosphere onboard. To this end Voyager's design does more to foster and create an instant community/atmosphere than any ship I've ever seen. Just how big is the ship? Well, you really have to force yourself to hit all the spots in one day. I kept thinking to myself how I had to go revisit certain areas, because despite constant walking and exploring I just hadn't made my way around to all areas more than once! I kept walking around the ship with a big smile on my face as I discovered some detail I hadn't seen before or revisited a spot that I had only been to once before. The ship feels more like a theme park with all the bustle and excitement rather than a ship, and there was a friend of mine onboard that I didn't even see during the entire cruise- I just know she was onboard because others had spoken with her!
It is also important to remember that for those who value only the ship experience, the Voyager offers many out of the way deck spaces where one might end up being the only one out on deck, simply listening to the sea while enjoying a warm Caribbean breeze. In fact, from the 'bulging promenade' to the bow, the Voyager offers some of the most unique sea perspectives around. Such is her size that she does afford spots to escape everything else, with the only reminder of being on such a huge ship is the sheer height of eye above the waterline.
Also, the ship really makes an effective use out of glass and mirrors. There are many places where you can stand in one part of the ship and look across a well or other such area and see people on the other side. Beneath the Viking Crown Lounge, for instance, is a large two deck high glass wall. One can be anywhere out on the open deck near the pool area, day or night, and see inside, watching the elevators zip up and down, spy on the people drinking in the Viking Crown Lounge or merely watch people climb the stairs. The same is true with the Royal Promenade which has many places to simply stand and look at people- this ship is a people watcher's dream and RCI should definitely get a web cam for the Royal Promenade! Windows were either huge affairs that effectively formed a wall or were gigantic Costa Style portholes that one could physically curl up in certain areas! This is not to say that I am suddenly a mega ship fan nor that I am giving up my preference for traditional, older ships. Not by any means. However, the Voyager of the Seas surprised me and quite simply excited me- it was a fun and fascinating ship to be onboard. Because of its incredible variety of spaces and for the energy and excitement level onboard, I would suggest this ship to any one over possibly any mass market ship out there currently- provided the destination is not terribly important and they are looking for a modern ship.
Quite simply, I walked away from the Voyager in awe of what I had just seen- the next major step in the development of the cruise experience. Much the way the Sovereign of the Seas marked a new area upon her 1988 debut, so too will the Voyager of the Seas mark the next area with her debut. Hopefully cruise ships won't get too much larger than Voyager, but I do think most ships can find something, however small, to learn from the Voyager of the Seas.Ben Lyons