CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews


Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Voyager of the Seas Western Caribbean Sean Ryan June 4, 2000

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 the ship 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.

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