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. This is 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.