CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Voyager of the Seas by Marilyn Richter Western Caribbean January 13, 2002

A word of caution - this was my first cruise, and I went because it was a family event (a relative's 85th birthday). I had always thought that cruising would not be my ideal type of vacation and this cruise confirmed that belief. So my opinions may be different than most other persons who read/write these reviews. Nevertheless, I'm writing this because I found information in the member reviews on this site very helpful when I was getting ready to go on my cruise, and I hope I can similarly provide some information that others will find useful.

The best thing about the Voyager was the service. Our cabin attendant and waiter were wonderful -- gracious, friendly, extremely competent, eager to promptly accommodate any request, etc. One member of our party was very difficult in terms of her dietary demands, and our waiter, and the entire staff we dealt with in the dining room, not only showed the patience of saints in handling the situation, but turned themselves inside out to please her (they failed, but it wasn't their fault). It was a real trial, and they came through with flying colors. Almost all of the other staff we dealt with throughout the cruise were also delightful (the only exceptions were a waiter and an assistant waiter at breakfast one morning, who were quite rude).

The ship is spotless and seems perfectly maintained. Our cabin was fine -- it is ingenious how they fit all kinds of storage space in every nook and cranny. We had an outside cabin with a balcony. Unless you intend to only sleep and shower in your cabin, I'd recommend the balcony if the expense is not a problem. It is really wonderful to be able to stand or sit out on your very own balcony and watch the sea or the islands you visit. Plus, you have a window wall looking out on the sea, instead of a porthole or even a picture window.

The food was really hit-or-miss. Some of it was fine and some was not. For instance, in the breakfast and lunch buffets, there was always fresh fruit. The pineapple was always delicious - ripe and sweet, but most of the other fruit - melons, peaches especially - were not ripe. The tomatoes were not good - and we were coming from Florida, where they grow very good (and terrible) tomatoes. Try the milk shakes or malteds at Johnny Rockets if you like shakes or malteds - they are excellent. Note - you have to pay for the beverages but not the food at Johnny Rockets - shakes and malteds are I think $3.50 each. (I can't comment on the food at Johnny Rockets - didn't have any.) Based on our experience, I would not recommend Portofino's - the Italian restaurant you have to pay $20 extra pp. The shellfish was overcooked, the appetizer I had (fried cheese) was not very good - I've had much better in Italian restaurants at home. You get a better meal on a good night in the dining room than at Portofino's. Food to avoid - eggs. In the buffet all eggs, even the omelets, sit on a steam table. They don't have an omelet station anymore (apparently they used to). I figured I'd have eggs in the formal dining room, where your breakfast is presumably cooked to order. They were overcooked and rubbery there too. The available around-the-clock ice cream and cookies at the cafe on the Promenade Deck weren't very good. Avoid the steak - it's tough. Except - for the night they have filet mignon - that was very good. As were the lobster tails in the dining room (as I said, much better than Portofino's). Some of the deserts and appetizers at dinner were excellent and some were just so-so. The salads on the buffet at lunch were fine. The midnight buffet was fun and very good - and they kindly provided a plate cover if you want, so you could easily take plates of food back to your cabin. Which brings me to the mini-bar. Some earlier reviews on this site complained that there was no room in the mini-bar to put in anything else and that if you so much as touched anything in there you were charged for it. Well, they must have gotten lots of complaints because they've changed the system. We were only charged for what we used (and believe me, we were moving stuff around in there) and -- better yet -- they leave about half of it empty so you can put stuff in there -- you are free to talk food out of the dining rooms, so that was a very nice feature. The other thing that's a pain about the dining room is that there are two sittings in the evening - one at 6 and one at 8:30 -- one too early and one too late -- I would prefer to have one seating at 7 or 7:30, but I guess that is not possible on such a huge ship.

Speaking of huge ships, it is really quite well-managed. Considering how many people there are (who are mostly trying to do the same things at the same times), the lines and crowds are not at all bad (then again, I'm from New York City, so I'm used to lines and crowds). The only time it was annoying, was the pool deck on an "At Sea" day. It was really hard to find deck chairs after about 10 a.m. Also (and I realize others feel differently), there was almost-continuous LOUD music blasting there. There is another pool area right behind the main one (don't remember the name - it has a Roman villa motif) that somehow, magically, wonderfully, is quiet, you don't hear any of the music from the adjacent area. However (there are some people out there who share my preference), it is even harder to get a sunny deck chair in there than in the main pool area.

Entertainment - Again, I probably don't have the same tastes as lots of other people. The ice show is great - everyone agrees on that. GET YOUR TICKETS EARLY. They are free, but you have to get the tickets in advance - and there aren't enough for everyone on board (if the ship is full as our cruise was). I know people who couldn't see the show and that's a shame. Otherwise, the entertainment was Las Vegas-review style, with a smarmy, lounge lizard-type m.c. Lots of folks like that - and it was pretty well done for that type of show. I'd much rather see one really good singer, or a band or dancers from the islands we visited.

My opinions on the other activities are also probably not typical. I was sorry that the information provided on the islands we visited focused mostly on shopping - rather than on the culture, or politics, history, flora and fauna, etc. I would have liked someone to give tours of the ship, or lectures on navigation or the ocean or set up a telescope on the open deck at night and show people the stars, but there is very little "brain food" on this ship. I did the wine-tasting session (for $10), and the juggling class. Both cursory but fun.

As for the athletic facilites, they are extensive. There is an outside open upper-deck jogging/walking track (5 laps to the mile) which is terrific - it's great to be surrounded by the ocean while you are doing your laps, ditto for the gym - it's very well-equipped, with loads of machines, which also have an ocean view, a huge jacuzzi, steam and sauna rooms, helpful staff, fresh towels. There is a room where they hold aerobics and yoga classes (a couple each day). I took a class every day - there were two instructors - both very nice - but one quite knowledgeable and effective (I'd give her a B+) and one less so (I'd give him a C+). There is a rock climbing wall - which is fun to watch (and for the brave souls who scaled it or tried to)-I'm sure fun to climb. There's volleyball and basketball, miniature golf and some kind of regular golf with a computer simulation, scuba lessons, an in-line skating track and an ice skating rink. There was no rental charge for any of the equipment I used (even the skates). One disappointment for me - the ice skating rink was only open for passenger use on the two "At Sea" days -- the rest of the cruise it was closed (because of the ice shows they said). I seem to remember reading somewhere that you could go ice skating every day - it ain't so.

Shore Excursions - I highly recommend the river tubing trip in Jamaica - it was the highlight of the whole vacation for me. They take you way up in the hills, over roads that are unpaved for a good part of the way, and then you get in these big inner tubes and float down this beautiful river, through some rapids - under the watchful eyes and helpful hands (when needed) of the Jamaican men who accompany the group. You get to see a little of the countryside, and get a bit of a feeling for life in Jamaica. N.B. - There is another trip in Jamaica - river rafting - I didn't speak to anyone who took that one - just make sure you go on the trip you want.

Other than that, especially if you are traveling with a group, it is Much Cheaper to make an arrangement with taxi drivers and others on shore, to take you around to see and do whatever you want, than to take the ship's excursions. Plus, you can tailor your time to do exactly what you want for as long as you want. Before we went, I would have been apprehensive about doing that, but it seems that the taxi drivers, etc. are licensed and the ones we encountered on all the islands were honest and pleasant.

One final warning - the spa is outrageously overpriced. I had a pedicure - it cost $55!!! The most fahionable salons in New York City charge less. And then they have the nerve to try and push their overpriced "botanical" creams and potions on you while you are trapped there with your feet in a pan of hot water....This wonderful product, which is designed to be used with another of our wonderful products, is just what you need, for your ___ skin (fill in the blank - dry, chapped, rough, etc.) This product is a mere $47, and its indispensable partner is a mere $60. So -- get your toenails and fingernails painted, your body massaged, your pores cleansed and your hair styled before you board.

To summarize this cruise - if you love Las Vegas, being pampered, all-you-can-eat buffets, sunning, gambling, or some of these things, you'll love this ship. I imagine it is quite like most of the big cruise ships - except it's bigger and there is more of everything. If this kind of a vacation is your cup of tea, I think you'll enjoy the Voyager, because they do this style vacation very well.

Marilyn Richter

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