Well, let me start off by saying, this was the best vacation I could have ever imagined. There will not be very many negatives.
We started off by flying to Miami one day early, just to make sure we got to the ship on time with no problems. We stayed at the Wyndam Summerfield Suites at the airport. This was a very nice suite hotel. Could not have asked for anything better. Thanks Mom! They picked us up at the airport for free, which was nice.
Embarkation I decided that an early trip to the ship would be best. I arranged for the ride to leave at 10:30 a.m. The guy showed up in a Lincoln Town Car. There are four of us on this trip, meaning a lot of luggage. He managed to get it all in the trunk, and then held the lid down with a bungee cord. The car looked like it was ready to take off with its nose in the air!!!
The ride to the ship was uneventful except for passing the Orange Bowl and then the place where the Miami Heat play. Of course, my husband had to have pictures of both. Then we saw her, in all her beauty, the Voyager of the Seas. I can't describe the first time I saw her. The driver slowed down on the freeway for us to take pictures. We were all so excited by then, we were ready to jump out of our skin. It had been a long 10 months waiting for this.
We got to the ship by 10:45 a.m., and had several porters ready and willing to take our luggage, for a small fee, to the ship. I handed the guy driving us a $5.00 tip plus the fare, and the guy handling the luggage another $5.00. That was just the beginning of tipping!
After taking several more pictures, we headed for check in. There were not a ton of people waiting. The cattle pen lines were not even put all the way together. There was a small line, and we joined it. We probably waited 10 minutes to get to our turn. When we got to the desk, I had all our documents out and ready. The guy took them, looked at our birth certificates and driver's license, and wanted a credit card for on board credit. I told him I would be paying cash, and he told me to see guest relations to put money on the account. No problem, and we were on our way.
I thought we were then going to get to board. I was wrong. Evidently the Coast Guard made a surprise visit and made all the crew go through safety drills. Not a bad idea, but it slowed down our fun in the sun! Anyway, we went and found a place to sit, and they gave us a piece of paper with a group number on it. We were in group number 1! In the meantime, we got to enjoy cookies, tea, and lemonade. It wasn't too long, and they called for group number 1. We got in line, and of course there were those who thought the numbers 2, 3, & 4 looked like 1's. Never fails, you have those that think the rules don't apply to them. Anyway, they were caught when they got to the front of the line, because you had to give them your numbered slip. Well, we finally got to board. I would say we were on board by 12:15 or so.
We were then free to check out the ship and find our cabins. We took the elevator to deck 8 and proceeded to go down the long hallway to the forward. We were about 6 cabins from the front. Carlton, our steward, was just finishing up with our cabin, and it looked magnificent. We dumped our bags on the couch and went out on the balcony. What a sight. We were all so giddy, and I could hear my sister and her husband next to us doing the same thing. WOW, we were finally here! The cabin itself was great. It was big enough for 2-3 comfortably. There was plenty of storage under the bed for your suitcases, and in the closet for all your hanging garments. There were plenty of hangers as well. We took enough clothes for a small army! I will not make that mistake again. We each had 3 drawers to stash our privates, and there were racks in the closet for other things.
Checking things out We were given a sheet of paper explaining that lunch would be served in the Windjammer for us early birds. Sounded good to us, so we took off exploring. We found it, tucked away on deck 11, aft. Of course, the other end of the world for us. We decided we did not need to go to the shipshape gym this week, just going to and from the cabin will burn the extra 20,000 calories we were about to consume.
Lunch was good. There was a wide variety of food. Lots of fruit, meats, and deserts. Tea, lemonade, and water were available to drink. We stayed in there for awhile talking about what to do next. The guys decided Sunday football was the priority and headed to the cabin for the games. My sister and I covered as much of the upper sports decks and pool decks as we could until it was time to return to our cabins for the Muster Drill.
Muster Drill I can't complain about this drill. First, it is designed for our safety, and two, it went very smooth. Ours was held in Cleopatra's Needle. They signaled the beginning of the drill with the alarm going off. It was loud! Definitely will get your attention. We then went down the stairs to the 5th deck to the Needle. They took roll call, and directed us to a seat. We sat there for probably 10-15 minutes, and that was that. Let the fun begin!
Rest of Day 1 We piddled around some more, and went to find our table in the dining room. We were satisfied with the location. While we were looking, we noticed a just married couple getting their pictures taken all over the dining room. She was stunning in her gown, and he was handsome in his crisp black tux. They looked so happy. Then back to the cabin to unpack.
Leaving Miami was delayed. We were not told why, but speculations were that some of the airlines were late. That was nice that we waited for those people! We actually sailed around 6:00 p.m.
Dinner that night was good. We were at a table for 8, and 6 showed up. Come to find out, the other couple was the couple we had seen taking pictures just after getting married. What a coincidence.
After dinner was the Welcome Aboard Show. It was good, and we were introduced to our Cruise Director, Jeff Martin. He has been around for quite some time, and is very funny. We will see him a lot more this week.
After the show, we went a made our first donation to the casino. You notice I said "first", because there was a lot more of that to come as well.
Anyway, that pretty much ended our first day.
FROM NOW ON, I WILL JUST HIT THE HIGHLIGHTS, AS THIS COULD DRAG ON FOREVER.
Day 2 At Sea Started off the day with Breakfast in the Windjammer. There was a good variety of fruits, breads, eggs, meats, french toast, pancakes, waffles, etc. If you could not find anything to eat, you were in the wrong place. Breakfast was great!
I then went to stand in line to get the ice skating tickets. When I got them, they did not let me pick the performance I wanted to go to, and I noticed the ones I got were for that night, during dinner. This was formal night. Not that I cared too much. My husband did not have a suit or tux, so he was not that thrilled about showing up with just shirt and tie.
Well, the rest of the morning/afternoon we spent by the pool (the Solarium adults only pool). Did a little shopping on the promenade, and ate some ice cream. We went to lunch again in the Windjammer. After lunch, my sister and I entered the slot tournament. This cost $20, and you play furiously for 5 minutes to see how many credits you rack up. In the end they take the top 10 and go to the finals. Neither one of us made it to the finals. We had fun anyway! The winner was paid $500, and the 2nd place was paid $250.
A nap was appropriate for late afternoon, and this became the custom the rest of the week.
That evening during the first seating for dinner (we were second seating), I went to the dining room to prepay some cocktails for my sister and her husband as it was their anniversary. Well the Head Waiter came to help me, and was distraught we would not be at dinner. We were in jeans ready to go to the ice show. We tried to convince him we did not have the proper attire on, and he was insistent that it did not matter, and we would be his special guests. We made no promises, except that we would be to dinner the rest of the week, and I was very excited to be going to the ice show. Needless to say, I did not get to purchase those cocktails. He was very nice to us, and we appreciated that.
The ice show was fabulous. Not to be missed. It was very professional and of good quality. I wanted so much to record it, but that was a big no- no. The rink is very small, and its amazing how good they can do their routines in such a small area. All I can say, is don't miss it! Stand in line to get those tickets. Its worth it.
After the show, we ate at Johnny Rockets. We were entertained by the staff. They were very friendly and attentive. The food was excellent, and plentiful. We splurged for milkshakes, and they were great.
After dinner at Rockets, we headed to the casino to make another donation. I actually played roulette for the first time. I only bet on red or black. Too chicken to do anything else.
I can't really remember what we did the rest of the night, but I am sure we enjoyed ourselves.
Day 3 Labadee We woke up to a beautiful day and a beautiful island. We had a full day ahead. First off, the Windjammer for breakfast. Now, we normally don't eat breakfast, especially one this big every morning. But it is so good, and has to last you through all the activities you have planned that day. That was our thinking anyway!
After breakfast we got our stuff together and the 4 of us headed for the tender. I think everybody was leaving at that time, the thing was full. On land we found a spot on the beach (Barefoot beach), and the locals moved our chairs and mats where we wanted them. We tipped them. After taking pictures from the beach of our lovely ship, we headed for the water. It was clear and beautiful. My husband laid on his floating mat (you rent these for $10/each), and I followed my sister to where she went snorkeling for shells. She found several along with a big starfish.
Now it was time for our excursion. We chose to ride the wave runners (jet ski's). Mind you, we have never set foot on one before. I was a little apprehensive. After going through all the safety videos and hands on instruction, we were even more petrified. I just knew I would be the one to fall off the thing in the middle of the ocean, and not be able to get back on. Well, the guide numbered us from 1-10, with 10 being the slowest. We chose number's 9 & 10.
Off we go. We no more get out to the cove to begin our journey, when ski number 7 lost control and he lost his wife off the back! I felt so bad for her, and then starting getting scared all over again. Well, they finally got her back on, and they took off. We took our last place positions. It was fun, but I don't think I ever went full throttle. The chasing guide told us we needed to pick up the pace, but I couldn't because the people in front of me were going too slow. You have to stay at least 100 feet behind the person in front of you. The lady in front of us was scared and kept telling her husband to slow down. I can't blame her. It wasn't him that took a drink of saltwater! Anyway, they switched us around, and they went last. We moved up a spot. We let loose then. Had a great time, and will definitely do it again! What a blast.
Went back to shore after about 50 minutes, and headed for the BBQ lunch. It was good, and then headed back for some more floating in the sun.
We stayed until 2:45, with the last tender at 3:15. Problem being, everyone else decided to leave at that time as well. We waited in line for at least 20 minutes, then got back to the ship.
Dinner was again served in the dining room, and all of our table showed this time. I finally got to meet the newlyweds. But, all of the sudden, she got sick and had to leave. He followed, and that was that. The waiter was not to pleased that they did not say anything.
That night there was an adult comic at 12:30 a.m. We went to that, and he was pretty good. Got back to our room about 1:45, and called it a night!
Labadee was a great place.
Day 4 - Jamaica We chose to eat breakfast in the dining room today. It has open seating for breakfast and lunch. I had eggs benedict (one of my favorite dishes). I have to say, it was horrible! Should have went to the Windjammer. In fact, nobody in my group thought the breakfast was good in the dining room.
After breakfast we gathered our things for the day, and headed into Jamaica. We had a dolphin/Dunn's River Falls excursion planned. First off was Dolphin Cove. We went through the "jungle" area, where we saw parrots, geckos, donkeys, turtles, snakes etc. It was neat, but all I wanted to do was go swimming with the Dolphins!
It was finally our turn. We had our lectures on how to handle them, and put on our life jackets and entered the cove. It was VERY cold. We swam out with our guide and he introduced us to Cometta. She only spoke/responded to Spanish. There was only one dolphin there that responded to English. Anyway, we watched her do her thing, then it was our turn for one on one time. We were told which commands to use, and we did it. She came to me and let me hold her, pet her, and even kiss her. She even kissed me back! The pictures they took are good, and I purchased a couple of them. It was absolutely amazing!
It seemed like our time with Cometta ended too soon. That was definitely one of the highlights of the cruise for me.
After Dolphin Cove they drove us to Dunn's River Falls. This place is absolutely beautiful! My husband and I both decided that we would not climb the falls. I am not in good enough shape to do so, but we wanted to see it from the bottom. We went down the stairs (600 ft.) to the bottom where you enter. We took several pictures, and my husband decided to climb. He found a guide, and up he started. I decided I better start back up the stairs (600 ft.). I found him along the way several times. He looked like he was enjoying himself! I met him at the top and he dried off and we were ready to go. Well, the guide came and found us wanting his tip. My husband did not have any money on him at the end to tip him, so the guy found us!!! That's OK. That's how they make their living, and he did a great job getting them to the top.
This was all great until it was time to leave. They make it so you exit through a "village" of people peddling their wares. That's also fine, except in this case they literally HARASSED you. I kid you not, it was horrible trying to get out of there. They would try to give you necklaces for free, and then get you to their booths. I just kept saying "no thank you" and kept walking. I finally told one guy that I did not have any money. He quickly moved onto someone else. What a nightmare. If there is another way out of that place, find it!
We made it back to the ship and the obligatory nap was in order. That evening we had dinner in the dining room and then headed for the show. I believe it was the Beattle Review. These guys were awesome, and found myself singing along quite often. I got the whole thing on tape and watched it again the other night. Don't miss this!
We made another trip to the casino to make another deposit. Those slots are very tight!
Day 5 - Grand Cayman Today we awoke to a much flatter country. Not any mountains to be found. When I looked over my balcony to the water below, I could not believe it. It was so beautiful. Very clear. More so than the other places we had been. I was told that was because there is not run off from the mountains. Makes sense to me. Anyway, we decided to have breakfast on the balcony. We ordered room service. To tell you the truth, it was average at best. The cereal was good, but that's about it. Next cruise we will eat only in the Windjammer for breakfast.
It was time to head for shore. We caught a tender immediately, with no waiting, except when we got on board. It seemed like an eternity for that thing to fill up enough for them to take us to shore. We booked a private tour to Stingray City, and I was afraid we would be left. After we got to shore, we quickly found our tour group, Nativeway Tours. by the way, they were very good. I recommend them highly.
We were off for Stingray City. There were about 10- 15 of us, and we got on a boat and headed for the open ocean. Several people had to sit on the front of the boat due to space limitations, my sister and husband being a couple of them. About half way there, it started raining. They stayed out there as long as they could, and then came inside with us. It was very crowded. They said it felt like needles hitting them. Anyway, we made it to Stingray City, the rain had stopped, and the water was perfect.
What a sight! There were a lot of people there, but we stayed in our own area with our own group. We were handed snorkel masks, and jumped in. There were plenty of rays to go around. They are beautiful and very graceful. I did not fear I would be stung if I watched where I was walking. The water was about 3-5 feet deep, and clear as a swimming pool. Our guide held them and then told us how to hold and feed them. I fed one time, and decided that was not for me. I did enjoy holding them though. We got lots of great pictures.
After spending about 45 minutes to an hour with the rays, we moved on to the Barrier Reef. It was very choppy to the reef, and I was sick by the time we got there. I decided to get off the boat at the reef so I would not be swaying in the boat making it worse. It was truly beautiful. I saw an eel, and that was cool. The coral and bright fish were amazing. We stayed there about 30 minutes.
This was, by far, the best excursion of the whole trip! I can't wait to do it again. We saved lots of money going with a private tour. The ship cost was $45/pp, and we paid $25/pp. We also gave a tip, which you would have on the ship tour as well. Quite a difference in cost, and more personalized as well! Nativeway is the tour group in Grand Cayman.
We went back to the ship, and took another nap!
That night we had a great dinner in the dining room with a full table (8). Great food and service to be found. The newlywed game was tonight. It was hilarious! We really wanted to be chosen to play, but I would not do what they wanted you to do to get on stage. Some ships pick you by lottery drawing, but not this one. They wanted you to "audition" by doing something crazy to get on stage. Lets just say it got very riscay. That's just not us. But, the show was awesome, and I give credit to anyone who got up there. What a show. Don't miss it!
Day 6 - Cozumel We awoke to Cozumel. To tell you the truth, I was not that enthused about this port of call. First we headed to the Windjammer for breakfast. Good choice this morning. We took our time heading into port and went to rent a jeep. We found car rental place, and they all competed for our business. Most all had the same prices, so it did not matter. We got a Geo Trakker, and headed off. We traveled around the whole island (literally). We saw the side where the surf is rough, and very beautiful. Its definitely not a place to swim. You would be drug back out to sea. We saw many roadside shops. I stopped at one and bought a couple of blankets for next to nothing. They will bargain with you.
We ended up at the San Francisco Beach. It was next to Chakannab Park. Free admission, but you pay for chair/mat/snorkeling equip. It really wasn't a bad price either. This place had a great beach, and a fresh water pool with showers, and two restaurants. They also had wave runners. We settled ourselves on the beach, and took it easy. We stayed there about 2 ½ hours and headed back to the ship. We first had to find a gas station. Good luck!!! We had to ask several times for directions to one. We finally found it and turned the Trakker back in. There were several shops around the ship, and we shopped a little there. Bought some shirts and coffee mugs.
It was time for the nap again!!! There is something about the ocean that just flat wears you out!!!
Before dinner was the comedian. He was absolutely awesome. I laughed so hard the entire time that my face hurt. I can't recall his name, but he was fabulous. That night we again ate in the dining room. And once again, the food was very good! That night, our whole table showed up in jeans. We were a very casual table. I liked that!
After dinner we strolled the decks and the promenade, took pictures and video for memories, and then, of course, headed for the casino. I played a little roulette, and came out even. The slots once again took our money. I did, however, see a man win $3,000 on Wheel of Fortune.
It was late, so off to bed we went.
Last Day at Sea This is a bittersweet day. We lounged around, played in the pool, checked the e-mail, sent some e- mail, and basically dreaded the next day!
My sister and I headed to the theater for the last day of Bingo. I bought the $35 package and began playing. On game three, the smiley face, I actually hit!!! I did not have to share with anybody, and won $301. You would have thought I had won the lottery! I was so excited. I split the money with my sister, as we always do in Bingo, and went to find the guys. We found them in the pool, and showed them the money!!! We were all happy.
That was the end of our happiness, it was time to pack. We dreaded this all week. We can't believe it over. We spend 1 ½ hours packing, and then got ready for our last dinner. We all went casual again, as did the others at our table. Its like we had this silent pact or something! Anyway, dinner was great as usual. We walked around the ship and went to the show. I can't even remember what it was. I know the Karaoke was that night, but I don't think that was the main show. Anyway, we went back to the cabin and put out our bags. We were so sad. Its hard to describe, but it really was sadness.
Debarkation Its dreadfully here. We had to be out of our cabin by 8:00 a.m. We headed for the Windjammer, and had one last great breakfast. We were able to go to any of the public areas to wait for our color. We were turquoise. I knew we would be towards the end, but I did not know we would be dead last! We waited a long time for our color. But I must say, the wait here was fine. We went to the LaScala Theater and watched ER, Friends, and other shows while we waited. It was not all that crowded. We each had our own space with no problems. I even took a little nap waiting. I remember on Carnival in 1994, we were assigned a specific place, and it happen to be in a foyer with no chairs. You either stood, or sat on the floor and waited. I don't know if its still like that, but RCI makes it as comfortable as possible for you. We did not have a plane to catch, so the wait was fine.
When our color was called, they said this is the last color, and all remaining guests should be leaving the ship at this time. We proceeded to our luggage, and had to wait in a small line. The USA line was much smaller and moved much faster than the foreign line. We went to the luggage carousel and tried to find our stuff. We found some right off, but could not find two pieces. We finally found them against the wall. There was several pieces in the middle, against the wall, or just plain sitting around with no rhyme or reason. It was luggage that people mistakenly picked up and realized it was not theirs. I'm glad they realized it before they left!!!
We got outside and quickly found a van, and off we went back to our hotel.
That was the end of our wonderful journey!!!
Quick Overview Food: good to excellent Service: excellent Entertainment: good to excellent Ports of Call: great Condition of Ship: excellent Cabin: big enough, and plenty of storage (more than enough)
We are not big drinkers, so our tab on board was not bad. We spend a total of $316.00 on our SeaPass for the week.
This ship is phenomenal. There is no way you can be board. There is so much to see and do, if you wanted to, you would not have to get off at the ports and be fine. I did not personally experience any rudeness from the crew or other passengers. There were not very many children on board, just 259. None of my party used the spa. Its just too expensive. I would rather spend my money elsewhere. I know there are parts of the ship we did not even get to see, that's how big she is!
I just can't say enough about The Voyager of the Seas. It seemed like everything was perfect. I will never forget it, and hope to go again soon. It truly beat the first cruise we took on Carnival. I'm not knocking Carnival, its just that RCI is the line for us.