CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews


Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Voyager of the Seas2trvl Western Caribbean January 19, 2003

The Ship

The ship is amazing. Our cabin was a D6 (balcony), which was very nice. It was similar to a balcony suite on a Silversea cruise we took, but without the huge walk-in closet and huge marble bath with a soaking tub. But I did like the way the shower in our cabin on Voyager had a rounded door instead of a shower curtain. I would have preferred to be on Deck 7 or higher, because the balcony has glass instead of metal. The location of our cabin (6678) was nice because it was on the aft part of the ship, close to everything -- dining rooms, front desk, the elevators up to the Viking Crown, Windjammer, etc.

The Service

This was the part of our trip that totally exceeded my expectations. We took a Silversea cruise in May, and they are known for their exceptional service and staff/passenger ratio of almost 1 to 1. Of course, it is a much more expensive line than RCI, and you expect that from what you pay. I can honestly say that on Voyager, the service was very close to that we received on Silversea. And it was consistent, from the time we sat down for our first drink to our last breakfast. Every staff member we came in contact with -- Virgilio in the Champagne Bar, the Scoreboard bartender, the casino bartender, the pool bartender, the Viking Crown bartender and servers, the servers in the casino, our head and assistant waiter, the front desk, our server at Johnnie Rockets, etc. -- were outstanding.

And it wasn't forced. These people were having a good time and really wanted to get to know you. The guys at the 24-hour snack bar would always see us at 3:00 in the morning when we were desperate for food, and would automatically know who wanted which kind of pizza or cookie. Our room steward saw that we ordered a bottle of wine through room service and would replenish our wineglasses until the bottle was finished. Virgilio at the Champagne Bar went out of his way to get things for us, even if he had to walk to another bar, because they didn't carry things like cranberry juice or Coke. The dealers in the casino were all very nice.

The Food

The food was good to excellent with a few exceptions. At home, we eat out two to four times a week, and at least two or three times a month in a gourmet restaurant. I wouldn't say that I had a meal on the Voyager that was absolutely gourmet, but the presentation and the service compensated for that. Most nights, the food was outstanding. The only meal I didn't care for was the first night, when we ordered steak, which was on the alternative menu. Three steaks were ordered three different ways; I ordered mine medium rare. All three came out completely overdone and tough. The seafood pasta one night was just o.k. Other than that, the filet, the lobster tails, the duck pate, shrimp and saffron rice, etc.--all of it was great. Johnnie Rockets had great burgers, fries and onion rings. The Windjammer breakfast buffet was all right -- great omelets, salmon lox, fruit, bagels and pastries, although the potatoes were too dry. We never had a chance to eat in the dining room for lunch or breakfast. The 24-hour snack bar had good sandwiches, cookies, and great pizzas (at 3:00 in the morning!). The chocolate-covered strawberries at the Champagne Bar were awesome. Desserts were generally really good. Ice cream cones were great.

The Islands

Labadee (Hispaniola) was o.k. They had a nice little setup with food, chairs, a little shopping area, volleyball, hammocks, bars, etc. When we got there, we went to the side of the island opposite of the ship. The water was very choppy and it was very windy. Later we moved to the other side, which was much better. The shops were all right, but there was nothing I wanted to buy. The people were pretty aggressive. The food set up for lunch was pretty nice...lots of flies, though.

At Jamaica, we didn't have any excursions set up. We got off the ship and walked around the main shopping area for a while. I really didn't care for this area --the bars on the windows, the poverty on the streets, the shops that didn't sell anything interesting. Then we tried to find Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, but we didn't. So we just went back to the ship and enjoyed a nice, quiet relaxing day. The island itself looked beautiful (from the ship).

Grand Cayman is a beautiful island. I'd rate it between Bermuda and Aruba. So far, in my opinion, nothing holds a candle to Bermuda, but this island, with its downtown shopping area and the kind people and cleanliness, was somewhat similar to Aruba and Bermuda. We did the Stingray City tour, of course! Very freaky, but I'm glad I did it. I just wish we had more time.

I have to give a plug for Captain Bryan's excursion. Before going, I could hardly find any feedback on his company, and I was worried. I couldn't get a booking with Captain Marvin (which is recommended a lot on this board) or Nativeway, because they were both full. I can say now that I'm so glad we ended up with Captain Bryan. We had maybe 12 people in our group, a large beautiful catamaran that you could lay out on, and plenty of water and ice. We saw the other boats -- they were mostly double-decker boats with sitting room only, filled to the max. The price we paid ($30) was worth just the ride out and back on the boat. Our tour guides were very nice and even made fun of us when we were too freaked out to get in the water. I really liked Grand Cayman, but I wish we had more time there. Because of the tenders and the long lines, we only had time to have lunch (which was pretty expensive) and do a little shopping. I wouldn't mind it if the ship skipped Jamaica and spent two days in Grand Cayman.

Cozumel turned out to be my favorite port. We went through the shops and on the other side are people trying to rent you a car or a scooter. We decided to do a scooter ($45 included gas and taxes) for two people. Someone had suggested visiting the state park ($10 per person admission). We were planning to do this, but wanted to get some riding time out of the scooters, so we drove around the island for a while. We saw lots of beautiful resorts and then we came to a sign that said 'Mr. Sancho's.' We decided to see what it was like, and that was probably the best decision we made on the whole trip. There were four or five little shops, and then you walked down to the most beautiful beachfront. The place had a wonderful bar with swings as bar stools, lots of tables and chairs right on the beach, a huge covered dining area with a grill, a little pool on the side, and bathrooms and showers. We got service immediately (margaritas, of course).

The drinks were awesome, the food was excellent, the beach was beautiful, Mexican music in the background -- it was exactly what I wanted from this stop. And the place was amazingly clean -- the bathrooms, showers, pool, beach, bar, and the kitchen. It was like we sneaked into a five-star resort. The service was also great. The merchants at the shops were very pleasant and not pushy at all. I was so impressed that I found the manager so I could compliment him on his place. We had two or three rounds of margaritas (very strong), three rounds of Mexican beer, four lunches with one appetizer, and our bill came out to $100! We were there for about five hours. I wouldn't have minded if the ship left me there for good! (http://www.mrsanchos.com)

Overall, we had a wonderful trip. The lines and crowds were not nearly as bad as I expected. In fact, there were times when there were absolutely no problems with lines, even though the ship was full to the max. (When the Nordic Empress had a problem, they had to move a large number of their passengers to our ship. Plus, there were maybe 10 weddings going on.)

Boarding the ship was a bit of a pain. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't worry about getting there early for an upgrade. I'd get there at 2:00 and walk right on. Getting off the ship, we purposely requested the last color, enjoyed a nice breakfast, lay around the pool and when our color was called, we had a very short wait.

The only complaint I had about the whole trip was the luggage situation. I know that hardly anything can be done, because they have to go through almost 10,000 pieces of luggage, but we didn't get ours until 8:30 the first night. I guess that's just the way it is on a ship with so many passengers. I think that if the cruise line didn't try to squeeze every last bit of profit out of their vacations, and left a one-day cushion in between cruises, the whole embarkation, debarkation, and luggage ordeal would be much more enjoyable.

We just started to get into cruising, but have traveled extensively to the islands, and it's nice to be able to relax and start enjoying your vacation as soon as you step off the plane. One more thing -- I had expected almost no movement on this ship, especially after sailing on two other very small ships. It must have been the weather or something, because this boat was rockin' big time! I was zigzagging thought the hallways (no, it wasn't the martinis), we could hear the hangers clanking together in the middle of the night, that big pendulum thing in the atrium was shaking like crazy.

All in all, it was a wonderful cruise, an amazing ship, some wonderful islands, and over-the-top service. I believe the service is what really made this vacation for us. So thank you to all of the wonderful people on the Voyager.

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