CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews


Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Voyager of the Seas Western Caribbean February 16, 2003

Background

This was our seventh cruise over the past 12 years, starting with Carnival's Fantasy in 1990, followed by RCCL's Song of America in 1992, Sovereign of the Seas in 1993, Legend of the Seas in 1995, and Enchantment of the Seas in 1998. In 2000, we went on Celebrity's Century.

We were traveling with eight other people, for a party of 10, with ages ranging from the early 60s to two children aged seven and three. Madeleine and I flew out of Boston on Delta Airlines via Atlanta. We stayed in downtown Miami at the Hyatt Regency. The location and the hotel itself were excellent. The hotel and the room were spotless and the staff was wonderful. It was about a 12-minute walk from the hotel to Bayside Marketplace, which we visited several times over the three days prior to the cruise.

Embarkation

My wife and I are Platinum members in Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society, which gave us the benefit of a separate processing and boarding area. We were able to board Voyager in about 20 minutes. My wife and I split from the others and stopped for a bite to eat at the cafe located at one end of the Royal Promenade. It was here that we had our first view of one of the things that make this class of ship so exciting: the Royal Promenade. Wow! We then headed to our cabin, 1612, on the port side of Deck 10.

The Cabin

We had never had a cabin with a balcony before and I thought it was time we experienced it. The cabin was by far the most spacious we ever had. My wife was pleased with everything. She was shocked at the amount of storage space, including a walk-in closet. Having read that many people leave the door open to the balcony at night, we tried it too. However, we found that it was much too humid and the further south we cruised, much too warm.

Our cabin steward, Arthur, was from the Philippines. He was ideal; never "in your face" but always there when you needed something. From the first time we met Arthur, which was about 15 minutes after arriving in our cabin, he learned our first names and used them whenever we met. That may not appeal to some, but to us it was an example of his desire to provide personal and memorable service.

The Ship

Even though this was our seventh cruise, my wife was hesitant to book Voyager of the Seas because of the size of the ship. She feared she would never find her way around this monster. To her delight, she did not get lost once. By remembering that he food options were in the stern and the theater was in the bow, she could orient herself all the time. Also, she could smell the coffee served at the Cafe Promenade and that would provide a trail to follow.

Once on board, we both quickly realized that this ship was immense but very easy to navigate. As many have mentioned, you just don't feel crowded on the ship. The designers provided for the easy flow of the guests throughout the ship and provide many places for small groups of passengers to gather. The only times we encountered crowds were on the Royal Promenade in the evening and after several shows in the "La Scala" theater.

The three-level dining room, in my opinion, equals that of Celebrity's Century in splendor. I missed the Century's view out the stern windows, but the overall layout and design were equal to the Century. Our table was in the lower level, the "Carmen" dining room. It was near a large round window on the starboard side that gave us a nice view of sunset each evening.

Over the 12 years that we have cruised, we have seen an increase in space provided for activities for the younger passengers. Well, this ship has wonderful facilities for the young people along with a wonderful staff that provided the kids with a great variety of activities the whole week. On our sailing, there were more than 500 kids. And as far as we could tell, all of them were well-behaved. The two children in our group did not want to leave the ship at the end of the cruise because of the activities they experienced and the other kids they met through "Adventure Ocean". We would strongly recommend this ship, if you want to bring children on a cruise.

Food and Beverages

We had dinner in the dining room each night, save for one night we went to the Portofino restaurant. The service provided by our waiter, Salim (from Turkey), was efficient and of high quality. This was bolstered by Marie (from the Philippines), the assistant waiter, who was especially good with the young people at the table. The headwaiter, a young lady from Sweden, was very attentive to our needs, again with the children, and assisted Salim and Marie on several occasions. I think the policy of doing away with wine stewards and relying on the assistant waiter to provide the entire beverage service (including wine) may overburden the assistant waiters. Fortunately, the headwaiter was there to help.

My only complaint about the food was that the filet mignon I had early in the cruise that was almost tasteless. It probably sat on a steam table for an hour before reaching me. On Thursday evening, we went to Portofino for dinner. The setting was elegant, the service was superb, and the food was excellent. I tried the filet mignon and this time it was perfection.

We only ate breakfast in the dining room on one occasion and lunch on two occasions. The rest of the time we used the Windjammer or the Island Grill for breakfast and lunch. Madeleine preferred the Island Grill; it was less crowded and you could get individually prepared omelets in the morning, which were very good. One day we visited Johnny Rocket's and had their famous burgers and shakes. With all the dining venues on the ship, you could almost eat each meal in a different place.

In closing, the Cafe Promenade is a great place to replenish if you want some very good pizza, sandwiches, or cookies along with coffee, ice tea, and water. And it was open almost 24/7.

Entertainment and Excursions

In my experience, RCCL has always had good entertainment, but this time we were disappointed. We thought the RCCL Singers and Dancers were excellent, along with the entire cast of "Ice Jammin'", the ice show. But we were disappointed was in the quality of the "outside" entertainers. Of course, personal preference plays a big role in such judgments. To others, they may have been wonderful.

Madeleine does not care for excursions. She enjoys the days in port when most everyone leaves the ship and allows her to have "her pool" to herself. I joined two other members of our group in Ocho Rios for an excursion to Brimmer Hall Plantation and Dunn's River Falls. I thought it was very good trip, especially seeing the restored main home on the plantation.

Madeleine did venture off the ship with me to walk around Georgetown, Grand Cayman, and to the shops at the end of the dock in Cozumel. Both walks were enjoyable.

Disembarkation

For everyone, I'm sure the worst part of the cruise is going home. This can be made even worse by a slow disembarkation process. But not on this cruise. Arthur, our cabin steward, asked us about mid-week what our arrangements were on disembarkation day. We told him that we were not in a hurry to leave as we were staying overnight in Miami and flying to Boston on Monday. We had a leisurely breakfast in the Windjammer and cleared out of our cabin around 8:30 a.m. We went down to the two-level library to wait for our tag color to be called. We heard the announcement around 9:30, and we were back at the Hyatt by 10:30! That was as smooth and efficient as we have ever experienced.

Overall

Madeleine and I both had a wonderful time. We would recommend this ship and itinerary without hesitation. This was made possible by the crew and the beautiful ship we sailed on and the great people in our group. Was it worth it? Absolutely, every penny. Would we do it again? I can be ready in 15 minutes!

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