What can I say about VOYAGER??? The ship was incredible, in so many positive ways. I am usually not a fan of the new mega-liner, preferring the smaller more traditional ships such VICTORIA, REMBRANDT, and CARONIA. I am especially surprised at my own positive reaction to VOYAGER and Royal Caribbean.
I will talk a little about the cabins first. We booked at Category D9 and were upgraded to a C. I had a chance to look at all the cabin types with the exception of the Royal Suite. Our cabin was 277 sq. ft. with a 69 sq. ft. balcony. It was large enough for entertaining, and contained a full size couch and two large arm chairs. There was a walk-in closet and bath complete with full size tub. Amenities included a stocked fridge, safe and great TV. I am not usually a TV watcher, but VOYAGER had the best channels of any ship yet. Lot's of channels about RCI and VOYAGER in general, plus a channel looking over the bow, and one over the Promenade. The TV was interactive so room service, shore excursions, movies and stateroom account balance could be viewed at anytime. There were also five channels of terrific music. I loved "RCN" which was the Royal Caribbean Network. This was my first experience where the ship's staff recorded all their own radio programming, and they did a great job!
The balcony was quite large, and contained two chairs with table, plus a lounge chair with foot rest. The upper half of the of the balcony is glass (except Deck 6 cabins), so you can sit and still see the ocean. This was my first time having a balcony, and frankly I did not use it much. I probably would have been just as happy with large windows. There were too many other prime deck spots on this ship where I preferred to watch the goings on.
I had a good look around the category D cabins (standard w/balcony) and they are quite nice. They average 188 sq. ft. with a 50 sq. ft. balcony. There was also a small sitting area with couch, and two beds which can be made into a queen size. There is no tub, but the shower was innovative. Instead of the 'hugging' shower curtain, there were two curved glass doors that came out of the wall. The shower stall itself is completely round and certainly looked large enough. Inside cabins are a little smaller (with the same bathroom) and still contained a small couch. They average 160 sq. ft. in size.
My cabin location was perfect, just around the corner from the forward elevator foyer. (cabin 9548). I would certainly recommend this location, as it was very quiet. For some reason, the hallways on deck 6 were not as attractive as the other decks. I think this is because there are silver support poles down the entire hallway. The other decks do not have this. As far as the Atrium View cabins are concerned, they would not be my first preference. I really don't care to look over the Promenade as it is bright and noisy (although I heard no one complain about these cabins). I just don't think they are worth the money. I met one girl who had an outside cabin on Deck 2, and I went and had a look. I really liked it, and the fact it was so much closer to the water then Deck 9. There was still a large round window, but you certainly got more of a feeling you were on a ship with the waves so close. These outside cabins are actually priced less then the Atrium View cabins, which I think is crazy.
Now to the ship itself. She is truly awe inspiring when you see her. Check in took only five minutes at the most (in the beautiful new pier) and we were on the ship. I was concerned that only two sets of stairs and elevators would not be sufficient, but in actuality there are four. Each foyer is split to port and starboard, and depending on where your cabin is, that is the side you use most often. It works quite well. The stairs on each side of the ship are so large, that they are equivalent to ships that have a single staircase in the center of the ship. The glass elevators are smooth and quiet, and really fun to ride up and down on. A unique feature that RCI does is change the carpet everyday in the elevators. You look down and the carpet shows what day of the week it is! :) I felt this was a thoughtful touch.
The ship has been described before, so I will not go too much into the decor. Let me just say it is beautiful and very tastefully done. No signs of Carnival here. I was not sure if I would like the Royal Promenade, as I thought it would feel too much like a mall. I was wrong, and now it will be hard to cruise on a ship without one! The dining room has to be one of (if not thee) most beautiful and impressive afloat. We were on the first level at a table for eight. Service was superb and the food was above average. Everything arrived hot which is a plus in my book. Speaking of service, I was worried that such a large passenger compliment would deplete the level of service compared to smaller ships. This was not the case, and in many ways I thought the service was better then Princess and Celebrity.
During the cruise, I only left the ship once. In Labadee, Haiti. I had no interest in the other ports as I had been there many times. I always love the ship when everyone else is ashore, as you feel like the ship is "yours". I loved all the sports activities and I tried them all. There is a charge for each, but I thought it was worth it. Nothing like ice skating while sailing in the middle of the warm Caribbean! The rock climbing wall was especially challenging, and after several attempts I still only made it 3/4 of the way up! I worked out everyday and what a pleasure it was in the incredible spa. Beautiful views forward with great Euro-tech music that is hard to find in the States. The lower half includes the work out areas, Thalassotherapy pool, saunas and steam rooms. The upper half is the beauty salon and massage rooms. A spiral staircase connects the two.
Deck space is plentiful and finding a chair was never a problem. The chairs in the Solarium pool area are padded and very comfortable, but this area is usually shaded most of the day. I very much enjoy swimming, and I loved Royal Caribbean's pools. Instead of a well like pool, with a 1-2 ft drop before the water level, Royal Caribbean (at least on VOYAGER) fills the pools to overflow, and the water makes a nice cooling off area on the ledge around the pool. VOYAGER's pools are quite large for a ship, and are side by side instead of behind each other as the ship is so wide.
There were so many great areas to watch the ocean, including all the way up front on the bow (very few ships allow this), and on deck 5 outside by the dining room. This area of the deck extends beyond the hull and gives you a complete side view of the ship. The fact that it is closer to the water then the pool decks also adds to the allure.
Night time activities were a plenty. I think there was something for everyone. Jazz in the Viking Crown, disco in the two story Vault, big band on certain nights, string quartet in the Aquarium Bar, piano sing-a-long in the Schooner Bar, TV sports in Scoreboard, one man sing-a-long at the Pig and Whistle, parades down the Royal Promenade, the casino, and of course the numerous Las Vegas type shows during the cruise. The ice skating show was probably the best stage type show I have seen on a ship to date. All these activities are found in the Cruise Compass, which is the daily program. I felt VOYAGER's daily program was the best designed of any cruise line I have sailed. Besides the usual two fold program that every other ship has, there is a smaller half size insert that includes every activity and is much easier to carry around. It's also very attractive and even in color! I thought it deserved some mention.
The last day of the cruise was quite rough and windy, and I thought VOYAGER handled it quite well being so top heavy. There was lot's of pounding (these flat bottom ships!) and shuttering and wind whistling through the halls. Pools had to be emptied and show's canceled. It was the first time in a week I even felt the ship move, and I loved every minute of it. Spray several announcements and even tried to apologize for the weather (not necessary). VOYAGER has a peek-a-boo bridge where you can watch the Captain in action, and look at duplicate instruments that show location, speed and heading. I thought it was quite interesting although this information could also be found on your TV.
Disembarkation was painless and faster then any of my 40+ cruises. I was still in the shower at 7am when I heard the ship was cleared and disembarkation colors were being called. We grabbed a quick bite and were off the ship by 7:45am! Instead of walking into an uninviting shed with rows of luggage, we disembarked to what looked like a baggage claim at an airport. Our color tag was assigned to a conveyer just like the airlines. Once you collect your luggage and proceed through customs, all the airlines had counters available to directly check your luggage if desired. All in all, a very impressive and smooth operation. I wish all cruises ended so pleasantly.
From this review, I'm sure you can gather I have become quite a fan of VOYAGER. I still adore the old classic liners, but VOYAGER has made a believer of me that bigger sometimes can mean better! I don't think this would have been possible had RCI not designed a superb ship, with the proper infrastructure surrounding it.
I know some of you are wondering about the negatives. Honesty there are not too many. I am a positive person and fairly easy to please, so that may have something to do with it. The food was not gourmet, but neither is any other mass market ship. The ports were boring, but that is not why I took this cruise. There were additional charges, but no one forced you to partake in those activities. Additional schemes to produce onboard revenue were prevalent, but this is to be expected with cruise prices so low. Certainly it was not as blatant as my last Carnival cruise. All in all, the negatives were really negligible, and nothing that deterred from the overall cruise. This being said, I look forward to future cruises on VOYAGER and her future sisters. I certainly feel no ship in the seven day Caribbean market can compare!Sincerely, Ernest Roller in Atlanta, GA