Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the seas is a 138,000 tons and 1,020 feet long, traveling with a crew of 1,188. This ship can carry just under 4,000 passengers, so there can be almost 5,000 people on board. You would think with that many people you'd see lots of crowds and lines, but honestly unless there is a parade going on, that just isn't a problem. Voyager entered service in Sept. of 1999 and for almost 5 years old, the ship is in great shape, I actually tried to look for signs of neglect, but I couldn't find anything. In a few months Voyager is scheduled to go into dry dock in Nassau for some work, so I was a little worried that it may look like it needs a touch up, but it really didn't, the ship is very well maintained and kept up.
We had an aft balcony cabin up on deck 10 and I was also worried that we'd be bothered by noise from the above "Island Grill", but never heard anything, so I would definitely do that again, I usually try to have a cabin where guest cabins are above and below, but as long as you aren't above a theatre, show lounge, casino, there was no noise from there. Since we've already cruised on Explorer 2 years before this cruise, we were well knowledgeable about the lay-out of this ship. First thing we try to be able to tell if we are on the port or starboard side, once I can figure that out I'm fine..
Our Captain onboard was Erik Tengelsen and the Cruise Director was Richard Spacey. We found the staff onboard to be both professional and friendly as we've usually encountered on all our Royal Caribbean cruises, this was no exception had a good waiter and a very attentive cabin attendant.
Since this cruise was put together so a few of us "hosts" from Cruisemates could finally meet and cruise together, made this a very special and fun cruise. Most of us got down to Miami by Saturday, (cruise was on Sunday). Even though we were at a few different hotels, we had a pre-cruise party at the Marriott, which was almost right next door to the Radisson where we stayed. I always recommend getting down to the cruise port a day early if at all possible. We had a 6:15AM flight out of ORD and arrived in Miami at 10:00AM, so we had plenty of time to get to the hotel and unwind before dinner and the party... It was so nice to meet our fellow cruisers the night before the cruise, matching faces, etc. We got back to our room around 10:00 and had a good nights sleep before getting onboard. Our hotel was very close to the pier, but unfortunately we didn't get an Ocean view room, so we couldn't actually see the port of Miami, but at least we arrived by cab at the port around 11:00. They soon started a painless embarkation by that time, so within 30 minutes we were onboard and searching for our cabin.
The Windjammer cafe is on deck 11, so just up one flight of stairs for breakfast and lunch. Also the pool deck is on 11 and more deck on 12 with lounge chairs. The sports deck is one more flight up on deck 13 and the Viking crown lounge up one more on 14. The dining rooms are located on decks, 3, 4 and 5. We had a lovely group of tables together by the windows, which I loved...I was able to catch a sunset or two while stuffing my face. We actually had 3 tables of 8 in a corner of the dining room, so it was nice eating with a large group of cruisers, although we had different waiters, so we didn't think it would be wise to change tables nightly and we still ran into people we knew throughout the cruise, which makes it so much more fun and enjoyable.
The beauty salon is found on deck 12 along with the teen club, and the ship shape center is huge and on deck 11. I did stop in and took a look around, I was amazed at how many people actually do take part in working out, along with the morning joggers on deck 11. You will find all the shop onboard on deck 5. Its always a gas to walk along the Royal Promenade, which they have a few parades during the week, something to see at least once. The La Scala Theater is on deck 3 and 4 and I don't think there is a bad seat in the house, we preferred the higher level on deck 4 and always had a great view. You will also find Casino Royale on this deck. The disco named the "vault" is on deck 3....had a peek inside there during the day and it looked very high tech kind of place, bet the music sounded great.
What a surprise to see that cabin, our cabin #1388 was on deck 10, but a corner aft balcony cabin, so the actually size of the cabin was larger than the normal, plus a very large balcony too! We also got an added feature, a support pole at the foot of the bed. I was worried I'd bang into it in the middle of the night, but there was enough light coming through under the door to outline it, so that was good. We actually had a few feet of just floor space in the middle of the cabin, it was wonderful, the largest cabin I've ever had. One problem with these cabins, sometimes you have a long walk to get to a staircase or elevator, which we found on Radiance, but was not the case on Voyager, it was a walk, but we didn't have to walk from stern to middle, another nice plus on this ship.
We had a full size sofa/sleeper along with a chair and table. Since there are only 2 cabins like this on Voyager, the lay-out is a bit different than the normal size cabin in this category. The closet was next to the desk across from the normal sized bathroom, just with shower, no tub.. We both noticed the water pressure was wonderful, not the norm from some previous cruises, so that was a huge plus, and of course the glass shower door. I did notice that in the past they would leave travel size packets of lotion, those seem to have gone to the wayside, just glad I bring some any way. We had the TV and fridge as usual and plenty of drawer space, we even had two extra tables next to the couch on both sides with more drawers, so we were able to totally unpack everything. If I ever have the chance again to get one of these cabins, I certainly will. When we first booked this cruise about a year in advance I had a different cabin, someone else already had this one, and for some reason they changed cabins and were nice enough to let me know, so I grabbed it, thanks a bunch Vacation Queen!
This area was also just to my liking, top notch all the way, from food service in the dining room to our cabin attendant. Rarely had to ask for anything, and when I did, it was taken care of right away. We did have one drawback with this cruise, which had nothing to do with the cruise line, but George ended up having a scooter accident in Grand Cayman and at the time, we were not sure if we'd be staying there or he could get back onboard before our sail away at 4:00...I came back onboard and notified quest relations who in turn got me in touch with the medical facility and they totally took over and contacted the hospital in Grand Cayman and the port authority and kept me informed as to what was happening...I was happy to finally get the call that the ship would wait a little until he got to the last tender to get onboard. In the meantime, so cruisemates helped me pack in, (I swear) less than 2 minutes in case I would be getting off, so a HUGE thanks to Cher, Mark, Lynn and Ray, don't know what I would of done without you....turned out we were able to stay and finish the cruise, so I had to re-un-pack, UGH! The entire time the people that were working with me to figure out what would/could happen were wonderful, I really didn't know what exactly to do. We also had the opportunity to check out the medical facility on deck 1. Its like a mini hospital, they can do all kinds of test, x-rays and the staff there were very helpful and understanding, not what we found on the island.. All in all it turned out fine, we were not able to do all the excursions we had planned on, but still got off at all the ports and had a look around, guess its a good excuse to stop there again in the future. At this point George is doing much better, should be able to go back to work, but be careful as to what he does.
We did miss a few nightly shows, but did attend a few, most were good, some were just not to our liking, but nothing wrong with the entertainers, all the singers/dancers were wonderful, very professional and entertaining. The show NOT to miss is the ice show they have in Studio B, deck 3. Great show, although they did a competition in the middle of the show, which we didn't care for, but other than that, the show is unbelievable considering the small area they have to work in. They also hold the adult game show "The Quest" in Studio B as well, towards the end of the cruise. If you want a good laugh, don't miss this either. I still think this is one of Royal Caribbean's strong points, their entertainment, very well put together shows.
PORTS OF CALL:
This was the 5th week of Voyager's exotic Western itinerary and the first day is a sea day, so that's a great way to start a cruise, relaxed and went to the pool deck with most of the passengers. I will say, finding a lounge chair was not a major problem like it has been in the past. I think their deck space around and above the pools is better to equip all the sun worshipers like myself...unlike Radiance, by 10AM on a given sea day, its close to impossible to find a chair, forget about 2 together, this was NOT a problem on Voyager.
Our first port was Grand Cayman. We had been there on a previous land vacation years ago, so things still looks about the same here, had to tender, simply walked down and got on a tender, no long lines or waiting, I was amazed! WE had decided to meet on shore and go rent scooters... We did take off and stop in "HELL", pretty much like I remembered it, then we had a longer journey out to Rum Point...That also looked just as pretty as I remembered it...we actually made it there with no mishap. It did take quite awhile to get up there, so we almost had to turn around and head back after getting some sodas... We made it back to about the 10 mile mark, when George lost control, had trouble all day with the steering and tumbled off, so that was the end to our visit here....did make it back onboard, order room service and took it easy..
Our next port was another new one for me, Costa Maya... They had a huge dock there and a trolley running up and down to carry people, nice touch. Had the normal touristy shops at the pier, beach and a big bar and pool. This day was terribly humid and muggy, you were soaked by the time you got to the end of the pier, so all we did that day was walk around and see what they were selling, the usual t-shirts, paintings, etc. I later came back out with my camera and walked a few miles along the beach. We were supposed to go on a ship excursion here to a beautiful beach...I had talked to another passenger that did do it and was very pleased with the beach, Uvero was the name of it. Next time I hope to make it there.
We hadn't been in Cozumel in at least 10 years and were quite supervised at how much it had changed.. Almost major shopping there now, along with a Hard Rock Cafe, Senior Froggs and Carlos and Charlies all very close to on another. Later we were talking up on the pool deck and saw quite a few passengers come back from being onshore, and you pretty much knew where they had been.. We were able to find an internet cafe, price was very reasonable, $1.00 for every 15 minutes, can't beat that, so I was able to check in with the kids at home and say a brief "hi" on the Cruisemates message boards. Cartons of cigarettes were $19 here and we found some other souvenirs to bring home. We had hoped to go to Chankanaab or Paradise park and check out the beaches, but George just wasn't up to it yet, Ok, save that for the next time...
Our last stop was Belize and I've heard so much about this new port, I was really interested to check it out.. It is a long tender ride, at least 20 minutes, especially if you get a big tender boat, but much shorter with a smaller/quicker one. Once you get to the pier, they have a an area where you can purchase different kinds of foods, and drinks as well. Quite a few shops, much more than I thought they'd have, bought a t-shirt and an ashtray, reasonably priced. As you first immerge from the tender, there are various tour guides trying to get you to go with them, we thought it was a little bit much and talking to people that did some of these private tours, they all said they were well worth the money and everyone made it back onboard on time. Everyone that did the cave tubing loved it, we were also going to go do that, but that didn't happen, guess we can do that too next time.
Our last day was another "sea" day, so both sea days were nicely placed at the start and end of the cruise. Unfortunately this day was chilly/cloudy so it was too cold to be lazy at the pool, but that's where a nice balcony comes in handy. I caught up on some reading and got the packing process in gear.. WE also had another cocktail party, we unfortunately missed the first one on the second day, so we really enjoyed meeting up again with all our cruisemates. This particular group was an awesome group to cruise with, some new people for us and others that I've wanted to cruise with for years, everyone enjoyed it and one another, I'd love to meet up with everyone again for a future cruise, how about it gang??
Mike and RoboCop....weve always talked about cruising together, well we can say "we did it" and I'd do it again in a second! ML and I always want to cruise together and I love seeing Cher and Mark, Mark the funny Man! Next time, we can hopefully eat together too! We had great tablemate's, Skip and Robin and Don and Jennifer, hope you all join us again for another great cruise! Had the pleasure of meeting Boo and VQ and their gang, didn't see them too often, but could catch Boo's head occasionally when on our balconies, we too had a lot of us in the aft balcony cabins. It was also great meeting Sylvia and Betty, whom I've heard so much about, I'd love to cruise again with you guys too....hopefully sometime next year, got my fingers crossed.
Lastly the disembarkation, another sup rise when cruising with Royal Caribbean out of Miami. We had a 1:15 flight home out of Miami and according to our color luggage tags, we should of been called off the ship between 7:00 and 8:00AM...Sure enough we were off the ship before 8:00AM, picked up our luggage easily. They call your color as your luggage gets put on the belts, just like at the airport, so you don't have to look through a hangar to find your luggage, very simple and time effective. We then got a porter who took our luggage and us through Customs, had my paper and passports ready and it was a quick procedure. Since we were flying American Airlines, they now have a check-in right at the pier, so we got our boarding pass's and checked in our luggage and that was it. They even have the x-ray machines for the luggage right there at the pier, so that was a nice plus, hope to see more airlines get back to that. At that time, I also had the ticket agent see if she could get us on an earlier flight, we could of easily made a 10AM flight, we were at the airport at 8:30 and had to wait hours yet..but only could go stand-by, so we decided to just keep what we had and wait it out. At least security was quick to get through, we got something to eat and could still go out and get back in a small amount of time.
Its just amazing how a week of cruising can go by in the wink of an eye, but then I still have some wonderful memories, hopefully lots more in the future. A special thanks To Y2C (Steve) who made this cruise actually happen, was also a treat to meet his lovely wife Barb....Thanks Steve!