When I look back and think of the Voyager of the Seas, certain words come to mind. Words like 'unbelievable', 'amazing', 'awesome', and 'incredible' are just a few. This ship is truly a sight to behold, and I was in awe of this ship from the minute I pulled up to the pier in Miami until I got off the following Sunday. I really feel that words cannot describe this ship, but I am going to try my best!
There are so many public rooms on the Voyager, really too many to name. The heart of the ship was the Royal Promenade. This space is unlike anything ever put on a cruise ship before, and I feel that it serves its purpose beautifully. There are several bars, a small casino, a cafe, several shops, and the Purser's Desk on the Royal Promenade. On either end of this enormous space is a centrum. The forward Centrum rises from Deck 2 all the way up to Deck 12. The Midship Centrum goes from Deck 2 up to Deck 14. Each Centrum is capped by a large glass wall which allows natural daylight to pour down during the day. The Voyager is designed so that virtually every public space is easily accessible from either Centrum, or the Royal Promenade. The three main dining rooms, Carmen, La Boheme, and Magic Flute are just aft of the midship Centrum, as are the buffet restaurants Windjammer and the Island Grille. Major entertainment areas such as the La Scala Theater, Casino Royale, and Studio B Center Ice are also right off the two Centrums.
After an initial walkthrough of the ship, I found it to be very easy to navigate. One of my favorite features of Voyager of the Seas is the wrap around Promenade Deck on Deck 4. You can walk completely around the ship, from the very bow to stern. I just found this to be very enjoyable.
Up top, on deck 11, is the Solarium Pool. This pool is decorated with a Greek theme, complete with columns and statues of Greek Gods (I think that's what they were.) This area was very nice and quiet, and it had an oversized hot tub which holds up to 16 people. Also on this deck are the two main pools, along with several hot tubs. This main pool area is quite large. There are two pools, side by side, with four hot tubs. Two are quite large, while the other two are normal sized. In between the two pools is a skylight which goes all the way down to Royal Promenade 6 decks below. This pool area did get crowded later in the afternoon, but it was very rarely a problem to find a chair. Further aft on this deck is Portofino's, Windjammer Cafe, and the Island Grill. Up a deck, on Deck 12 is the Adventure Ocean Kid and Teen area. This area featured a huge arcade, complete with air hockey and dozens of video games. Adjacent to the arcade is Johnny Rocket's. Forward on this deck is the Shipshape Gym.
Up a deck, on Deck 13, is where most of the sports activities are located. Here, there is the rock climbing wall, a full sized basketball court, an inline skating track, a nine hole putt-putt golf course, and several golf simulators. Up on Deck 14, there is the Viking Crown Lounge. On the Voyager, this Lounge is divided up into five areas: The Seven Hearts Card Room, the Cloud Nine Lounge, High Notes Jazz Club, the Crow's Nest Observation Lounge, and the 19th Hole Bar.
Finally, up on Deck 15 is the Skylight Wedding Chapel. This ship is so superbly designed, that one never feels the crowds at all. On our sailing, we had 3,605 passengers, and 1,225 crew. Never during the entire cruise did I feel crowded, or wait in a line. This was very impressive to me, but not suprising since there are just so many things to do on Voyager of the Seas.
CABINSWe were in cabin number 9230, a category D9 balcony stateroom on the starboard side of Deck 9 forward. The room was incredibly spacious. There was a full sized sofa with a coffee table, as well as two single beds which converted to a queen. A sliding glass door led to a very good sized balcony. The balconies on Voyager of the Seas were incredibly private. There are two chairs and a small table out on the balcony, and there was plenty of room for four people out there. The bathroom was very nice since there is a sliding glass door on the shower instead of an annoying curtain. Inside the cabin, there is a 19 inch TV, electronic safe, a stocked mini bar, and plenty of drawer space for two. We actually had four people in our cabin, so we were a little cramped for drawer and closet space, but we managed to survive. The television is fully interactive. On this TV, you can book shore excursions, order room service, order movies, and even fill out on board surveys. I was quite impressed with this cabin, and I did not find it to be very small like many have said of typical RCI cabins.
SERVICEAll I can say, is that the Voyager boasts one of the finest crews afloat. Each and every one of them should be commended for the work they have done. Every crew member I encountered during the week greeted me with a smile. A cruise line cannot control the attitudes of their employees, so I found it amazing how nice and cordial everyone was on the Voyager. This staff is definitely the friendliest, and most personable group of people that I have ever encountered on a cruise. The service in all areas was excellent.
My room steward, Earl was awesome. He always kept the room clean, kept drinks on ice, and greeted us every morning with a smile and a 'hello'. Our waiter, Pramode was excellent. He did everything we asked of him, and more. He had no problem taking special orders, and he took them with a smile. Our assistant waiter, Koray quietly did an excellent job. He knew what everyone wanted to drink by the second night. Our bar waiter, Phyllis was one of the friendliest people I have ever met. His cheerful smile and laughter always put a smile on our faces.
Everyone on this ship did everything in his or her power to make this cruise special. The service was more than I could have ever asked for on any ship. Not to mention that this is the largest ship in the world, and at the time it was the second most crowded cruise ever on a cruise ship. These two little minor details made the service seem even more unbelievable. Overall, I'd have to rate the service on this ship as the best I have encountered on any ship. Service was just as good, if not better than Holland America's. I just can't say enough about the crew on this incredible ship.
FOODBefore this cruise, I had heard many negative comments about the food on the Voyager. I can't say that I was really worried about this prior to the cruise, but those negative reviews of the food did linger in the back of my mind. However, throughout the week, I consumed one excellent meal after another, and at the conclusion of the cruise, it was obvious to me that the food I had that week on the Voyager was the best food I have encountered on any cruise. There were several options for each meal.
For breakfast, one could eat at the Windjammer Buffet, Island Grill, Carmen Dining Room, or Cafe Promenade. The Windjammer and Island Grill featured similar buffet lines. I opted for the Island Grill because I liked the view off the back of the ship better. The buffet lines featured a huge selection of breakfast foods. It was basically a standard cruise buffet, but I did notice that the selection was much broader than on other cruise ships. The only negative I can think of was that occasionally the eggs here were lukewarm. I ate breakfast twice in the main dining room. Breakfast in here was nothing short of excellent. The eggs benedict I ordered was the best I have ever had on a cruise, and the portions were huge. I once asked for double eggs benedict (meaning two eggs), and the waiter brought me four! The service in the main dining room was also excellent unlike several other ships I have cruised on.
If you are in a hurry to get ashore and need a quick breakfast, Cafe Promenade is a perfect place. Every morning the Cafe boasts a continental breakfast, complete with bagels, toast, danishes, and coffee. For Lunch, one could eat at WindJammer Cafe, Island Grill, Carmen Dining Room, Johnny Rockets, or Cafe Promenade. The Windjammer Buffet was nothing spectacular, but it did have good food. Back in the Island Grill, hamburgers and hot dogs were served alongside a very large salad bar. The burgers in the Island Grill were thick and juicy. They had all the fixings like cheese, bacon, and grilled onions available to add to your burger. One thing I wish the Voyager had was a poolside Grill for burgers, because as it is, if you are by the pool, you have to venture back to the Island Grill for a burger.
I also ate lunch one day in Johnny Rockets. This was a completely unique experience for a cruise ship. The diner featured a 50's decor complete with mini juke boxes at each table. The food here was free except for sodas and milkshakes. The burgers were really good, but did not stand out as much since the burgers in Island Grill were just as good. Several afternoons, there were huge lines to get into Johnny Rockets, but when we went we waited no longer than three minutes.
One of the last days, I ate lunch in the Carmen Dining Room. Again, the food in here was excellent as was the service. Also available for lunch in Cafe Promenade were fresh pizza, little sandwiches, and desserts. The pizza was available virtually around the clock, and it was quite good. It was not as good as Carnival's pizza, but since they made so much of it, some was always available. This was one of my favorite places to eat lunch. I enjoyed sitting and watching people stroll down the Royal Promenade while enjoying my pizza! Right next to Cafe Promenade are two self serve ice cream machines complete with a topping bar. These machines got a lot of use during the week.
Dinner on the Voyager was truly my favorite. Dinners were excellent all around. The portions were huge, and the waiter had no problem with special requests such as ordering multiple entrees. As a matter fact, I ordered two entrees pretty much every night. A few things which I enjoyed at dinner were the availability of Caesar Salad every night, and sodas being free of charge during dinner. A couple of things that stood out at dinner were the lobster, filet mignon, prime rib, and the excellent service. Desserts were very imaginative and tasty. As I stated earlier, the food I encountered on Voyager of the Seas was the best I have had on any cruise!
GYMUnfortunately I did not get to use the Gym facilities as much as I would have liked to. However, I did get to peek in. There are dozens of Reebok machines in the gym (66 to be exact). There is also a free weights area, along with several treadmills and stairmasters. There is a huge hot tub in the middle of the gym adjacent to locker room facilities, steam room, and sauna. This is a complete gymnasium and aerobics center, and it is the largest at sea. There is a track which encircles the pool area. Five laps around this 350 yard course is the equivalent to a mile. One thing that would have annoyed me if I ran was the fact that deck chairs sometimes obstructed the jogging course. Personally, I prefer the jogging tracks on Carnival's Fantasy and Destiny class ships since they are pretty much isolated and padded with a true track surface instead of just paint on aluminum deck. Anyway, the gym area is yet another impressive feature on Voyager of the Seas.
ACTIVITIESThere is no question that Voyager of the Seas has more activities than any other cruise ship ever made. First of all, there are the traditional cruise ship activities such as bingo, art auctions, horse racing, pool games, and many others. But unlike other ships, on Voyager there is a full sized basketball court with organized games; a nine-hole mini putt-putt golf course which is fully landscaped with greens, fairways, and sand traps; an inline skating track with padded walls; a rock climbing wall for the adventurous; an ice skating rink where you can skate in the Caribbean; Challenger's Arcade, the largest arcade afloat complete with air hockey and several huge arcade games; and even a golf simulator where you can play some of the legendary golf courses like Pebble Beach. The best part about all of this is that it is all free of charge with exception of the golf simulator. In addition to all this, there are several ping pong tables and shuffleboard courts.
There are 16 Internet terminals in the beautiful, two-story Jay Pritzker Library. These computers are modern-looking flat screen computers which cost $.50 per minute for Internet access, and $4.50 to send a digital postcard. With the Internet, you can access your web based e-mail very easily with the swipe of your Supercharge card. I felt this $.50 per minute was really quite reasonable, especially after hearing the prices of Internet on other ships.
Movies were also played on the Voyager at various times in La Scala, or down in the screening room, a small theater on Deck 2. Overall, the amount of activities on Voyager of the Seas is unparalleled. There is truly always something happening on this ship.
ENTERTAINMENTEntertainment throughout the week was consistently good. Most of the entertainment was introduced by the Cruise Director, Ken Rush. He was a very personable and friendly person. The Assistant Cruise Director, Richie, was absolutely hilarious. He was always making everyone laugh! The Cruise Staff was incredibly friendly, most notably Valerie Sprenger from Switzerland, who joined us for dinner on a couple of occasions.
The production shows on the Voyager featured stunning acrobatic routines. There were also two comedians who were pretty good, but nothing spectacular. The Motown Singer was a great impressionist, and I even volunteered to go up on stage and help him sing 'My Girl' in front of a packed house at La Scala. Ice Jammin', the Ice Show was spectacular. If there was one show you should not miss, this is it. It is unlike anything on any other ship. This show takes place five different times during the week so that everyone has a chance to see it.
Midnight parades which take place along the Royal Promenade were a very festive and unique experience. There was a Welcome Aboard Parade the first night and a Mardi Gras Parade Wednesday night. Also, during the day, the Krooz Komics entertained guests along Royal Promenade with their whacky acts. Overall, I'd would have to say that the entertainment was very good, but it could be even better.
NIGHTLIFEIf nightlife is your thing, then the Voyager of the Seas is your ship! This ship comes alive at night with music in all the lounges. Up top, in the Viking Crown Lounge, there is the High Notes Jazz Club which basically serves as a nightclub for older adults. Music is played till the morning hours at Pig and Whistle, the Schooner Bar, the Champagne Bar, and several other places. The Scoreboard Sports Bar is open late, showing different sporting events. On our cruise, we saw the NHL Finals, the NBA Finals, and the College World Series. Casino Royale and Spinners is open as always if you like to gamble. The focal point of the nightlife on the Voyager is down on Decks 3 and 4 in the Vault Nightclub. You can enter this club from Deck 4 with a fake hand scanner which opens a door. You then walk on a bridge over the dance floor, and down the stairs to the bar area. This place was packed every night, and usually did not shut down until 3 or 4 am. I loved this nightclub's design, and it is my favorite on any ship! And, if you get hungry, Cafe Promenade is always open serving pizza and sandwiches! Overall, the nightlife on this ship is amazing; a person used to Carnival's nightlife would feel right at home on the Voyager!
WHO GOES?Everyone! On our cruise, there were hundreds of kids and teenagers. There were many families, single people, younger couples and older couples. There were even about 55 honeymooners on our cruise! The wide age range on this ship created a very fun atmosphere.
EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATIONThe embarkation procedure was very organized, very high tech, and very quick. We arrived to the Port at around 1:15 and waited in a fast moving line for no longer than ten minutes. While we were in line, the Krooz Komics entertained us to pass the time. When we got up to the counter, I was amazed that absolutely every step of the check-in process was done on a computer. I was just really impressed with how high tech everything was on this cruise; even the embarkation process. I have to say RCI had the Embarkation down perfectly.
Disembarkation was even better. We woke up at around 7:00, went to go eat in the Carmen Dining Room, and as we were eating, our color was called. We were one of the last colors, and we were off the ship at 8:15. We painlessly got off the ship and got our bags off of the baggage carousel. I just felt that this was very impressive, especially since there were 3,605 passengers on board. Royal Caribbean has the embarkation and disembarkation process on the Voyager down to a science.
ODDS & ENDS
IN CONCLUSIONI have to say that this week on board the Voyager of the Seas was my best cruise to date. The ship and the cruise surpassed my greatest expectations in every category. I would do this cruise again in a heartbeat. We are already looking into booking her sister ship, the Explorer of the Seas for next June.
I highly recommend this ship to anyone. If you want the feeling of being at sea, you may not like the Voyager. There are not that many public places on the lower decks from which you can see the sea. This ship is one of a kind, and she is completely impressive in every aspect. All in all, this was virtually a perfect cruise. We will definitely sail on Royal Caribbean, and a Voyager-class ship again in the near future.
Photos courtesy of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and many of our SeaLetter Voyager reviewers!
Sean Ryan is from Kingwood, Texas and has sailed on many cruise lines including Premier, Celebrity, Majesty, Holland America, Princess and Carnival. This was his first cruise on a Royal Caribbean ship. Sean may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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