What can I say about Voyager of the Seas? The ship was incredible in so many positive ways. I am usually not a fan of the new mega-liners, preferring the smaller, more traditional ships such as Victoria, Rembrandt, and Caronia. I am especially surprised at my own positive reaction to this ship and Royal Caribbean.
We booked a Category D9 and were upgraded to a Category C. (I had a chance to look at all the cabin types, with the exception of the Royal Suite.) Our cabin was 277 square feet with a 69 square-foot balcony. The cabin was large enough for entertaining, and contained a full-sized couch and two large arm chairs. There was a walk-in closet, and a bath complete with full-size tub. Amenities included a stocked refrigerator, a safe and a great TV. I am not usually a TV watcher, but Voyager of the Seas had the best channels of any ship yet. There are lots of channels about RCI and Voyager of the Seas 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 lower half of the balcony is glass (except for 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 square feet. with a 50 square-foot 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 square feet in size.
My cabin location was perfect: just around the corner from the forward elevator foyer. 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.
The ship is truly awe inspiring when you see her. Check-in took only five minutes at the most (at the beautiful new pier), and then 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. A unique feature that RCI does is change the carpet every day 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 décor. 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 the) 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 complement 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 with Princess and Celebrity.
During the cruise, I was tempted to leave the ship only once, and that was 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. There's 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 every day, 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 workout 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- to 2-foot drop before the water level, Royal Caribbean (at least on this ship) fills the pools to overflowing, and the water makes a nice cooling-off area on the ledge around the pool. Voyager of the Seas'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.
There are nighttime activities a-plenty; I think there is something for everyone. Jazz in the Viking Crown lounge; disco in the two-story Vault; Big Band on certain nights; a 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-style shows during the cruise. The ice skating show was probably the best stage show I have seen on a ship to date.
All the activities are found in the Cruise Compass, which is the daily program. I felt the 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 it's even in color! I thought it deserved some mention.
The Last Day and Rough Weather
The last day of the cruise was quite rough and windy, and I thought the ship handled it quite well for a vessel that seems so top-heavy. There was a lot of pounding (these flat bottom ships!) and shuddering, and wind whistling through the halls. Pools had to be emptied and shows cancelled. It was the first time in a week I even felt the ship move, and I loved every minute of it. Spray from the ocean was even hitting our balcony up on Deck 9! The captain made several announcements and even tried to apologize for the weather (not necessary). Voyager of the Seas has a peek-a-boo bridge where you can watch the captain in action and look at duplicate instruments ["repeaters"] 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 other 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 have 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 the Voyager of the Seas. I still adore the old classic liners, but this ship has made a believer of me that bigger sometimes can mean better! I don't think this would have been possible had not RCI designed a superb ship, with the proper infrastructure surrounding it.
I know some of you are wondering about the negatives. Honestly, 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 that on 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 on my last Carnival cruise. All in all, the negatives were really negligible, and were not things that detracted from the overall cruise. This being said, I look forward to future cruises on the Voyager of the Seas and her future sisters. I certainly feel no ship in the seven-day Caribbean market can compare!
Photos provided by Royal Caribbean International.
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This is Ernest Roller's first review written for the SeaLetter and he may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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