Voyager for Teens

| August 21, 2005
CruiseMates Teen Editor

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and that's the part of cruising that I hate. My recent cruise on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas was definitely one of the best I have ever taken: I feel that the people I met will be friends for a lifetime, I enjoyed some time relaxing, and I had fun in the ports.

I wasn't as psyched up about this cruise as I usually get. I had been so tied up with school, track and work that I never really stopped to plan my vacation. As the last week before my cruise approached, I was getting more eager to leave Florida and spend a week in the Caribbean, and set aside my personal life for a while.

I must admit did some unusual things on this cruise -- things I usually wouldn't have considered because I would have been too busy with my new shipboard friends. Yes, I did meet an awesome crew of people on Voyager of the Seas. But for part of the cruise, I actually spent time with my parents! I know it sounds insane, but I didn't abandon them for the whole trip! Every night, I worked out with my dad in the gym, ran a mile (on vacation!), and chilled in the steam room. One day I even fell asleep on a sofa in the library, until some 10-year-olds thought it would be funny to wake me up. Until this cruise, I never had ventured into the ship's gym or the library! I was proud of myself for trying some new things.

There were 1,200 kids on my cruise. Voyager of the Seas has a passenger capacity of around of 3,000, and almost half of them were kids; there were more kids than crew (1,169). Most of the kids were 12 and younger - no big deal. Every new cruise I go on, I compare to my previous one, so I had to compare this to the nearly perfect Mariner of the Seas. I met a huge group of people on Mariner, but I was 15 then, and times were different.

On this cruise, I saw 14- and 15-year-olds and their squads of maybe 20 other teens with them; and then I saw our close group of about 10 teens who did things when they wanted and with whom they wanted. At first I saw this as annoying, but as the week progressed, I realized this is the way it works with older teens (16- to 18-year-olds), and I grew to like it better than when I was younger.

I met teens from every corner of the country. The first night I met up with five people: Sean, Jess, Mallory, Chris and Jules. Over the second and third days we welcomed Stephanie, Keisha, and Chris from Colorado into our group. I had some amazing memories with these people, from playing guitar outside by the pool at 2 a.m. to four of us crammed onto Mallory's bed watching "The Ring" and falling asleep! The pre-dinner meet-ups in the Aquarium Bar with Mallory and Jess; watching a giant sheet of glass break before dinner and people panic; meeting Stephanie in a random elevator; and our late night snacks in the Café Promenade.

I will never forget when we all played Bingo, or when Sean, Dave and Chris used lipstick to write the letters "J-O-E" on their stomachs during the Karaoke Idol contest. Or Keisha and I yelling "It's my body I do what I want" from South Park, and all of us knowing every word to the rap song "Okay" and screaming it down the halls! I wont forget the times when Jules and I traumatized the poor girls on Deck 8 with our dirty notes on the dry erase boards of their cabin doors, or our frequent ice cream runs, and just chilling in people's rooms. I wouldn't trade any of these memories; I wish I could still be there just having a good time on the ship. Thanks to everyone for all the memories.

As for the ship itself -- this is where I feel the cruise fell a bit short. But it didn't ruin my trip in any way. This was a spring break cruise, so problems were bound to happen. But Voyager of the Seas is approaching her sixth year in service, and compared to the newest Voyager class ship (Mariner), I thought she fell short in some areas. She could use some minor repairs on things that became plain annoying! For example, some arcade games didn't work well or at all; some were physically falling apart, with broken screens and controls. Elevators were a joke, if you could even catch a working one! It seemed like some security guards were out to cause fights between passengers. One night they made a group of girls leave the library for just sitting and talking. There were a few other minor things like the stream room being broken five nights in a row, and having to get five new room keys because they kept breaking. None of these problems would discourage me from taking another Royal Caribbean cruise, however.

I really liked the teen program on Voyager of the Seas, and I remember enjoying it on Mariner too. I am not really into structured activities, but the ones I did were really cool. I was "forced" to participate in charades the first night, and later went on the Studio B tour, which was cool. I got to play with snow in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! Joe from Optix was really tight, probably because he was young, right out of college and knew what teens wanted to do. He really made me think about working a term as a youth staffer after I finish college. He said he preferred Mariner of the Seas to Voyager, and that Mariner was just a perfected version of Voyager, to which I agreed. On the flipside, I thought Voyager had much better food, and the Royal Promenade was a lot more colorful then Mariner's.

However, I preferred the teen club on Mariner of the Seas to the Optix club on Voyager. Three ships -- Voyager, Explorer and Adventure -- were all built with a club called Optix. On the two newer ships (Navigator and Mariner), the location of Optix is now called The Living Room, and they added Fuel, a night club, back where the patio is on the earlier Voyager class ships. If any Royal Caribbean executives are reading this, you really should consider replacing the back patio with Fuel, and swapping Optix with The Living Room like on your two newer ships. Any teen who has sailed on both Voyager class versions will know what I am talking about.

All in all, I loved my cruise on Voyager of the Seas! I had so many memories, but I don't think I could ever enjoy this ship unless all my friends were there again! I highly suggest trying something you might not usually do on your cruise. My family and I explored a part of St. Thomas we never knew existed until we took a tour there, and we walked around a different part of San Juan. I suggest the Waverunner Experience in Labadee. I had fun trying things I wouldn't have even thought of doing, going to some new ports and experiencing new things. Voyager class ships are incredible, with amazing amenities for teen cruisers. I would suggest them to any teenager or family cruising with kids.

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