Voyager of the Seas Review
By Sgrane (Sgrane@cfl.rr.com)
Itinerary: Western Caribbean (Labadee, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, 2 Sea Days)
Sail date: May 27, 2001 to June 3, 2001
Review date: June 3, 2001
Rating Scale: 1-10 with 10 being the best / Scales usually in parenthesis ( )
Cruises: This is our 10th cruise. Previous cruises include; Norway 7x, Norwegian wind 1x, Norwegian Sky 1x
Voyager of the Seas (11): There is no one word to describe the beauty, elegance, and feeling this ship has. It is by far the most massive and incredible ship I have seen or sailed on. On the scale of 1-10, Voyager of the Seas is an 11! We set a record on our cruise – The May 17, 2001 Memorial week sailing had 3780 passengers, the largest number of passenger ever to sail a cruise ship. Voyager’s double occupancy capacity is around 3114, and her maximum capacity is just about 3880.
Lets get started with the cabin…
The Cabin (9): We had a category D6 cabin with balcony (Cabin 6646) – wonderful! The room itself was extremely ample in size and storage space. There is plenty of room under the bed for 4 full size suitcases. Don’t bother bringing any drinks that need to be chilled onboard. It is policy that you are not to bring it onboard (we did anyway). The refrigerators are pre stocked and have only enough room for 1 can or similar item. The safe is conveniently located above the TV in a cabinet, much better than in the closet like some other ships. The closet has ample space but bring extra hangars. Our only complaint on the cruise had to do with the rooms. On Voyager, there are no non-smoking rooms. Therefore, our room smelled like an ashtray. Being non-smokers we immediately complained. The crew acted immediately and within a 24-hour period had almost totally eliminated the smell. They achieved this by cleaning the carpets and upholstery, changed the linens (including curtains) and by providing us with a clean smelling spray in case the odor began to return. I believe, however, that RCCL needs to change their policy and have smoking and non-smoking rooms.
This was our first balcony cabin and probably our last. The reasons for this is quite simple: lack of privacy, transference of voices / noise, and cost. We paid $400 pp more for a balcony and wished we had saved that money for spending! Don’t get me wrong, the balcony is nice, but is it worth the money – probably not. Our neighbor was a smoker and the smoke smell was always drifting onto our balcony and into our cabin when the door was open. In addition, you can hear everything your next-door neighbor is saying or doing while the balcony doors are open. Lastly, unless you have a category C or better, your balcony has a translucent barrier that you can see through (not well, but well enough) or peek around. This was a disturbing thought with all the children / teens onboard. Next time we will save our money. We met a couple on board that had a cat C cabin. It was huge, had a tub in the bathroom, and had a private balcony (no translucent screen) - great room but they also paid $500 pp more than we did! Worth it? Again, probably not seeing you spend about 95% of your awake time milling about the ship! It would probably only be worth it if you were going to use your cabin quite often for relaxing.
The bathroom was adequate in size (scale-7). There was enough room for one person to use it easily. The shower is great. No more curtain! RCCL has introduced the glass shower door! Keeps in the heat and water and the door doesn’t stick to your butt! Although the shower size is limited and for woman, shaving would be awkward, my wife needed to open the shower doors while shaving. Bring your own shampoo, conditioner and body wash. RCCL provides bar soap that dries your skin and has a shampoo/conditioner combo that creates straw on your head. The rooms come with hairdryers and they are actually powerful enough to dry long and full-bodied hair!
Public Areas (10): Wow! This ship is a marvel. I don’t think I can review the whole ship, as this would require a small novel. I will just cover the major spots or the must do’s. I will start with the Royal Promenade. I pre-conceived this space to be dark and a place I would not spend a lot of time. Boy was I wrong! What a wonderful space. There is so much to see and do; it was like Disneyland meets LasVegas! Bright lights, art, bars, people, entertainment, shopping! All in one place. Be sure to check out the Pig and Whistle Pub. This is a great English pub with great drinks, entertainment and even a dartboard! The Casino is great! Straight out of Las Vegas! The La Scala theater is remarkable – Very beautiful and plenty of seats. We never had trouble getting a seat in the theater for the shows. In all there are about 25 bars and lounges onboard this ship. In seven days we got to about 9! Don’t miss a visit to the Vault. This is the onboard adult disco. It looks like it was plucked out of New York and put onboard this ship! It is wild!
The Dining Room is beautiful. Everyone compared it to Titanic. How can you not be awed by a three-story space with a half million-dollar chandelier hanging from the ceiling? The three-story dining room has a name for each floor. The Carmen is deck 3, The Boheme is deck 4 and the Magic Flute is deck 5. I recommend dining on deck 3 or 4 as these two dining areas are very elegant. The fifth floor is not as nice and is away from the action. Request a table near the balconies or windows. When you board the ship, check your table location and if unhappy with it, move! We were scheduled for a table of 10 in the Magic Flute. The table was in no-man land. We switched to a table on deck 3 with a view of the grand chandelier and the entire dining room. I think we had one of the best tables in the house, just a couple of table away from the captain’s table. The Portofino Restaurant is gorgeous, but upon the advice of others, we choose not to dine there for the $20 pp fee. Wind Jammers / Island Grill is the casual dining area. This area is nice and serves a large number of people. Lastly, a must see…believe it or not – visit the men’s restroom on deck 12 outside of the Windjammer dining room. The men’s room wall is all glass, overlooking the ocean, with a urinal in front of the window that is a stone waterfall complete with plants!
Pool / outside areas (10): The pool decks and sport decks are the best at sea! There is plenty of deck space and the planning of the outdoor areas is superb! The Rock climbing wall, Mini golf, basketball and inline skating were all on the back of the ship, totally removed from the pool areas. In fact, they are so well hidden that we forgot they were there for the first few days! The children’s pools and activity areas were at the front of the ship. They are separated from the pool area by the Royal Crown. What this all means is that while using the pool areas you don’t have the screaming of the tiny tikes, nor do you hear the shouts and noises of the sporting activities! The pools are divided up into two sections; the publics open pools and the adults’ only solarium. The public pool area has two pools and four whirlpool tubs. It is a great area with lots to do. The Solarium offers passengers over the age of eighteen the chance to get away from the noise of the public area and children. It is very nice with a roman feel. We spent 50% of our pool time there. And for that question that constantly appears online – is there topless sunbathing? RCCL states in the information sheets given to you upon embarkation, the following. Topless sunbathing is only allowed on European itinerary cruises. However, When we went to the sunning deck on deck 14, we saw to young women sunbathing topless and no one ever said a word to either of them.
Spa (4) /Fitness area (9): Steiner runs the spa / NCL uses Steiner as well. Two words describe it (and this is my opinion) “Rip off”. Although gorgeous in appearance, the spa is a waste. My wife and I schedule two treatments. One was Iona therapy, which was a crock and a joke. It cost us $120 each and lasted about an hour. In the end, they tried to sell me $350 in vitamins / pills for the continuation of the ion therapy, and we found that it wasn’t really what they claimed. We also signed up for the Couple Rasul. Which is a one hour session were couple treat each other with mineral salts/ steam bath / mud bath. It is a completely private event, but the Rasul steam room malfunctioned and did not work properly. We were not charged for this activity due to this. My wife also got here hair styled on the first formal evening day. It was styled, not washed, not cut and they charged her $90 including tip…I could not believe the price! If you insist on the spa – stick with the good old massage! The fitness area and steam rooms are great. There is quite an assortment of fitness equipment, a large aerobics / gym area, a large hot mineral pool with powerful jets, and men’s / women’s steam room and sauna. We spent a lot of time here. Very relaxing and the area is gorgeous.
Food (10): I don’t know about some of you people out there! We read reviews of the food being average to good. NOT! The food is excellent! Never had a bad meal, and each was delicious and limitless! I had two fillet Mignons one night and our tablemate had 8 lobsters on lobster night! The food is fantastic. Similar to what you would find on four to five star restaurants! The food in Windjammers was buffet, casual and good. Before the cruise, I thought to myself "who would want to go to a Johnny Rockets on a ship when you have the elegance of dining in such wonderful dining rooms?" Well, after eating there for midnight snack on day one, my wife and I were hooked! Don’t miss it. We ate there everyday for midnight snack and once or twice for lunch. Their shakes and onion rings are to die for! Believe me the food is great! I think I put on 7-9 pounds on this cruise. I’m actually glad to be back on a regular eating schedule! J
Service (10): My wife and I found the service to be exceptional! Our room attendant was polite, quick, and creative. Each night we had a towel animal to greet us on our bed, and one evening we returned to our room to find a homemade man sitting on our bathroom toilet. She used pillows to stuff him and he was wearing shorts, shirt, hat, sunglasses and had on tennis shoes! We got a big kick out of that! Our waiter was fantastic! He was attentive, quick to please, and ran all over kingdom come to satisfy the needs of our table – including our table mate with the hollow legs! The General ship staff was outgoing, friendly, and ready to serve. Upon leaving we left tips for all our people that exceeded RCCL recommendations!
Pre Cruise Day - May 26, 2001
My wife and I went down to Miami from Orlando a day early. We stayed at the Best Western Marina (Across for Biscayne Bay Marketplace). The hotel was nice, clean and convenient to the port. Parking was $10 and very limited. On the scale, I would rate it about a 7. Not the best, but not the worst. We paid $101 for the night; this rate was for a king size, bay view w/ full breakfast. We had a room on the ninth floor which gave a great view of the port and allowed me to watch Voyager sail into the harbor on Sunday Morning. The hotel does not start check in until 3:00, but we got our room at about 1:30pm. We went over to Biscayne Marketplace for the afternoon. The market place is a fun time, especially if you are hanging around Miami the day before your cruise. We had dinner at Smith and Wallenski’s (a $15 cab fair), a restaurant right at the mouth of the harbor with glass windows with fantastic views. We ate an early dinner (5:00pm reservations) and watched Carnival’s Destiny and RCCL’s Explorer of the Seas set sail! WHAT A VIEW! Dinner was a 10 although the meal for the two of us, with drinks ran $140 including tip. Portions were over generous and we had much left over, but no doggie bag as we were sailing the next day. After Dinner we took a cab to South Beach ($6 cab fair) and checked out the art deco and all the people (being Memorial day weekend, it was like spring break). We had breakfast in the hotel on cruise day – good (6 on the scale).
In November 2000, when we sailed NCL’s Sky, we stayed at the Double Tree Suites in downtown Miami. Both my wife and I felt that the Best Western was the better of the two hotels and offered the better rates as well.
Day One - Embarkation / Sail Away – May 27, 2001
As I stated above, we were on the ninth floor of the Best Western. At 6:00 am I awoke to watch the Sunday morning ships come into the harbor. I watched the Norway, Voyager and Paradise sail into the harbor. Voyager’s entry into the harbor was spectacular. The morning sun was rising creating a gorgeous purple sky as the fully lit ship entered the harbor and proceeded to the turn area where she made a pin point 180 degree turn to take her place at Royal Caribbean’s berth. Got some great pictures!
We checked out at 9:30am and were parked ($70 for 7 days) and checking in our luggage by 9:50am. Out of 9 previous cruises, this Embarkation put the others to shame! We walked up to the terminal at 10:00am, passed through the metal detectors and checked in at the ticket kiosk at 10:05am. After the brief check-in we were informed that the ship was not yet boarding and to have a seat in the waiting room. We opted for seats by the escalators. About two minutes after sitting the custom agent opened the stairs. We asked if we could board (affirmative). By 10:15am we were onboard Voyager and had begun our 7-day cruise. Meanwhile, everyone else was sitting in the waiting room had no idea boarding had begun. My wife and I were the first onboard ship!
We spent this first day onboard ship trying to get our bearings. It took me 4-5 hours to get the lay of the ship, where as it took my wife close to the full 7 days to get hers. Believe me, this ship is massive and on occasion I found myself going down the wrong corridor!
We utilized the in-room TV to book our Grand Cayman Excursion. It was quick and easy to use. In fact, one night we ordered room service, and no sooner had I punched the order button on the TV when my phone rang…it was room service calling to confirm the order and to let me know how long it would be!!! The TV was great for reviewing your account whenever you wanted. Charges on your super-card were instantaneous to the TV service. The TV offered pay per movies, adult movies, excursion purchase, room service, daily activity listings, regular TV’s, daily free movies, live shots of bow and Royal promenade, Casino lessons, excursion talks, and video feeds of events and shows.
After booking our Excursion (booked the other island online before we left – no problems) we headed to the spa to book our treatments. As we were one of the first onboard we had the pick of times. Did not take long to book the 7 days up though so act fast if you choose to use the spa!
As we explored the ship we found that you could rent Tuxedos onboard ship. No need to pre-order. I found this fascinating, as in the past I always had to pre-order. But I finally wised up and bought my own tux.
The first evening was casual with a casual dinner and great comedy show after. The entertainment was George Kanter (10) and he was hilarious and also, Ritmos Duo, a balancing act (7). George Kanter had the entire theater in stitches! After the show, there was the Bon Voyage Party on the Royal promenade. The parades are a must see. Be forewarned, the parade is one of the only times you realize there are tons of people onboard ship, so either come early or view from the balconies off of the elevator shafts!
We topped of the evening with a midnight visit to Johnny Rockets. I recommend, a BLT (great!), strawberry shakes (fantastic!), and onion rings (the best!). Remember – all the food is great!
Day Two / At Sea – May 28, 2001
Day two is the first sea day. It is also the first formal evening. The beauty salon and spa are packed on this and the second formal day so plan accordingly. We started this day with the Ion therapy spa treatment (see above). Afterwards, we spent the day lounging, having cocktails and enjoying the ship. This was a good day to shop, as everyone was still in the getting acquainted with ship mode so the stores were pretty empty. We also managed to achieve our first sunburn on this day! And there were plenty of people who got pretty bad sunburn / wind burns. Be aware of windburn, there are obviously plenty of people who are not aware that wind can create a burn as bad as the sun. Also, check out the Krooz Komics. They appear throughout the cruise and are quite funny.
The formal evening was great. Never before on a cruise have I seen so many people get dressed up for the formal evening. There were gowns, tuxedos, and suits everywhere, and those who did not dress seemed out of place. We attended the Captain’s champagne reception and got our picture taken at each of the six photo locations. The photographers ended up doing a great job. We ended up with almost $200 worth of photographs. We decided on first seating since we are early risers and we wanted to take advantage of midnight buffets and snacks. The dinner was the Captains Gala Buffet or Filet Mignon night! They are good so order a few if you can fit them!
After a wonderful diner we proceeded to the first Broadway style show – Broadway Rhythm and Rhyme. The show was great and there was a female vocalist that sang as well as Aretha Franklin! Almost all the cruise shows were standing ovations!
Day Three / Labadee – May 29, 2001
I’ve heard many opinions on RCCL’s private escape at Labadee. In my opinion this beach is a must do! For those of you who are familiar with NCL’s private Island, this is far better (with the exception that NCL’s island has better snorkeling). The area is a tropical paradise with many beaches and places to play! This is a great place for taking pictures of the ship! Tender service to the island was orderly and quick.
My wife and I did not partake in the barbeque, as we wanted Johnny Rockets for lunch. But we did stop by the pavilion to see what was being served. They had hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken, fruits, veggies, and more! There was plenty to do, including events not listed in the excursion guide such as parasailing!
The final tender back to the ship is at 3:30 pm. This works well because it gives everyone a chance to chill before dinner.
Day three evening is smart casual with recommend jackets for men (no tie required). The photographers are out again on this evening with their backdrops. The evening dinner on this night is Venetian feast! The dining room staff sings for you on this evening! Very enjoyable dinner!
The headliner show time was Tony Tillman “the pride of Las Vegas”. Tony Tillman is in the Broadway production of the rat pack, playing Sammy Davis Junior. This man literally is the re-incarnation of Sammy Davis. His show was incredible. He was humorous and boy could the man sing! Energy! Great act. The evening was topped of by the Rocking thru the ages dance party which included music form the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
Day Four / Ocho Rios, Jamaica – May 30, 2001
My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Ocho Rios five years ago and we couldn’t wait to get back. The ship arrived in Jamaica at 8:00 am and was there until 5:00pm. We spent the morning walking around Ocho Rios and shopping in the open market. The walk from the ship to the open market was about 15 minutes. Great shopping and you can haggle them and get very great buys! In the afternoon we had booked the San San Yacht cruise, which was very nice (9). Our tour started at 12:45. We boarded a fairly large and nice yacht on which we cruised over to Dunn’s River falls. We climbed the falls (a must!) and had a great time although the falls were very crowded. (Tip: the ship store sells the falls climbing shoes for $20. Don’t buy them on board. You can buy them in the Ocho Rios shopping areas for $8 - $10!). I recommend a water camera for this expedition. I brought my camera, but had a sandwich baggie to protect it. Even with that it still got a little wet, but not enough to damage it. You will get soaked climbing the falls! Also, climbing the falls is not easy and you can possibly get hurt if you are not very careful! The rocks are very slippery and in some locations the waterfall force is pretty strong. After the hour or so at the falls, the yacht took us to a snorkeling spot where we snorkeled for about an hour. The two-deck yacht was very tall and they allowed you to dive off the top deck into the water – many did! (About a 15 – 20’ dive!) The cruise then ended at the ship around 4:30pm.
This evening’s theme was Caribbean casual. And the dinner was Caribbean themed as well! After dinner we went to the Ice Jammin show starring David Cousans! Don’t miss the ice show. Get to the Studio B (the ice rink) early. Doors open at 8:30 for the 9:00pm show, but lines formed as early as 8:00pm. The show is spectacular, and when you add the fact the skaters are skating on a rink on a moving ship, it adds to the performance!
After the skating we head off to the “Newly, Not-So Newlywed Game”. Don’t miss this show. It is based on the game show and they use a newlywed couple, a couple of 2-5 years, a couple of 5-25 years and a couple 25 years plus from the audience. The show was hilarious and had the crowd rolling on the floors! This show is adult recommended – no children advised.
After the Newlywed game was the Mardi gras parade on the Royal Promenade. Again, a don’t miss show and get there early for a good spot!
The evening ended with the first midnight buffet, which was the Dancing Under the Stars Caribbean deck party. They had a Caribbean market buffet, ice carving, coconut bar and dancing! The only strange thing about this buffet was that there were no meats! We were expecting jerk chicken and that sort of fair. Up to this point, this evening was the most fun filled and exciting night of the cruise!
Day Five / Grand Cayman – May 31, 2001
Another Great port of call! The ship arrives in Grand Cayman at 8:00 am with a 4:00pm departure. We headed out bright and early for the Atlantis Submarine Tour. This was well worth the money. The sub dives to about 100’ deep along the Cayman wall. The aquatic life is amazing. We saw a large Green Moray Eel and quite a few Barracuda. The tour was top notch (10) and lasted about 2 hours total with about 50 minutes of actual dive time.
After our submariner adventure we did a little shopping. Don’t miss the rum cake. Find a shop that gives free samples and try it! It is so light and tasty that you will end up buying some! We did! Don’t make the mistake of buying the small ones, we did. They are actually single servings. Go with the bigger cakes even though they are about $20 each. There is a shop that gives free samples across from the Atlantis Submarine building (can’t miss it, its right by the tender pier).
We choose to spend the afternoon on board ship, as this was to be the next formal night! We had been under the impression that both formal nights were on the sea days, but this was not the case! We got plenty of sun that afternoon and gave ourselves plenty of time to get ourselves ready for dinner.
That Evening’s dinner was the best of them all. It was the Chef’s dinner night. They had beef tips, lobster, escargot, French onion soup, Caesar salad and more! Our tablemate had two salads, two escargot, French onion soup, eight lobsters, beef tips and two deserts! (Told you he had a hollow leg!). My wife had lobsters, I had beef tips and two lobster tails. The food this night was outstanding and the lobster was delicious!!! Save room for this dinner and order as much as you can eat!!! This evening is also another opportunity to get some good formal dress pictures!
The Headliner Showtime for this evening was comedian Rhondell Sheridan. Again a great show (10). He was very funny and again had the crowd rolling on the floors!
This evening ended with the Gala Midnight Buffet. Pictures from 11:30pm to 12:30 pm and eating the buffet after 12:30! Get to the Magic Flute on deck 5 early for pictures as the line get large fast! After having the large dinner, my wife and I were there as spectators only. We left the eating to others. The Gala Buffet was worth staying up for, the presentation was outstanding and the head chef was there for pictures! Food on the buffet included shrimp, cold cuts, chocolate, chocolate covered strawberries, fruits, vegetables, turkey, meats and more!
Day Six / Cozumel, Mexico – June 1, 2001
Got to love Cozumel Mexico! The ship arrives in Cozumel at 9:00 am and departs at 7:00pm. Again we were up early to go on the Catamaran sail, snorkeling and beach party. I highly recommend this tour (10). The tour starts on a large Catamaran. The crew is energetic and entertaining. The first location you sail to is a reef where you get about an hour to snorkel. The snorkeling is wonderful and the boat photographer will take underwater photographs of you. He fed the fish so they would get into the picture! He also takes other pictures while on this tour. Bring cash – the pictures are worth it 1 for $12, 2 for $20 and 3 for $28. After snorkeling the Catamaran sail for about 30 minutes to a gorgeous beach. At the beach there are unlimited margarita and beer (this is the case on the boat too), floats, kayaks, volleyball. All are included in the tour price. There are plenty of floats for everyone, but there are only about 12-18 kayaks and they go fast, so be quick if you want to get one. After about an hour you sail the 30 or so minutes back to the ship.
That evening’s attire is casual or western. The menu is western as well (or as western as RCCL could make it). This evening’s performance is Dreamscape (10). DO NOT MISS THIS ONE! The choreography and routines in this show will blow your mind! It is a sensational show filled with spectacular special effects!!! This was also the watch blow out night at the shops – any watch $69.95 – of course my wife had to get one!
The evening ends with the Country western dance party. We did not attend this 11:45 pm event as both my wife and I do not enjoy country music. We spent the midnight hour with friends at Johnny Rockets – I think when I got home I counted a total of 16 Johnny Rockets receipts!
Day Seven / At Sea – June 2, 2001
As with the first day at sea, this was a casual quiet day. We used this day to get some final sun, play mini-golf, watch the rock climbing, use the saunas and relax. We did our final shopping on this day and bought shirts (2 for $20). About midday of this day, you begin to realize the cruise is coming to an end – How sad L!
The Evening’s dinner was a feast of nations. We had the spring rolls and Prime Rib! It was delicious. This was also tip night, and like I said earlier – all our people deserved above recommended tipping with the exception of the bus girl who was average.
The evening entertainment was the Farewell Variety show. Of all the shows this was the most disappointing, especially for the final show. They had a comedian, John Wing (5) and a second performance by Ritmos Duo (6). The end of the show concluded with a farewell by the entertainment staff – that was pretty good.
We stayed up that night to about 1:00am talking with our tablemates in Johnny Rockets. It was hard to face the fact that Sunday was disembarkation day, an inevitable end to a wonderful vacation.
Day Eight / Miami / Disembarkation – June 3, 2001
Disembarkation was almost as easy as embarkation. The ship arrives in port around 6:00 and is tied up to the pier by 7:00 am. We awoke at 6:30 showered and headed to breakfast at 7:00am. They had two dining rooms and Windjammer open for a full breakfast. Not a continental breakfast like some ships. At 7:30am we headed to deck 4 for disembarkation. They disembark by luggage tag color. Here is the good advice…white tags get off first (we had green – third to get off. There are about 10 colors spanning about 2 hours of disembarkation time). When they called white tags we just shuffled off with the crowd, they check tag colors, but we slipped by (pretty easy). Once through we went through customs to the baggage claim. RCCL tells you not to get off until your color tag is called, stating that baggage is not available until called. Well we were one of the first ones down to baggage claim (8:00 am) and all the bags were already on the carousels. We grabbed our bags, went through the luggage checkpoint and were in our car heading home by 8:10am. Not so bad!
Voyager of the Seas is a must do ship. I had a passion for the Norway. I love her grace and charm, but Voyager has taken the spot as my favorite ship. I envy anyone sailing on her and can’t wait to sail Explorer in December (We booked her while on board Voyager). We would have done Voyager again, but they said most of the entertainment would be the same. Since Explorer is Voyager’s sister ship, we had no problems with cruising her instead. If you have any questions, concerns or just want to chat about this wonderful ship, feel free to e-mail me at Sgrane@cfl.rr.com