We have just returned from the first Mediterranean cruise the Voyager of the Seas had and must say that it was most enjoyable. It was our 4th cruise with Royal Caribbean International. Although the route was very similar to the one we had on the Brilliance of the Seas in 2003, the itinerary was excellent in view of the fact that we had only one day at sea.
There are also noticeable refurbishments done to the ship, new carpets and new decorations. The food was also much better than we had on the same ship when traveling from New York to Canada.
I know it is impossible for everybody to get a cabin in the middle of the ship, but it was a blessing in disguise. The previous time we were in the front of the ship and walked ourselves to death to get to the other side. This time it was either to the left or to the right.
We were very fortunate to sail very close to Corsica because of an emergency on board. A person had to be taken to the hospital in Corsica on our second day(it was our day at sea). It was spectacular to see the limestone rocks with all the caves and azure seas. The city of Bonafaccio lies on the top of the island with a long city wall. Everybody was on deck to take pictures and videos. We hope that the person who was taken to hospital is fine and had recovered completely.
I have a few complaints i e:
We were sailing in the Mediterranean and it was supposed to be early summer, our weather was as expected, clear, but a bit chilly still. The temperature in the public areas however was extremely cold. If you dress to have breakfast in the Windjammer before you go on an excursion and it is a nice and sunny day outside you will have to go back to your cabin to get rid warm clothing. It is impossible to walk in the passages and public areas with a sleeveless top, it is just too cold. Formal nights were a nightmare with sleeveless gowns and a cold diningroom, promenade deck and bars.
They have also changed the time for the late dining room seating from 21h00 to 21h30. We never left our table earlier than 23h30, because food is served for all at the table at the same time, no matter if you eat a starter or salad before your entrée. In the past the shows for the late seating were before you go for dinner, now it is afterwards! The shows only start at 23h30. Most of the excursions are very early, the one for Lucca was at 7h00 and you are supposed to be there 15 min before the actual time. So be prepared for just a little sleep if you must still eat breakfast and go on an excursion the next morning after you have been to a show the previous night.
We actually have skipped most of the shows, just because of the fact it was too late.
Our cabin's remote control for the TV did also not work.
The drinks on the ship are very expensive and forget to buy something at the duty free shop to take to your cabin with corkage as in the past. It is just not allowed to bring any alcohol to your cabin. The waiters in the Viking Crown Lounge are hopeless, except for one girl. The other could hardy understand English and if they repeat your order it is some funny stuff that comes out and we were twice served with the wrong drinks.
I think Johnny Rockets is a horrible little restaurant. The decoration is like an old café of the sixties and the burgers are really not worth the effort.
As I have mentioned before the itinerary is good and the excursions worthwhile, except that some of the French tour guides cannot speak English even if they try to. The one who took us to Cassis was hopeless. I hoped that she will keep quiet on the return trip, but unfortunately she struggled on until we reached the ship. She was talking of a "donk" (donkey) and a "moo" (cow) and the rest of the sentences were just a hum and ha between some hardly understandable words.
Embarkation was a song as well as debarkation. We have opted for the Royal Caribbean bus to take us to the airport and they were so well organized! I will recommend their transport to the airport any time apart from the fact that it is more expensive than a taxi. The busses wait for you the moment you get your baggage and off you go.
We will recommend Royal Caribbean anytime apart from the few complaints.
The Voyager of the Seas is a beautiful ship, but the service was dissapointing. The food was lower quality than expected, and there wasn't even an outside area to eat. The entertainment was poorly done, and the Disco had a DJ that had no idea how to get a crowd up and dancing.
On a positive note, our cruise skirted a few hurricanes and the ship barely ever rocked. The balcony cabin was a good size and very nice. And the embarkation from Cape Liberty, NJ was the smoothest we ever had.
INTRODUCTION: This is my review of the August 26, 2005 nine day Caribbean sailing of Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas. First some background. My husband and I (late 30's) traveled with my parents (would disinherit me if I mentioned their ages, but you do the math) in two separate "hump" cabins on the eighth deck in category E1. All of us have been on ten plus cruises and basically have traveled at least once on every cruise line in this class. Let me start by saying that while this was a great getaway, the cruise didn't really meet the standards of most previous cruises that we had been on. Basically there were enough high points balancing out the lower points to make this trip only slightly better than okay.
EMBARKATION FROM BAYONNE: In general, leaving from Bayonne sure beats leaving from NY. Parking was easy and relatively cheap, and BTW they DO take charge cards. Cost was $108.00 for the nine nights. Unfortunately, there was the additional charge of having to have the car compounded and detailed the day after the cruise ended due to it having gotten covered in battleshipgray paint from a ship in the adjacent yard being painted. This is an ongoing and known problem which had appeared to be solved months prior to our cruise, yet occurred again on the cruise before ours and on ours. Do yourself a favor and check with the boards or even the powers that be at RCCL or the parking facility before you decide to park there in the future. The detailing did a great job, but some of the paint was impossible to remove, and the car will never be the way it was before we parked it there. I won't go into more about this, as it is a separate topic on the cruisecritic message boards. We arrived at the port at about 12:30, parked and immediately got on a shuttle to the terminal building. Lines were basically nonexistent, there was no wait for the bus from the terminal to the ship, and by around 1:00 we were onboard and on our way to our room. CABIN: While it was nice to be able to see both forward and aft from our balcony, I believe the "hump" cabins are somewhat overrated, and wouldn't feel pressed to have one in the future. On Voyager, these cabins are basically the same as any other cabin so there isn't any real plus other than the central location and the somewhat better view. One thing I found odd was that we noticed a lot of cigarette and cigar smell on our balcony. We have always had a balcony cabin on past cruises, and even with a neighbor being a smoker, never had such a problem with the odor that we noticed it to this extent. My best guess is that because our room was dead center of the hump, aerodynamics pushed any smoke odors onto our balcony and it just stayed there. We didn't notice this except when the ship was moving. The ship is "old" compared to many in this newer, larger size category, and in our room, the age was apparent. Our balcony door lock needed to be fixed the first day. (Yes, I know unless Spiderman was a guest onboard, chances of someone coming in the balcony were nil, but DH is a bit paranoid.) The mattress on my side of the bed had such a huge indentation in it, that I spent the first night feeling as if I would roll out onto the floor. The plumbing system just isn't made to handle a large amount of people wanting to use water at the same time, and therefore, the pressure in the shower was pretty low for all but one shower during our cruise. The room basically really could use a refurbishment. I do have to say, anytime we did ask someone to fix a problem, they did so quickly and to our satisfaction. My mattress was replaced with a perfectly comfortable one shortly after I spoke to the cabin steward about it. The cabin steward kept the room cleaned and stocked very well and unobtrusively, and was pleasant and accommodating whenever we did have occasion to need him for something. We got towel animals for most days of the cruise, and that is always a fun and special thing. THE SHIP DECOR & LAYOUT: The ship looks nice enough. The public areas were comfortable and well themed. Again, there are some areas that need thorough cleaning. The Promenade was really neat to walk along, but it kind of seems that RCCL banked on that being the main attraction, and you can only walk around shops so many times before the idea isn't as thrilling as it once was. Although there wasn't a lot of eye catching areas, the aquarium bar with all the fish tanks was really cool. Having the day of the week in the carpet of the elevators was a nice touch, and the detailed listing of where everything is located that is on the wall at each elevator bank was very helpful. For a large ship, it was easy to find our way around, and the signs all over the place directing you to different public rooms, restrooms, etc., were great. The glass elevators were great to look through, but for a ship the size of Voyager, only having two elevator banks is incredibly inadequate. We spent way too much time waiting for elevators and about 70% of the time, we would have to skip the first car that arrived as it was already full, and wait for the next car. We also noticed that the ship felt very crowded. We have been on all the other lines largest ships, and I think the reason Voyager feels so crowded is that since it is one of the first ships to be super large, they didn't have the benefit of seeing how to arrange spaces and traffic flow to avoid that face in the crowd feeling. FOOD AND DINING: The dining room layout with its balconies overlooking the bottom area was truly a pleasure to look at every night. We had requested main seating at a table for four. On embarkation day, we found that we had been assigned to a table for 12. The maitre'd said our best chances for being at a four was to switch to late, and he would get back to us the following day. The waiter the first night was only okay, and the assistant was either new or very lazy. My Mom asked for a straw and he told her he didn't have any. She asked if he could get one from a bar server and eventually he did so. When coffee was served, we requested half and half or cream instead of milk, and again were told they didn't have that. I said, surely the kitchen has cream as it is an ingredient in many dishes, etc. Finally the assistant grumbled about having to go up to the Windjammer to get the cream and then returned with the little cups found in the self serve areas. Neither of these requests were out of the ordinary, so we should not have had such a problem with them. BTW, we later found out that the pitcher of "milk" that comes with your coffee is half and half, which explained why the glass of milk I drank that first night was oh so creamy. Apparently the assistant waiter did not know this. The next night we were switched to a four person table at late seating. The table was in a great location, right next to the Captain's table. We had the most awesome wait staff, and I now understand why some people include the names of their wait staff in their reviews. Our waiter Sidar (spelling probably wrong) was great. He was efficient, pleasant, personable and just a really nice guy. The section captain Cal, was also really nice, and we looked forward to hearing tips about the late night activities and following day's plans from him each night. But Eric, the assistant server has got to have been the best wait staff person any of us have ever had on any of our cruises. His sense of humor was hysterical and he was so attentive to details, that it was like he read minds. He remembered all our preferences (and they could be picky at times), we never lacked for anything, and he had us in peals of laughter during each meal. The food in the main dining room was really quite good. I know RCCL recently changed the menus to do better in this category, and they truly seem to have succeeded. Even on nights that I thought I would be settling with the entree I had picked, I ended up enjoying it anyway. From seeing the older menus on-line and comparing them to the ones we had, I can see that in order to change the quality of main courses offered, RCCL cut back in the other areas. The bread offerings each night hardly varied. There was only one salad offering (other than the always available Caesar salad offered in the alternative section) each night, and the dressing choices were generic thousand island, oil & vinegar, low fat honey mustard or blue cheese. The dressings never changed and there was never a special dressing to go with the salad that was on the menu. It was hard to find vegetables at dinner. After we realized that when the menu says steak with broccoli floret, that that is exactly what you get, one floret, we started ordering a bowl of veggies as a side dish for the table each night. Even though the veggies that came with the entrees were basically a garnish, they were always perfectly prepared and seasoned. Also, some of the vegetarian entrees were good. Many nights we ordered a side dish of the pasta dish too. The desserts were pretty much amazing. I know this because I usually ordered all three every night. Presentation of everything thing we ordered in the dinning room was excellent. The breakfast buffet food was pretty good. It would have been nice if the waffles were freshly made and if there was not such a long line for the toast and egg stations every time we were there. Also, when they ran out of something, it was a problem getting them to refill it. Despite those few shortcomings, breakfast was much better than the lunch buffet. The lunch buffet basically consisted of one or two poorly prepared and overly salted entrees, burgers, franks, mashed potatoes (they were great) and sandwiches. The afternoon snack or "tea" was by far the worst food offering. Every day it was the same, nachos or tacos, samosas, burgers, franks, pizza, and not so great scones. We went to both late night buffets and were underwhelmed. The Promenade Cafe served pizza, sandwiches and desserts basically around the clock. The sandwiches were pretty good, and the pizza while not being "real" pizza was pretty good compared to other line's pizza. The desserts were okay, but the cookies were phenomenal. They selection available throughout the day changed, but we never had a cookie we didn't like. Coffee and tea was also available, and the Seattle's Best coffee they served (free) was really quite good. Unfortunately this venue is not made to handle the throngs of people that all seemed to want a snack at the same time. I believe RCCL could have planned better with regard to staffing this area more at times when logically it would be crowded (after a show, after sail away, etc.) We ordered room service one night but wouldn't have missed anything had we not ordered it. The quality of the food was poor and it took longer than we expected to get to the room. We did find it convenient to order using the TV, and they were great about calling to confirm the order, let us know the type of cookie we requested wasn't available but a substitute was, and calling again to let us know the food was on the way. One thing that is great about the room service on Voyager is that the dinner menu from the dinning room is available for order during dinner hours. Although we didn't take advantage of this, it was nice knowing it was an option, and others would clearly benefit from this. Also, RCCL offers an extensive breakfast menu for room service which is another great feature. ACTIVITIES: There were plenty of things to do throughout the day, and on the days that it rained, extra movies were scheduled. Even if there were no planned activities, between the pools, rock wall, inline skating, mini golf and ice skating it would be hard to get bored. Reactions to the cruise director, Becky Thomson are generally love or hate her, but we thought she was hysterical. Especially when she hosted the night time game shows, her wry sense of humor shined. The Quest was a blast. There was no one in that room that was not laughing and having a great time, participator or spectator. By tacit agreement, no one ever actually says what "the Quest" is when they mention it. Unless you have been to it, the only way to know what it is is to go, so GO! Mom and I did go to Arts & Crafts which was fun and a nice way to spend an hour on sea days. CASINO: We didn't spent a lot of time there, but I just wanted to mention that besides the usual quarter and dollar slots, they have nickel and penny slots too. SHOWS: There were three production shows, an ice show and other headliner shows with comedians, singers, etc. Two of the three production shows were good, the third one which was all Broadway numbers was not so good. We found that show kind of boring because none of the songs really came from major musicals that we were familiar with, other than Chicago. I believe unless you are willing to pay the royalties to get the show tunes that are most loved, a Broadway theme production show is wasted on most audience members. The dancing was so so and we have seen more technically demanding shows on other lines. Only the principle singers are mic'd, and of them the girls were pretty good, the guys not as good. The female principle singer who did not participate in the dance numbers was really quite talented. The headline shows in general were above average compared to typical cruise shows of this type. Even though I am not a fan of the Beatle's, the tribute band "Beatle Maniacs" was really great. Besides being awesome that we could actually see an ice show on a ship, the skaters were very talented and the show was a lot of fun. There were also two parades down the promenade during the cruise. The first one was kind of boring, so we decided not to fight the crowds to see the second one. Young children would probably enjoy the parades more than adults, and would definitely get a kick out of the stilt walkers. Taped game shows and parades were shown on TV during the week after they ran live. PORTS: I won't get into a review of the ports since for us, the cruise is the destination and also, there are so many reviews out there already on ports. I will talk about Labadee for a bit though. Compared to other cruise line's private ports, there were some pluses and negatives. There are no established walkways, so all the walking is on sand which can be uncomfortable for some. On the info about the port, it makes clear that "washroom water is not for drinking." Also, as opposed to there being A hand sanitizer by the buffet, there was an entire wooden wall of them. Being afraid of the sanitary conditions is a definite negative compared to other line's private ports. Also, the pushiness of the vendors made us very uncomfortable. That being said, the beach and landscaping was beautiful, and while we did not use the waterpark, it looked like a lot of fun, and there were an extensive number of options by way of water sports, parasailing, etc., which the other line's ports don't feature. DISEMBARKATION: We requested to be in the first group off the ship since we needed to pick our dog up from boarding by noon or would not be able to get him until after the holiday weekend. Also, we had no checked luggage. Guest services accommodated us without a problem. As long as your luggage is about the size of airline regulation carry on luggage, they said we were allowed to not check it the night before. We arrived in NJ about an hour later than expected, and the ship was cleared by about tenish. We were the first ones off, so I can't really speak for how long it took for the later colors to be called. THE REAL ISSUES: There are a couple of glaring negatives that honestly will make us second guess a RCCL cruise again. First, it seemed as if unless a staff person was personally involved with you (your wait staff or cabin steward basically) they just didn't really care about you or the job they were doing. The attitudes of the staff were not like what we have encountered on other lines. It seemed as if most staff people felt there were there to do the basic requirements of their job and nothing more. Also, it concerned me that during the entire trip only one time did I see someone actually cleaning something in a public area. The same sticky fingerprints on the elevator button that were there at the beginning of the cruise were there at the end. Cups and other debris was left in hallways, stuck in banisters and on the floors of the elevators for hours. I have never been on a cruise before where staff members were not constantly cleaning and maintaining the public areas. It seems as if the attitude of the staff on Voyager is we will deal with Norwalk when it happens as opposed to preventing it by basic cleaning. Our cruise had over 1000 children on it, the largest proportion teenagers. There were often large packs of teens together taking over public areas such as the internet cafe, the hallways, overhangs above the promenade, etc., cursing, fooling around, etc. The elevators were often occupied by teens riding up and down going nowhere. The buttons were often all pushed "for fun." At one point a group of teens even called 911 while my husband was in the internet cafe and then joked about it till staff called back and scared them away. Another night, they were setting hair on fire, and eventually security showed up, kicked them out and then for the last two days or so of the cruise made sure teens were out of the internet cafe by 11 PM ish. I firmly believe it is a parents responsibility to parent their child. But, on the other hand, it is not unreasonable that a 16 or 17 year old is going to spend a minimal amount of time with their parents while on vacation. While it really isn't the cruise line's job to parent, I strongly feel that if the usual amount of staff that other line's have were present doing the things that staff on all the other cruises we had been on usually do, this acting out, rude behavior would have been somewhat deterred. If someone is constantly making sure the bar cups are taken out from the elevator floor or cleaning the push buttons near the elevators, kids would be less likely to abuse the elevators. If there were an attendant that had any hours at all in the internet cafe (there wasn't BTW), kids would not be in there hanging out in large groups cursing, listening to loud music and just misbehaving. If someone were responsible for cleaning the stairway banisters as frequently as the industry norm (never saw anyone do this at all BTW) kids would be less likely to congregate on the staircases. Pretty much anyone I spoke to in passing had comments about how obnoxious the misbehaving kid thing had gotten. If we saw it, obviously staff saw it, yet nothing was done to deter it. It was obvious that staff was aware of the larger than usual amount of kids expected, since before we even left NJ, it was repeatedly announced that a 1:00 am curfew would be in place for anyone under 18 not in a ship's organized activity or with parents. I just don't understand why despite having a large security force (we saw them getting the promenade ready for the parades, and know they had an obvious security presence available) they where not utilized to make all the guests more comfortable. We have cruised at this busy time of year for kids to be cruising in the past on other lines and never seen this problem before. SUMMARY: There's Pepsi, and then there is Coca-Cola. There's Burger King, and then there is McDonald's. There's Universal Studies, and then there is Walt Disney World. In life there are lots of close seconds. The people who love Pepsi, Burger King and Universal over the "number ones" are a loyal fan base and really support their favorite products. The companies that are the clear "number twos" seem to accept that and not do much to improve to that slightly better number one slot. RCCL like Burger King and Pepsi and other "number twos" spend their resources maintaining their fan base instead of trying to recruit new fans. RCCL's loyalty program is known as one of the best in the industry, but in our opinion, they just did not do enough to win us over to their side. It was a better than okay experience, but I can get all the positives I found on this cruise plus many fewer of the negatives by choosing another line. In short, unless there was a really great itinerary that I absolutely had to do, I don't think I would choose RCCL again.
This was my family's first RCCL cruise. We have cruised 4 other times. We brought along 10 first time cruisers who were very impressed with most aspects of cruising.
Dining Room We had 2nd seating at the Carmen dining room. The food was good, not exceptional, and ordinary presentation. Our waiter Antonio was exceptional and fantastic. He made the whole dining experience worth it. It was very nice at the end of the day to have him there treating us all so well, just an exceptional person! The dining room was elegant.
The breakfast was fairly disappointing, just average in choice. The lunches were good also.
Windjammer I ate there once and I wouldn't do it again. It was very over-crowded with people wondering around looking for a table to clear. The food was ok. The trick here is not to try and eat when everyone else is trying to also. My kids ate there for breakfast and really liked it.
Room Service I only ordered breakfast and it was fairly unimpressive, no fruit! My kids ordered at 1 and 2 in the morning and said everything was great!
Shore Excursions If you didn'tbook online or on the first day, you were out of luck. Our friends did all their excursions out on the piers and had a much better experience. They basically asked to go someplace where the cruise ships weren't. St. John was completely overcrowded and unpleasant. The snorkeling was awful.
The best stop was Labadee Hispanola. Everyone wished we could spend an additional day there. Spotlessly clean, not even a gum wrapper! The Haitians working there were very nice and helpful, quite an education. The tender ships were very good. The jet skiing was a big hit!
Disembarkation I was worried about this because we had an 11:51 flight. We got white tags and were off the ship by 7:20. By 8am we were through customs/immigration, picked up our bags and were off to the airport. There is also the "travel lite" option where you can take your own bags off as long as you don't need any help. We had friends that didn't get off the ship until 9am and almost missed their 1:30 flight. Apparently Customs and Immigration was completely stopped.
Overall we would take this cruise again, but not at spring break. I'll take my kids out of school and have a much more relaxing, enjoyable time avoiding long lines.
HORRIBLE TREATMENT BY CUSTOMER SERVICE STAFF AND HOTEL DIRECTOR. My boyfriend and I received appalling treatment as my luggage was negligently put on another ship the Navigator!! We were treated without empathy of the situation or without so much as an apology from the Director of Hospitality - Darren Budden as my luggage never arrived the entire cruise and after lies of being told that it would be shipped to various ports of call. This was not an airline error but rather a Royal Caribbean mishap at the port. As a resolution, I was given a left over shipshape tee-shirt and a toiletry kit containing a small tube of toothpaste, one razor and a toothbrush to survive an entire week.
The management on the Voyager offered us a token $150.00 and we were told that this was the company's policy to compensate for the loss of a weeks worth of clothes without recourse. When I had appealed to his sense of fairness and asked for our expenses on board to be compensated he said it was not company policy, offering only to pay for a shore excursion without any understanding ofthe impact not having clothes - missed activities, the loss of memories not made or captured on photo, the inability to utilize the fitness facilities on board due to not having appropriate clothing and shoes and the overall stress and excessive time involved in efforts to find a solution to the situation that occurred. This apathy along with the additional stress at the end of our trip of being told our luggage would be waiting for us at port when in reality it was still on the Navigator made our trip, not the "vacation of a lifetime" that Royal Caribbean advertises, but more a "trip from hell". They do not even sell regular women's clothes on board. I had to buy oversized shorts and a t-shirt and flip flops for $70.00 and all they offered us was a $150.00, when I was stuck buying their clothes at their prices!! We ate in our room on formal night, as I had not clothes to wear and I felt very uncomfortable.
They don't even sell swimsuits on board, and our first port was Labadee, which sells nothing, so I had 4 days before I even had an option to buy a suit. This was a terrible experience, I really have nothing good to say about it. Yes we tried to make the best of it, but a week with only the clothes on your back, and then trying to find something suitable to wear at the ports, when all they sell are t-shirts and shorts, can make a woman stressed out and depressed. I'm sure most women would agree with that. We could of had a nice vacation, if Royal actually gave a damn that they lost my luggage, but they did not. They said $150.00 and that's it. I had no underwear or bras and the ship didn't sell any. We sent a letter to the CEO and President the week we returned and it has been 2 weeks with no response. How can they not respond to a customer complaint asking them to rectify the situation?
It's all about customer service, and Royal has absolutely no clue what that means. They raffled away free cruises all week on the ship, but yet they screw over someone's current vacation and all they offer is $150.00? Pitiful. I could go on and on about how we were treated, but that pretty much sums it up, pitiful. And to top it off, it was only my bag and one other that was put on the wrong ship, and with over 3000 people spending lots of money, they could only offer us $150.00 for me to go a week without my belongings when we planned so long and took off work to have a "vacation of a lifetime". My advice -- skip this ship and Royal Caribbean all together. The food was not great, and the service throughout the ship was not what it should have been. It's pretty sad when customer service comes down to this.
This was our fourth cruise... 2 previous cruises with Carnival, one with Princess, and one cruise with Costa. There were four of us... husband, myself, and two kids.
Food... Some of the best food we have ever eaten. The best on a cruise ship so far. The food was beyond our expectations. Our waitress told us Royal Caribbean statred a new menu and new selections two weeks before our seeting. Buffet had many choices, and dining room food and service for lunch and dinner was great.
Stateroom... We started out with an oceanview stateroom on deck two. VERY SMALL. We upgraded to a delux balcony, and were impressed. The balcony and larger room was well worth it. The balcony was nice to have and sit on, adn the extra room was nice for relaxing in the cabin. After the upgrade, everything went well.
Entertainment... the poolside band was unbelieveable! Played all types of songs. Great singers, and really allowed us to feel stress free. The cruise director Bcky Thompson also went out of her way. Extremely funny and talented person, who seems to enjoy her job. Casey the activities cordinator "Bingo Man" also wasfunny and worked with Becky to make everyones cruise even better. Poolside entertainment was great. The ice show was the best show we have ever seen. New costume every three seconds... some magic... wow! Shows were pretty good... always something to do! The golf and rock wall were great. The comedians were funny.
The ice cream was a great extra. 24 hour ice cream was great to top off a meal. The midnight buffet was good, and the lobster was a hit! LIked the dining entertainment and towel animals. We were nto once able to tell we were on a ship. Not one bit of movement felt by anyone! The cafe was a great place for good snacks.
Overall this was our best trip ever! There is not one negative, and not one thing I can correct. I would not have ever asked for a better vacation. Can't wait for our next cruise Royal Caribbean! Any questions... feel free to email me.
Voyager of the Seas and its staff and crew were wonderful. Food was very good, room and bed small but comfortable. We had glass table removed. The entertainment was first class and the skating was amazing. We had a great waiter, assistant, and headwaiter. Way to go Sir Ronald, Christian, and Mr. Asif. We sailed on Voyager's 10th sailing six years ago and found things in remarkably good shape in 2006. There was lots of new carpet, wood refinished, etc. Our tablemates were fun and we would do Voyager again.
We have about 50 cruises under our belt since our first sailing in 1984. Our preferred line is Celebrity; RCI was in secondary position. However, we have cruised many lines, including Carnival, Princess, NCL, and Royal Viking. Our ages are 50 and 55. On this cruise, we had about 50 people in a group -- some well known to us and some becoming new friends. This was our second time sailing on the Voyager, our fourth sailing on a Voyager class ship, since we sailed Explorer of the Seas twice before. We choose a GS category, suite 1568, both for roominess of cabin and Concierge lounge privileges.
We were there on time, but the ship wasn’t! High winds in Bermuda had prevented the Voyager from sailing for New Jersey at its scheduled time. Winds were described in the Bermuda Gazette's headline as “ Winds of Terror. “ Voyager was forced to sail a day late, and although it made up much time, it still didn’t arrive until mid-afternoon at the Bayonne, N.J. dock. That meant 3,000-plus passengers had to disembark before starting to board the 3,000-plus waiting at the pier. I willgive Royal Caribbean and its Bayonne staff high marks for trying to do it as well as it could be done. Unfortunately, sooner or later it simply had to become a madhouse, leaving passengers with frayed nerves. The situation was not helped by the fact that this cruise had 800 kids sailing, or so I am told.
All in all, RCI did a decent job; they had hot dogs, sandwiches, soda etc. brought in, and provided entertainment for the kids, balloon makers and a band for adults. However, despite their best efforts, I am told that by the time the last people boarded, nerves were pretty well frayed. They even had free water taxis to New York City to keep people busy. The last people boarded after 10 p.m., however, so happy campers they were not. Still, I can’t fault RCI, and having to bus people to the ship from the terminal in Bayonne didn’t help expedite the boarding.
The GS category is a spacious cabin; we have had it before so knew we would be happy with it. Simeon, our cabin steward, was excellent. The only cabin complaint was that our plumbing broke down twice during the cruise. It was rapidly repaired, but several in our party on various decks reported having the same problem: toilet stoppages. Large bottles of shampoo and bath gel were provided and replaced as needed.
The GS category comes with a small lounge providing free drinks and snacks before dinner. Our cruise was pretty full, so this is the first time we found the concierge lounge was often very busy. Seating is limited due to its size. You need a separate key card to get in.
Here RCI has really slipped since our last sailing on the Voyager a couple of years ago. The first notable change was in the physical menus themselves. They were changed from the traditional large, fancy restaurant style menu to an artsy folding menu. They were much harder to read, and had the feel of an Applebee’s or Denny’s menu without the big pictures of the hamburger specials.
Then the food itself was just not so good. We are Diamond members, so RCI food is not unknown to us. The steaks one night were pure shoe leather; everyone at the table who ordered them agreed. When I ordered the alternative steak one night, it was good enough, but the main dish the earlier night was horrible. No one at our four tables was impressed with the selections or the quality. The veal parmigiana on another night was pure cardboard! I’ve eaten many a meal on RCI, but recently I sailed twice on Carnival, which is not a favorite of mine, but honestly their food was superior to the food on this voyage.
When we sailed Carnival, we were astounded when the waiter served bread a piece at a time instead of placing bread baskets on the table. I almost fell out of my seat when the RCI waiter initially served our bread the same way!
SERVICE Service was a real mixed bag. Our waiter was diligent and the headwaiter stopped by every evening and was diligent in providing the little extras requested. The busboys, on the other hand, were simply horrible. Since they complete much of the service work, this really slowed the dining process. One of the big complaints at our table was the after-dinner coffee. Several people liked espresso after dinner. RCI used to provide free cappuccino, but that went by the wayside a while ago. The problem was that many who enjoy espresso after dinner also like sambucca or something with it. Well, liquor is provided by the bar waiter and espresso by the busboy. So to get the espresso takes 15 minutes, and the liquor follows 15 minutes later. You can have either cold espresso and your liquor, or espresso with the liquor by itself after you had espresso. Since neither of these items is inexpensive, you should at least enjoy them the way they were meant to be enjoyed, together. Despite repeated complaints that we would like to get them together, apparently this was impossible. Sadly, the RCI dinner experience is rapidly going mass-market. I sailed NCL recently, and again I had a far better dining experience, even with NCL's freestyle dining. And they provide the cappuccino timely and for free! We were, needless to say, less than happy with the main dining room.
The lunch buffet I found to be more than satisfactory, in both food quality and service. We had no complaints in this area.
The ports were nothing out of the ordinary, and since we go for the ships, I leave port commentary to others who explore ports more than we do.
GYM Personally, I would never be caught dead in a gym; I have carefully cultivated my body mass and wouldn’t risk losing any. However, several members of our group are of a different persuasion and like to abuse themselves doing marathons and such. They were not overly happy with having to pay for a spinning class and then finding that their machines had broken water bottle holders. They felt that if they had to pay, they should at least have equipment that was in proper working order.
NICKLE and DIMING On a 1-to-5 scale, I'd give RCI a solid 4, aiming for a 5. The free cappuccino of yesterday in the dining room is gone; now you have to for it, and it takes forever as I stated. The free ice cream stand on the boulevard was replaced with a Ben and Jerry’s paid ice cream at $4.25 per serving, and the server had not a clue about which ice cream was which flavor. There is free frozen yogurt on the pool deck. Johnny Rockets charges for admission and for milkshakes. They also sell wine packages; then you have to hope you can get the wine served at dinner by an overworked staff. There's a surcharge restaurant, Portofino’s; several in our party went there one evening and thought it was nice but nothing to brag about.
CASINO I can’t complain, since I came home with more than I left with. I hit several $400 and $500 jackpots, and heard of at least two $8,000 winners. There were plenty of quarter and even penny slots. Just be careful, since many machines allow you to set the amount -- especially the $5 dollar machines, up to $25 -- so make sure you know how much you are playing. The quarter machines give options from 25 cents to $1 per credit.
DISEMBARKATION It was chaos for the most part. As Diamond members we are afforded first call off. We were notified by flyer that one restaurant would be our waiting area. We arrived to find no one there; we had been moved to another restaurant area. When we were finally called, they called not only our number but the four immediately after; so much for priority. It was mass exit time. In Bayonne, you have to be bused from the ship to the terminal area, and luggage creates another delaying problem. The elderly had a problem mounting very high bus entrance steps, which didn’t help things move along. Then the luggage area was small and we saw only three porters there. That's 500 couples per porter. I decided to monkey our suitcases out and get the car rather than stay there and pray for assistance with the bags. Fortunately the pick-up area is right out the door so it could have been worse.
So I went off to get the car via another shuttle, and returned to the pick-up area. The good news about Bayonne is that it is a large and pretty empty area, so many cars making pick ups wait along the outer roadways on the side until called by their passengers on cell phones. This makes picking people up much better than at the very limited New York City pier area.
RCI is getting to be a more mass-market product every day. As someone who has sailed them for years, I find that sad but not surprising. It rained in Jamaica, so many people stayed on board. A movie was already scheduled in the screening room. That room seats I would guess about 40 or 50 people. No one thought to move it to the show lounge since it was raining. There's nothing like having about 600 people show up to a movie with 50 seats!
Overall, I never had a cruise I didn’t enjoy for the most part, but this Voyager cruise goes on the bottom of my list of good cruises!
As for selling things onboard, like the art auctions -- haven’t we run that into the ground yet? And now the TV in the cabin has all RCI and ship commercials between tired programming. If they put half the effort into getting a cup of espresso to you as they do marketing their extras, they wouldn’t have to work so hard at selling you stuff. It was $11.95 for a pay-for-view movie; even my horrid cable company back home doesn't have that much gall.
--George in NY
Questions or comments – firstname.lastname@example.org – please indicate Voyager question in subject so it isn’t confused with spam and dumped.
This was our second cruise on Royal Caribbean. There were two couples, Rebel & Comet Cruiser (Nancy & Gail) and our DH’s. We had such a good time we booked while on board.
Embarkation: We drove from Ontario to Newark, NJ the day before & stayed over in the Ramada Inn by the airport. We drove to Bayonne and arrived about 11:30am (after only getting lost a couple of times). Upon arrival we were directed to drop off passengers and luggage right at the terminal and then park our vehicle in the long term parking. The cost was $12.00 per day for the parking. Porters took our luggage and Gail & I waited with our carryons while the hubbies parked the van & walked back.
There were people there to greet us at the door to the terminal and on our way to check in. We had done the set sail pass online and went right to a check in counter and were through in about 5 minutes. Got our picture taken for our Sea pass cards, and were on the shuttle bus to the ship by about 12:00. Wewere on the ship by 12:10 and being greeted by Micah, one of our favourite cruise staff from our Grandeur cruise last year. He remembered us and it was wonderful to be greeted by hugs as soon as we boarded. Our cabins weren’t going to be ready till 1:00 so we went to the Windjammer to get lunch, and enjoyed it on the pool deck. Sailaway at 5:00 under the Verrazano Bridge. We were up on the pool deck. It was an awesome sight. Everyone cheered when we made it under without touching. Our cabins were 6606 & 6608, which are adjoining balcony rooms. They were a good size and the balconies were great. They were fairly enclosed, which I liked. It was our first one and now I don’t think we’ll ever cruise without one. The stateroom had lots of storage space. Our stateroom attendant was great. He got us robes the first night when we asked for them and was more than attentive. We both had fridges in our cabins which were never cold. Gail called to have hers fixed and even afterwards, it still wasn’t ever cold enough.
We were in the Carmen dining room. There are 3 floors. Magic Flute, La Boheme, and Carmen. We were at a table for 6 with a couple from Hong Kong. He had gone to an Ontario University for four years and was thrilled to be seated with Canadians to catch up on all things Canadian. His wife was fairly quiet at first, but spoke to us more as she became more comfortable. Our waiter was Bobby and Assistant was Dedin. They were a wonderful team and made every night a pleasure. The food was excellent most of the time. The service, company and atmosphere more than made up for anything that was lacking. Just make sure you know what time your seating is. We had early and the first night it was 6:15. After that it was 6:00, which we didn’t realize until after 3 nights of being late.
We had Johnny Rockets for lunch one day. The food was good, but the milk shakes are absolutely amazing. Good old fashioned stand your straw up in them and delicious! The little dance routine the wait staff puts on makes it a lot of fun and well worth the 3.95 cover charge. The only problem was we had no room for dinner that night!
The Café Promenade is a great place to get a snack or coffee, tea, etc. any time. They have sandwiches, pizza, and cookies and are open 6AM to 4AM every day. I was up much earlier than my companions a few times and went to get coffee and danishes to hold me over until breakfast.
Entertainment: They had been doing the same ice show for 5 years and they were showing a brand new one starting with our cruise. It was amazing, especially considering the small ice surface. Don’t miss it.
We didn’t attend a lot of the shows, but did see the welcome aboard show, with the comedian and the parades in the promenade. They also did American Idol karaoke, and kept it going throughout the cruise, crowning a winner the last night on board. We only saw the Cruise Director at major events and never saw him any other time around the ship. We just found this a little odd. Last year on the Grandeur we ran into the CD all the time and took pictures with him. He was always at all the parties, etc. Maybe it’s just us and they are only supposed to host the big events. His staff were everywhere and were a lot of fun.
The ship itself is beautiful. The artwork is stunning and plentiful. The designs of the dining rooms, Cleopatra’s needle, the Royal Promenade, etc. etc. are all awe inspiring. There are many places to just sit and people watch or you can go to the Pig & Whistle for a beer, or watch a football game at the Sports Bar. The staff are friendly, and make you feel at home. They genuinely want to make your experience on board unforgettable and they do an excellent job. From your cabin attendant to the person cleaning the handrail as you go down the stairs, to the pursers desk, to the greeter in the windjammer they are all there to help you and give you a big smile and wish you a good day.
Our ports were Labadee, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Freeport. We had fantastic weather and smooth seas 90% of the time. Labadee is a beautiful beach day. Ocho Rios was fun. We went to Margaritaville and Dunn’s River Falls. Hubbies climbed the falls and really enjoyed it. We went to Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman. It was gorgeous and the water was beautiful, clean and refreshing in the 95 degree temps. We had very limited time in Freeport so we just did some souvenir shopping at the straw market right at the port. We didn’t do any excursions or even make plans ahead of time. We just knew some of the sights we wanted to see and got cabs at the ports and off we went. Our Cruise Compass the night before always provided a map of the area and gave advice on what a cab should cost and which ones to use.
A couple of downsides: There are over 3,000 passengers on this ship. This can be a problem at times. For example, peak times in the Windjammer can be really frustrating. It takes a long time to get through the buffet line and even longer to find somewhere to sit down to eat the food, that is now cold on your tray. During the promenade parades you will want to get there early and stay at the front of the crowd lining the walkway or you won’t see much. The elevators were jammed sometimes, but we walked the stairs to try to work off some of the food we were indulging ourselves with.
Embarkation was a total mess. We are “non-US citizens” so we had to join the throng in the dining room to present ourselves to customs. Because we had to be out of our cabins by 8:00 am we had to take all our bags with us (carryons, shopping bags, etc. etc.). We got out of the elevator on the 3rd deck and found ourselves in the midst of a mass of people going nowhere. The doors to the dining room hadn’t even been opened yet. Once they started letting people in they were coming from all directions, down stairs, up stairs, through halls on the other side, so those of us who had been standing in the middle of mass confusion for about 40 minutes couldn’t even move. Once inside the process was very quick. There just has to be a better way. Perhaps calling people alphabetically, or by decks, anything to cut down on the number of people trying to cram in at the same time. Of course once it was done there were people being called to come down because the ship couldn’t be cleared until they showed up. This has happened to us all three times we’ve cruised. I think next time we will be the ones showing up after everyone else is done. We left our staterooms at 8:30 after having a quick breakfast of danishes & coffee in the Café Promenade and didn’t get off the ship until 12:25. Then we took the shuttle bus to the terminal building. We had white luggage tags, and were on the bus with people with all different colours so I don’t know what the point was of having the first colour. Then of course there were a mass of people all trying to find luggage with all different colour tags, and get out at the same time. The whole thing just made a very bad ending to what was an almost perfect cruise, which is really a shame. After getting up at 7:00 am and being out of our staterooms since 8:30 we didn’t get on the road till 1:15pm. It wasn’t a very good way to start the 9 hour drive home.
Overall we had a fabulous time. The Voyager is changing to a European itinerary so we are sailing out of Cape Liberty again next Sept., but on the Explorer of the Seas. I hope some of the great crew we met will be on it instead of leaving with the Voyager.
My wife, children and I unfortunately booked a July 24 cruise from Cape Liberty, NJ to Bermuda on Voyager of the Seas. We never reached Bermuda, as Royal Caribbean altered the destination to St. John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. This decision was reached by the cruise line two days before departure. However, they chose not to make this information available to their passengers until the day of the cruise. Many learned of the change when arriving at the dock. Royal Caribbean ignored the situation entirely, not even offering to refund the considerable difference in port charges until the captain (who appeared clueless) was confronted by a few hundred irate passengers.
The balance of the trip was comprised of Royal Caribbean issuing standard letters to our staterooms disclaiming their liability. They did not issue any credits, refunds or apologies and did not respond to complaint letters I sent. Many passengers are now filing complaints with the Attorney General, Better Business Bureau, etc. And the cruise line has received much adverse publicity, but does not seem to care. All they care about is retaining every cent of the amount we paid them.BTW, cruises to Canada are priced at approximately 40% of cruises to Bermuda. Also, there was a couple scheduled to meet their family in Bermuda and be married on board. Royal Caribbean told them if they did not take the cruise to cold Canda they would lose all they had paid. Great customer service. Be warned. Royal Caribbean could care less about their customers. I hope their management gets exiled to St. John, New Brunswick in the middle of winter without coats ! Avoid Royal Caribbean at all costs.