With our trip originating in San Diego, we availed ourselves of RCL's Air/Sea program. We were traveling with another couple from the San Diego area. Upon meeting them at the airport and checking our cruise voucher booklets we discovered that we had been booked into different hotels for our stay in Miami the night before the cruise. We anticipated that this error would be taken care of by RCL personnel when we landed. Unfortunately, we were unable to get them to rebook us in the same hotel and aren't sure to this day who made the mistake, RCL or our travel agent.
We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Downtown Miami and the hotel was nice. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant that evening and the food and service was average. The next morning we were preboarded at the hotel by RCL staff. This included issuing us our SuperCharge card/cabin key. The process went quickly and we were pleasantly surprised that we would not have a long wait in line at the terminal as we have experienced with past cruises. However, the wait for the buses used to transfer guests fromthe hotel to the terminal was unbearably long. It appeared that RCL did not have enough busses ready to board what seemed to be a couple of hundred people or more.
Having sailed previously on two of RCL's ships, we were expecting a lot. Upon arrival at the terminal and seeing Voyager in person for the first time we were awed by its size. The Enchantment was in port that day as well and it appeared to be dwarfed by Voyager's gigantic presence. Since we were preboarded at the hotel,we went through the security check and proceeded to an escalator to the second floor of the terminal to board the ship. With dozens of passengers on a narrow escalator carrying suitcases, etc. it seemed like an accident waiting to happen, and it did. So many people were arriving at the top of the escalator at once that the ones coming up behind them were forced to push people over like dominos. Security had to stop the escalator to avoid any serious injuries. This very serious safety issue needs to be resolved by terminal authorities before someone is badly injured. Other than the escalator incident,the new terminal is beautifully designed, very open and airy and seems to be laid out very efficiently. The boarding process in general was a good experience.
Once aboard, we were awed by this vessel. The Grand Promenade is spectacular and the shops excellent. The exercise equipment on board is all state of the art (although we never found the time to use it). The three tiered dining room takes your breath away and the La Scala theatre is magnificent. Actually everything aboard this ship is state of the art. They even have thier own radio and TV studio!
Our cabin was aft and was very nice. It has a huge balcony,one of several to the rear of the ship. From our balcony we were able to see both the port and starboard sides of the ship when we were sailing or in port. This was a nice touch and the cabin was the nicest we have had to date.
We were seated at second seating in the Carmen dining room. Our table waiter Emme from Hungary was very good although not as good as the ones were had on previous cruises. His assistant from Rumania was good also. However,the head waiter was truly a dissapointment. He introduced himself briefly on the first night and we really never saw him again until the night before gratuities were to be extended. On that night he was overly attentive and pleasant,although you could see it was an act. We deduced that he may have been "fishing" for a larger tip.
The food was average at best and not up to RCL's usual fare. One thing that we sorely missed were the flaming deserts and all the fanfare that goes along with them. This ship had none. The food on the rest of the ship ranged from below average to average and although we could not classify any of it as poor, it did come close at times. A real dissapointment was room service. We ordered breakfast one morning using the menu that you place on your cabin door knob. When breakfast didn't arrive for almost 45 minutes past the time we had indicated I called down to find out what was wrong. I was told they had too many other passengers to serve. After another 15 minutes I called again, this time I was told they had lost our order and would take a new one over the phone. About 15 minutes later our breakfast arrived but it was cold and so was the coffee. Five minutes later someone was knocking at our cabin door. We opened it to find a second breakfast order had been delivered. This one was a least hotter than the first one had been.
Another dissapointment was our cabin attendant. When we arrived on board we found that our cabin had not yet been cleaned completely and had to wait to put our things away until she finished cleaning it. On previous cruises our cabin attendants always did cute things with towels and pillows on our bed but on this cruise our cabin attendant did nothing. It was very difficult to find her to get a bucket of ice and we had to wait, wait, wait, for everything. One day we needed towels and couldn't find her. We noticed that the linen storage area was just across the hall from our cabin and the door was slightly ajar so we went to help ourselves. When we opened the door there was our cabin attendant curled up at the bottom of the closet trying to sleep. We woke her up, she did apologize.
Many of the 'features and amenities' RCL uses to attract passengers to the Voyager are extra cost items. You will pay to use the ice skating rink, the rock climbing wall, even the miniature golf course. In addition, if you choose to dine at the Portofino restaurant it will cost you an additional $8 a person. While RCL wants you to feel you are getting more on this ship you will also be paying for everything you decide to use.
The ports of call were fun, especially Jamaica. Since I had been to the island eleven times in the past, I knew where to go. So, we rented a large spacious van and the four of us drove to Montego Bay and had lunch at the Half Moon. It was a very pleasant day. In Labadee,everyone spends the day at the beach and it is a very relaxing affair. However, I must warn you not to even go near the few shops and the vendors on the so called "private island". To say that the vendors are agressive is an understatement. You start at one end of this large building and you walk through a gauntlet of the most discusting, vile, and agressive vendors I have ever experienced. The smell in there is horrendous. RCL should be more careful about who they allow to sell in this area. Absolutely one of the most nauseating experiences I have ever had and I have visited several third world countries. I just kept trying to convince myself that these are poor people trying to make a meager living and I was able to brush it off as an experience. Cozumel was very nice and we decided to go shopping for a piece of diamond jewelry. We were told by the ship's staff that this was one of the best Caribbean ports to buy gemstones. We found that none of the shopkeepers would answer our questions about diamonds. We couldn't get a straight answer about the grading of the stones,certification, etc. Needless to say we left without buying any gemstones.
In summation, the Voyager is a very nice ship and it is one that every cruiser should experience at least once. Would we go again, possibly, if the price and timing were right. However, we missed the intimacy that a smaller ship provides and came away from the whole experience feeling somewhat cold. We felt the ship was way too big and took away much of the crusing experience for us. We plan on booking our next cruise on a smaller ship that delivers better food and better service. Will it be on an RCL ship? There is a very good possiblity of that since RCL has always provided excellent service and food on past cruises.
I got to eat lunch on the Voyager of the Seas by Royal Carribean and let me tell you folks VOYAGER is the most awesome ship you have ever seen in your entire life. I have been on the Grand Princess and Destiny before, which were the biggest ships ever built before the Voyager and this ship is so spectacular you wouldnt believe it!
Glass domes everywhere and a lot of pyramid glass shapes and statues all over. High Ceilings and Lots of splashy bright colors not before seen on Royal Caribbean. SPACE is abundant and the dining room and theater are amazingly spacious and beautiful. The entire ship is so wonderful you wouldnt want to leave!
This vessel is by far the most beautiful and best designed ship I have sailed on. Pictures and video clips that I have seen cannot show the views I experienced. I can also say that I have not yet found the words to describe this floating city. May I also add that I never felt overwhelmed by the size of the ship. It's layout was very easy to navigate and I was able to master my way around within the first day. Of course a new ship is not without some areas that the crew and staff are still trying to perfect. More about that later, as this is to be expected for a third sailing of a new ship.
EMBARKATION: RCI still needs to master this procedure. I talked to many passengers that waited up to three hours to board the ship. The VIP desk for Crown and Anchor diamond members however reduced this time to fifteen minutes.
CABINS: Well what does one expect? Yes, they are small. We had Cat. D9 superior ocean view with private balcony. Yes, the balcony was indeed private. Though the cabin was just slightlylarger than a standard inside cabin, we had no trouble making it work. Just enough room for everything.
ROYAL PROMENADE: Measuring 1and1/2 football fields long this was the focal point of the ship. From snacks to shopping, scheduled entertainment, sports bar and upper casino. I have only one word for this area. Intoxicating, no not in the literal sense, I'll save the other for the Vault.
DINNING ROOMS: Three level dinning room, the Carmen/La Boheme/Magic Flute. Decorated beautifully with walnut finished furniture and woodwork. We experience excellent service here. I suppose this was why I decided not to switch to the 2nd seating I originally requested. Our waiter also was quick to point out the best choice for the evening as well as the dishes that have been experiencing difficulties. The entrees for the most part were very good, but soups were cold and the dinner did take up to much time for my attention span. I must also say that I don't care for the open breakfast and lunch seating. I would have preferred to be at my table with our waiter. This service was the only one provided at sea as well, as while in port.
OTHER DINNING: Windjammer and Island Grill. Excellent design, it was very easy to fill ones plate and find a comfortable place to sit. My first visit here was the last. I went for breakfast and found that the food was, "not edible" would be putting it nicely. This was also later confirmed by other passengers. Johnny Rockets. Long lines kept me from this restaurant. It is my understanding that they will begin charging for food here come the first of the year due to its popularity. Room service. Or lack thereof. They have a real problem here. It is being delivered to the wrong cabins. 24 hr. pizzeria? great pie but why do they close at 4 am.
MAIN THEATER: The La Scala. Very good production shows and special guest appearances. I was more impressed with the theaters on the Sovereign Class Ships.
CASINO: For those that like slots, this casino is jam packed with them. Gaming tables include caribbean poker, roulette, craps and blackjack. Lady luck didn't shine down on me here. However, a little casual play was in the budget. One other note, the ten dollar minimum at the blackjack tables is no cheap date. If you search hard you can find a fun dealer with a smile but many have left their personalities at the door.
STUDIO B, CENTER ICE: Located on deck 3, this area doubles as an ice skating rink and RCTV television studio. When not being used for some of the video productions still being taped for the cruise lines advertisements it hosts some spectacular professional ice shows. It also was used for some of the new passenger game shows that the cruise staff have come up with. The new games were both unique and exciting. This does appear a lot larger on television than in person. I estimate the skating area to be about 40'x60'. I still cant believe the excellent skating considering the size.
THE VAULT: This disco does deserve special recognition. This is only because it is thoroughly soundproofed. The entrance to this area is gained through a pair of doors with a neutral zone in-between. This is so that when the disco door opens, it closes before one enters the disco through the second door. Considering its close proximity to the Schooner Bar, it never did intrude on anyone else's enjoyment. I have to also mention that to open the doors, you placed the palm of your hand on a switch that resembled something from Star Trek. A little corny but fun.
OTHER LOUNGES: There are also many other public lounges to meet everyone's needs. From the piano bar to the jazz bar and from some more intimate lounges as well as those designed for people watching. I chose the later and met a lot of new friends that made the cruise that much more enjoyable. I met people from all around the world and well, just had fun!
POOL DECK: This would be the only area of the ship that seemed small. It was cluttered with the stage for the band that played pool side and when walking around one also got stuck in a bottle neck. The Solarium pool seemed like the place for the older crowd. It looked comfortable but wasn't this cruisers style. Also no dome on it for rainy days.
CRUISE STAFF: They have been very busy fine tuning everything. This being a 3 sea day cruise I felt that they did not provide enough activities, however they did try. I did have a drink one evening with our cruise director Jeff Martin. He did agree that their are many areas that need improvement and that his staff as well as all other departments are working hard to make the changes that are needed. I was also impressed that during the ice show the final night Jeff remembered me and addressed me by name. How they can do that with 3500 people on board I'll never know. Jeff's assistant Ricardo is full of excitement and one can tell he sincerely loves what he does. I wouldn't be surprised if he is promoted to cruise director in the near future.
BAR SERVERS: These are the guys and girls that seldom get the recognition they deserve. Well, people, they make the cruise an enjoyable experience. Over nine servers remembered me from cruises dating back well over 5 yrs. At many of the bars I could not buy a drink all week. I will not mention them as not to get anyone in jeopardy with their job but drinks were plentiful and free.
OTHER ACTIVITIES They included shore excursions, miniature golf, inline skating as well as a golf simulator. I did not use any of these but I am sure they were enjoyed by those who did.
IN SHORT: I enjoyed everything about this cruise. One does need to remember that the cruise lines are now offering so many things to do that one must understand that you can no longer do everything. You have to choose if you would rather be a part of the pool games or see the ice show. With this attitude you can rest assured you'll have fun.