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Marita Opperman

Age: 52

Occupation:Business Owner

Number of Cruises: 10

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Voyager of the Seas

Sailing Date: November 14th, 2006

Itinerary: Trans-Atlantic

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas Cruise Review

Marita Opperman

This was our second westward transatlantic crossing, and our first cruise on such a huge ship like the Voyager. Unlike many other co-passengers, we did not hesitate to cross the Atlantic on a mega-ship.

Our arrival: Our smooth flight with Air Berlin from Düsseldorf to Barcelona took about 2 hours. We had no problems with the luggage weight limitations we had been worried about the weeks before. On arrival in Barcelona, some RCCL service staff took care of our luggage, and we had to wait for the shuttle bus to take us to the pier in about 30 minutes.

At the cruise terminal, the counters were not open yet, we were a bit early. At about 10.30 am, they opened the counters and we were able to check in very quickly, because we had already done the online check-in at home on our computer. At 11 am, we were allowed to enter the ship, and then we started to explore this to us new ship until our cabin was ready for us at 1 pm.

Our cabin (#1655, inside, deck 10) was not what I would call huge or spacious, however, the furniture and the new bedding in green-turquoise colors had a very inviting appeal. Closets and hangers were adequate. A small sofa and a glass table, a chair and a writing table completed the furnishing. I could do without the refrigerator in order to have more space for the clothes. We had a safe in one closet and 110V and 220V power outlets. The bathroom was small but practical, with a shower cubicle instead of a shower curtain (which I hate). Thus, there were no unpleasant contacts with a curtain. In the mirrored wall cabinet and under the sink there was enough space for our personal belongings. Our feeling was that the bathroom was smaller than on other ships. Instead, the hallways were wider than normal, in order for passengers with wheelchairs or baby buggies to be able to leave those outside the cabin.

The new bedding gets lots of approval everywhere; however, I have a different opinion here. First of all I asked our stateroom attendant to separate the beds, so that we would obtain more space to get in and out of the beds. Thus, we got separate coverlets and avoided the nightly struggles other passengers had. But after one night, I had to ask the stateroom attendant again to do me a favor and get me a good old blanket, because the new coverlet was too heavy for me. But my husband Uwe loved them and many others loved them, too.

What can I tell you about the Voyager that has not already been told by others many times before? She has adequate space in the public areas, a Windjammer Café with two sections and the Island Grill at the end with large panoramic windows and wonderful views over the sea. We would have appreciated an open terrace as part of the restaurant like, e.g., on the Radiance Class ships, to sit and enjoy breakfast and lunch outside, weather permitting.

The Dining Room extends over three decks, all furnished in different colors and according to different opera themes, deck 5 Magic Flute, deck 4 La Boheme, and deck 3 Carmen. The loudness level was relatively low, what I really appreciated. We did not have dinner in the Portofino, because unfortunately I got sick, but other passengers told me about the high quality we missed.

Like on all other RCCL ships, the stairways were decorated with wonderful art, in some areas with huge tapestries or marble sculptures. The Voyager has two elevator banks: one forward with 4 elevators on each side of the ship, ending close to the theater and Studio B or on deck 11 near the fitness area, and one at the aft, close to the restaurants and bars. The fitness center is well equipped and is also home to the only roofed Jacuzzi on the ship. The other Jacuzzis and the whole solarium are not roofed, which is what I prefer.

Bars, lounges, cafés: On several decks there are various lounges, which I found more or less appealing. The center of the ship is of course the Royal Promenade on deck 5. We did not fancy the bars along this promenade, but they were important for the smokers on board. Instead, we preferred the Café Promenade, a meeting point for many people on the ship, with a 24-hour service with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, ice water, cookies, cakes, fresh fruit, and several snacks like pizzas and delicious sandwiches. The bar adjacent to the Café sells specialty coffees like espresso, cappuccino, etc. and also the famous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

On the same deck, across from the front desk, there is the very tastefully furnished Champagne Bar, and on deck 4 the Aquarium Bar--but they were always empty. Where were all those people in the evening? I have to admit that we prefer the atrium on the Radiance Class ships, where almost everyone has to pass on their way to the Dining Room, and where you can have a drink before or after dinner or dance to the music of the live bands.

The Schooner Bar is more like a passageway to the Casino, smaller than on the Radiance Class ships, and only frequented by people during some on-board activities like trivia. The elegant Connoisseur Club for (cigar) smokers is to be found in front of Cleopatra’s Needle, a bar where larger activities like the repeaters reception, bingo, and karaoke take place. Cleopatra’s Needle also features a smoking area to the left hand side. The stage has sufficient space for bands of 6 musicians, and people can dance on the dance floor.

On deck 14 there are several bars for various activities and events, like our Meet & Mingle party. Here, we were a bit disappointed with RCCL, because only a group coordinator came along with some cheap extras, and only fruit punch and lemonade were served. The same thing happened with the lunch for the Platinum and Diamond Members: Nobody from the management was there to say hello to the loyal RCCL guests, whereas the same reception on the Radiance had all management members including the Captain coming along and making small talk with the C&A members. Hello RCCL, wake up! Your loyal guests are expecting things like this, and I heard many complaints about it: mediocre lunch, cheap wine, no management staff...

Food: We always had breakfast in the Windjammer Café or the Island Grill, because we like to decide what and how much we want to eat, thus, we prefer a buffet to an a la carte restaurant. I had the impression that, in relation to the ship’s size and 2,700 passengers, there was less choice than on the Radiance. You had to check different stations to find what you were looking for. The choice of bread was definitely smaller, freshly prepared omelet's and eggs were only made when the Island Grill was open, and when it was closed, you only got the pre-prepared scrambled eggs.

We had lunch twice in the Windjammer Café, but were not very satisfied with the food quality. There was also a smaller selection, compared to the Radiance, and that is why we preferred having lunch in the Carmen Restaurant on deck 3, with the Brasserie 30 concept: two different menus that changed every day, daily changing special for the soup, appetizer, entree, and dessert. In addition, you also had the choice of different kinds of freshly prepared pasta. I guess that is the reason why the Dining Room attracted more people for lunch every day. The concept of freestyle seating--every day at a different table, every day with different people--is the concept we prefer for lunch, and we enjoyed wonderful and interesting table talks every time. That is something we warmly recommend to all people who love to lunch with perfect service and excellent food with some exceptional menus.

Dinner: We had a table for 12 on deck 5 in the Magic Flute Dining Room, with German speaking people only, some of them were not very pleasant and nagging every evening. The food quality was good to excellent--better than on the Radiance. There were only two flaws in the preparation, but only few surprises for guests who often travel with RCCL. Unfortunately, corporate identity for dinner is exaggerated, and when you see the menu covers, you will know what is offered on the inside. It is imperative for RCCL to think about their repeaters, because those regular guests would definitely appreciate a greater variation in the menus.

Special features on the ship include of course the Royal Promenade with several shops, but not more than on other ships. Some live events were held on the Promenade, like bands, artists and parades. Another special feature is of course the ice-skating ring Studio B on deck 3 forward. The ice show was presented there on several days, so every guest got the opportunity to see this really great performance. During the day, the ice ring was open to the public.

Another highlight was the In-Line Track on deck 14, for beginners padded on each side, fortunately. The miniature golf course is also on deck 14, but at some places covered with soot from the funnel. On deck 15 is the Skylight Chapel with a wonderful wall tapestry and a beautiful stained glass window.

A specialty restaurant can be found on deck 12, the famous Johnny Rockets, a typical hamburger restaurant. We had coupons for a free hamburger, but we did not visit it. On deck 11 outside forward you can look at a part of the bridge, called Peek-A-Boo.

On deck 7 and 8 there is the library, not very well sorted, but the Captain and the Hotel Director promised that they would get new books while in Miami. Besides, there are internet stations in this area of the ship.

A highlight is even Captain Gerry Larsson-Fedde and his live act in the pub, where he sang and played guitar, and also his live act during the farewell show in the theater.

Our fellow passengers: All in all 2,741 passengers were onboard this huge ship, with--of course the majority--1,025 passengers from the USA, followed by 614 British and 386 German passengers, 199 from Spain, 122 from Canada and 115 from The Netherlands. The remainder were people from 36 other nations, from Argentina to the Ukraine. 1,200 of all passengers were repeaters.

Weather: Barcelona: about 20 °C and sunshine. First day at sea: almost the same temperatures, but with increasing wind and more and higher waves. Lisbon: The decks were closed in the morning, we had stronger winds, and it was too dangerous outside. It got better in the afternoon after our midday arrival in Lisbon, the sun came out now and then, and temperatures were about 18 °C.

Second day at sea: On our way to the island of Madeira the weather was mixed, high waves of up to 12-15 feet, and temperature about 17 °C. The weather in Madeira was also mixed, but with more sunshine and higher temperatures of about 20 °C. The next and all the following sea days brought constantly increasing temperatures between 23 and 27 °C, you could stay outside, sit in a deck chair, and enjoy the fresh sea breeze.

Additional costs: Shuttle bus tickets in Lisbon and Funchal were 4 $ one way, i.e., for 2 persons, both ports, both directions a total of 32 $. At least in Funchal the centrum is in about 20 minutes walking distance. Cable car in Funchal up to Monte Mountain: for both directions per person 14,50 €, and the beautiful ride of about 15 minutes is worth the money. Combination ticket including entrance fee for the Botanical Garden and a museum, 22 € per person. Internet costs: 50 cent per minute, Gold Members get a 5 $ coupon, Platinum Members a 7.50 $ coupon.

Soda package: per person and day 6 $ plus 15 % service charge. You have to buy the package for the whole cruise, even if you buy it on the second day, you have to pay for the first day.
Rent a Smoking: 85 $, with shoes 97 $, sizes up to XXXL are available.

Ports of Call: In Lisbon we took the shuttle bus, and the ride was like a little sightseeing tour of the city. But we do not agree with the people who visited the city before and were enthusiastic about it. We found the city dirty and dilapidated, with a lot of security cameras all over the centrum and a huge police presence. Maybe we did not like the city because I was starting to get sick with bronchitis, and the weather was a mix of sunshine, cold winds, and a cloudy sky. However, we saw many other passengers coming back to the ship earlier than required, because they did not like the city either. Only St. Petersburg, which we visited 2 years ago, made a worse expression than Lisbon.

For Funchal/Madeira we also bought bus tickets, walked along the promenade to the cable car station, and had a wonderful view of the ship--with the small but elegant Sea Cloud II, a famous sailing boat, behind the huge Voyager. At the cable car station we bought our tickets and hopped on a cable car for 6-8 passengers. It is really worth it, so my recommendation is to get there early, because otherwise the lines in front of the ticket counter become very long--we saw that when we descended. After our return to Funchal we had a nice walk through the center of Funchal, including the famous market hall.

Ship's hospital: This was our first cruise where we had to visit the health center, because my bronchitis got worse every day and my husband also became sick. First I had to fill in 3 forms; they took my blood pressure, then some blood samples, and made some tests in the nose and in the pharynx. After establishing my bad blood results, I had to lie in a bed and got an infusion with antibiotics, besides I had to inhale some medicine for my bronchial tubes. I received the same treatment again in the afternoon and on the next morning, whereas Uwe got tablets for the following 10 days and some medicine for the night to stop the cough.

2 physicians and 3 nurses work in the hospital. The nurses are trained to do anesthesia, and minor surgeries are no problem for this crew. A modern x-ray machine and modern laboratory equipment are also available, as well as a pharmacy with medicine for various illnesses. It was really busy in the health center, because they also take care for the crew members.

Everything made an outstanding impression, but the shock came with the bill: For Uwe we had to pay about $500, and for me about $1,500. Let us see how our insurance company will respond to these costs. So, please remember: You need a good insurance for your cruises, don’t be too stingy.

Disembarkation: We got up very early, about 5 am, because we wanted to be on deck to see the ship arriving in Miami. We had breakfast and left our cabin at 7.30 am. As Platinum Members we were allowed to wait in the Dining Room until our tag number was called at 8 am, which was very fast. It took us 45 minutes to get through immigration and another 20 minutes to wait for our luggage, because one luggage belt was blocked.

We had no problem getting the shuttle bus to the airport. The counters were closed and we had to wait for another hour to check in our luggage. We entered the security area early enough and had to take off our jackets, shoes, sweaters, vests. Our flight back to Germany was good, no problems during the night flight to Frankfurt and then on to Düsseldorf the next morning.

Conclusion: We really like the Voyager, yet our favorite ship class is still the Radiance Class. The Voyager was in better shape than expected, and the food was better than on the Radiance in May. However, having traveled a lot with RCCL, it would be nice to have more variation in the menus, as I already mentioned in previous reviews. Many repeaters are getting the same food based on the same recipes on all RCCL ships; we only noticed some subtle changes in preparation on the Voyager, but they could do better for the repeaters. We love the Brasserie concept for lunch in the Dining Room, and the choice is adequate for 10-12 days. I would like to point out that also the service and the Dining Room staff are so much better with this concept, compared to the service we had on the Splendour during our transatlantic crossing last year. Only on the Radiance we had previously enjoyed such an excellent service by waiters who were not our regular waiters during dinner. The waiters on the Voyager were very attentive and served, for example, new sodas before the first glass was empty, or offered more of the delicious bread.

The production shows were not the best, too many old musical hits, not very modern. What makes a production a good production? Watch “City of Dreams”, we saw this show with modern songs and some acrobatic acts on the Jewel and the Radiance, and it was excellent. The guest entertainers American Drifters and Jonathan Kane were very good, however, we had already seen the other entertainers on other ships and, unfortunately, there was no improvement. RCCL promote that their passengers are getting younger and younger, but they do not respond to that with modern shows and younger entertainers. Maybe some of the 70+ passengers like the current productions, but we--and many others we spoke to--do not. We saw many people leaving the shows, so we did too.

We can recommend the Voyager to everyone--singles, couples, families. The 68 children onboard were mostly invisible, since most of them took part in the children’s programs. The Voyager is the perfect ship for not-so-perfect weather, because everywhere there are places to read, to relax, to play, to skate, and to watch. I believe that even with a higher passenger capacity, the Voyager will never be overcrowded and everybody will find what he or she likes.

Translation kindly supported by Susanne Wurster/Göteborg-Sweden

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