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Ashley

Age: 20

Occupation:Student

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Voyager of the Seas

Sailing Date: December 22, 2002

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Seas
Sailing Date: December 22nd, 2002

Having previously cruised on RCI's Explorer of the Seas, my parents and my younger sister really wanted to do it again! Their experience on the Explorer was their first with RCI and they were very impressed after their March 2001 cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. They didn't stop talking about it which made me feel slightly (only a little) guilty that I wasn't with them. I opted to go to Europe that year but when I came back I was thrilled with the sights I had seen but felt that I had missed out on the largest ship in the world. I saw their pictures (and the ship is beautiful) and I was jealous! So, as a family we decided to book the Christmas 2002 cruise on the Voyager! Of course, now I felt like I got the best deal out of anyone.

We flew to Miami a day early which turned out to be a very good plan. I recommend Sheraton Biscayne Bay to anyone who travels down a couple days early. It's a very nice hotel with spectacular views of the ships in port. We got to see a Norwegian Cruise Liner. I'm not sure of the name. We also got to see the Explorer leave on Saturday evening (my family was thrilled to see her again) and we believe the other ship was either Mariner or Navigator. With the Norwalk virus in its prime on cruise ships, we were ever so slightly worried that it was the Voyager getting pulled in early because of it and that our cruise would be cancelled (Yikes!). Of course, everything was fine and we ended up being very impressed with the health and safety measures taken to prevent the spread of any germs on the ship.

We had fabulous weather from day one. High eighties and sometimes even into the low nineties with humidity which surprised me for a Christmas cruise. I was delighted. It was a bit windy at first and we had one day with showers but for the most part, we sailed under blue skies in ideal temps.

I'm not sure who was the most excited in our group. I was looking forward to my first cruise with RCI and my family was looking forward to re-living theirs and being on an Eagle class ship once again. Having previously cruised with Royal Olympic on the very small but cultural World Renaissance, I was amazed by the size of Voyager as we drove to the port. She dwarfed the bridge that crossed into the port area. The pictures just don't do it justice. It truly is massive! Her size was a relief to me because I worried about seasickness. I encountered some "troubled" times on smaller vessels and worried that this seven day cruise might be spent in the bathroom. Of course, I was wrong. Voyager is so big that she doesn't really sway at all. The waters were calm for most of the cruise and the only motion we felt was a vibrating motion and a little bit of shaking (very slight) as Voyager cut through some larger waves. It was comforting feeling, not at all sickness-inducing. I slept like a baby. However, my parents and my sister claimed that on their cruise on Explorer in the Eastern Caribbean, they felt nothing at all.

We got on the ship on deck 4, crossing the outdoor promenade. After stopping for pictures, we went up the enclosed walkway and on to the ship. It's funny because the Voyager is so grand that as soon as you come on board you say "Are we on the ship yet?" because it doesn't seem like one! My first thoughts were of a fancy hotel in a big city. Voyager is classy and it is very easy to forget that all the amenities and activities taking place, are actually on a moving vessel. Since Voyager is very similar to Explorer, the rest of my group knew their way around quite nicely. They pointed out small differences in the two ships and began comparing. I didn't listen. For me, Voyager was the only ship in the world and I was quickly falling in love with her.

We occupied two rooms on Deck 7. My sister and I shared an Atrium stateroom and our parents were right across the hall in a Deluxe Balcony stateroom, almost identical to the one they had on Explorer. The atrium rooms are small but comfortable. Just enough space for two people. I think three might be a little uncomfortable. The decor is nice and there is adequate storage space. The closets are excellent but there just aren't enough drawers! We stored our suitcases under our beds (they fit perfectly) and as we accumulated more and more items and souvenirs, things got a little crowded....but we're both messy so that was the number one problem. Everything is secured down in the stateroom. The atrium rooms come with two couches, one that sits right in front of the window so you can look down on the people passing below you on the royal promenade. We liked deck 7 because it was the middle deck for atrium rooms and provided the best view of below. Not too close and not too far. The sound wasn't usually an issue. The parades were loud but other than that, we heard nothing from the promenade. The bathrooms are small but well thought out. The shower was the most impressive with it's circular setup and it's sliding glass doors. You have to see it to appreciate it. It's a great space saver and absolutely no water gets on the floor. On World Renaissance, the regular shower curtain....all my clothes got wet when the ship was rolling even slightly. The bathroom on that ship was bigger though! Beware, the toilet is very noisy when it is flushed. It can scare you at night.

For me, room size is not an issue. We were comfortable, the rooms are probably close to the nicest at sea and we were in a great location. For those who are looking for balcony or atrium rooms decks 6-8 or balcony rooms deck 9-10, I recommend either being forward (where we were) or aft because it can be quite a hike in the middle to get to the elevators (located in the forward and aft centrums of course!). Of course, this walk isn't very significant but if you're picky, front and back are your best bets. There is also good variety on TV. You can access your personal accounts and watch classic TV. I even got to watch ER reruns every single night!

The deluxe stateroom is very nice as well. There is more space than in the atrium rooms and it is done in pastel colours. Very light and airy, the room is comfortable and desirable. The balconies are a good size. They don't feel crammed and are ideal for two people sitting at a time but all four of us were out there often. We were on the port side so we had great views of other ships and the places we were about to visit! On the subject of staterooms, I must also mention that the corridors themselves are quite impressive. Artwork decorates the walls and the colour scheme is very nice. Although there are only rooms (and the library) on these floors, the walk is still nice!

Okay....the rest of the ship. Voyager really is what they say she is. Even down to the little details, she's spectacular. The main areas are incredible. I will begin with the Royal Promenade as it is really the heart of the ship. There are several stores selling cruise and evening wear as well as the logo store. There are perfume shops, sports and traditional English pubs, it just goes on and on. It really is one word: awesome. The cruise customer relations desk is located at the end of the promenade as well as the Champagne bar and the top level of the dining room. My favourite parts of the promenade were the café which provided cookies, coffee, tea, baked items, sandwiches and drinks and the self-serve ice cream machine. You can make your very own cones! The cruise wear store sold some very nice things making it my favourite place, along with the logo store, to shop. There are parades, activities, sidewalk sales....you name it....it's in the promenade!

While the promenade bustled with activity day and night, the solarium was an often quiet retreat. I say "often" because on our cruise there were around 1200 kids....and that is not one word of a lie. The kids ran rampant through the ship, playing in the elevators and wreaking havoc where they shouldn't have been. The solarium was one of these places. It is a gorgeous spot with a crystal clear pool with fountains but it is restricted to 16 years and over.....yet somehow.....kids were everywhere. That is one complaint I had with this cruise. The rules in the solarium were not enforced and parents did not do a good job keeping an eye on their children. Several times we had to get out of an elevator because their were about ten kids inside who pushed all the buttons! The solarium was my favourite place to go and relax but sometimes, it just wasn't possible.

I didn't get to the main pool very often. I was in love with the solarium despite the children so I steered away from the almost as nice larger pool area. The pool wasn't overcrowded but it was very hard to get a deck chair in any area. Get up early and sleep up there if you must! It's worth getting a chair. Otherwise, you have to wait and take turns being on a "stakeout" to get the next available chair. Watching some people do this was actually quite funny.....when I already had my chair. We met some very nice people who were understanding and offered us their chairs as they went for lunch unlike others who just kept their towels there and left for hours at a time. Argh!

The three story dining room is amazing. We had a table on the third floor, "Magic Flute", which is on Deck 5. "La Boheme" was the second story on deck 4 and "Carmen" on deck 3. We had the early seating which I didn't like as much as the later one. I always felt rushed to go to dinner. However, the captain did eat at this seating several times and everything was always fresh and ready to go on time. Our waiter, Daniel, was great. He exceeded my expectations the very first night and was very funny. We had a table for eight but one seat was always empty. The food was excellent and there was a great variety of choices. The lobster and the steak were fabulous.

Other dining options are available on Voyager. We enjoyed the Windjammer Café but never made it to Portofinos. Windjammer offers a lot of different items and the quality is pretty good. My only complaint, if it can be called one, is that it smelled of formaldehyde. This was a good thing though....we knew everything was sparkling clean. This smell I'm sure was a temporary deal as the Norwalk was causing some uproar at this time. Johnny Rockets was great. We went several times. The burgers and onion rings are the best and they do have a good milkshake. This was a popular spot for lunch for my sister and I.....oh and for midnight snacks too!

My parents enjoyed all the bars, the Champagne bar being their most popular retreat. They went every night before dinner for cocktails and then went back again afterwards. The Aquarium bar is quite unique but I only went there once or twice. The schooner bar was probably the largest on board and provided a nice, relaxing atmosphere. The Viking Crown lounge, I think it was called High Notes, was one of the nicest places. I think this was my parent's favourite of all. They liked dancing there. High Notes, on deck 14, produces an incredible view of the ship, the vistas surrounding it and a variety of music.

I don't have much to say about the casino except that it's great. I played slots and won once but lost a whole bunch of times. My parents were very impressed with the casinos on both Explorer and Voyager.

La Scala Theatre is huge! I was so surprised. Burgundy and purple are the colour themes and the curtain is very elegant....really a show in itself. The first show we saw was "Dreamscape" which ended up being my favourite. The dancers and singers are fabulous and they really give a great show. "Rhythm and Rhyme" was the other show and was impressive as well. The Krooze Komics did the pre-shows and strolled the promenade showing off their crazy antics. There is an ice rink on board as well! Studio B. We didn't get a chance to go skating but we did see a holiday show and another competition-type show. The skaters are very talented and manage to do a professional show in a tight space. Very impressive.

The elevators on Voyager are really "cool". I think that's why there were so many kids riding in them 24/7. There are eight elevators in the aft centrum, four of which are glass and provide a view of the promenade! There are six in the forward centrum. Two are glass. Now if the glass elevators aren't "cool" enough then the fact that the elevators talk will make it so. As you go from deck to deck, there is a voice that tells you which deck you are on and whether you are going up or going down. It's a little thing but it provided much amusement. Another "cool" feature was the telephone in the room. It doesn't make the tradition ringing noise.....it took us a couple days to realize the noise was the phone!

The crew on the Voyager were excellent. I was absolutely amazed by how many of them really wanted us to have a great time. Their smiles are genuine and they do everything they can to make your day pleasant. Every time you run into a crew member, they always greet you and make sure you know where you are going or you have what you need. It is nice to be spoiled. Captain Petterson was great. He did many announcements over the PA system and talked to many, many passengers. He even waited about three hours before leaving Cozumel for a family who missed their transfer back to the ship.

Voyager's itinerary is relaxed. There are usually four ports of call but for us there were three because of one day being Christmas day. We skipped Ocho Rios on our cruise. We did, however, spend an amazing day in Labadee. Christmas eve was about thirty some degrees and perfectly sunny. Labadee's many beaches called. It really is like a tropical paradise. The water is beautiful and there are even some shopping opportunities on this RCI owned island. My family was there on the Explorer so they didn't want to stay as long as I did. They did mention that their second trip to Labadee was much nicer than their first. Georgetown, Grand Cayman was the second port of call. Lots of shopping! It rained a bit so we didn't stay long at the beach but we did hit the shops for a couple hours and they have quite a variety of places to go. Cozumel, Mexico was the last port of call and we chose to do the Dolphin encounter excursion. It was incredible....one of the best experiences of the entire cruise. We got to swim with the dolphins and have our pictures taken. I highly recommend the excursion. In the same package you get access to the Chaankanaab national park. There are many walking trails and aquariums. It is a nice place to spend the afternoon.

All in all, the cruise was great. Voyager is spectacular in every way and I have very few complaints. This cruise was a great introduction to RCI and I can't wait to do it again. The rest of my family is STILL comparing the Voyager to the Explorer and talking about how much they love cruising. All my worries about seasickness were dashed the first night onboard and we all had a great time. Voyager is big, classy, exciting and inviting. It seems ironic that my family has been twice and here I am writing the review.....well, I guess cruising is contagious!

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