Number of Cruises: 58
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Voyager of the Seas
Sailing Date: October 22nd, 2004
Itinerary: 8-Day Caribbean
I just disembarked from the VOYAGER OF THE SEAS yesterday. The 8-day cruise began on October 22, 2004 from the new Royal Caribbean terminal in Bayonne, NJ (Cape Liberty) and ending in Miami. In between were only two ports, Labadee, Haiti (RCI's private beach) and Aruba. We also spent 3-days in NY prior to the cruise which was a lot of fun. I had the pleasure of meeting up in the Village with a fellow ship enthusiast who frequents the cruise boards as well a wonderful friend whom I met onboard QM2 in May.
It's been almost five years since I've sailed on a Voyager Class ship, and in fact it was VOYAGER OF THE SEAS when she was only a few months old. I was impressed with the ship back then and wrote a review at the time. You can read it from this link if you like. http://www.sealetter.com/Mar-00/voy1900.html
So how is VOYAGER holding up five years later? I would say very well! The ship itself is truly stunning and I'm once again convinced the Voyager Class is the best thing sailing in the contemporary 7-day market. Nothing really compares from a hardware perspective, not even QM2. I bring up QM2 only because she was my last cruise and because she overtook the "world's largest" title from the Voyager Class. VOYAGER's overall design, quality of materials, art, amenities, innovations, layout, etc. are truly unmatched. I'll even go as far to suggest that VOYAGER offers an overall superior design to QM2. VOYAGER just works, and very well. I still prefer QM2 overall, but only because I'm enamored by her "ocean liner" feel, quirky qualities, uniqueness, and spaciousness. Of course QM2 is designed for the luxury market as opposed to mass-market, so the fact I can even compare VOYAGER to QM2 speaks very highly of VOYAGER.
I'll admit there were times that VOYAGER felt crowded, but for the most part only in elevators at peak times and when a show let out. Otherwise the ship is designed so well that I never had to wait in buffet lines or had trouble getting a deck chair, even at peak times. Food and service were quite good for a 3000+ passenger ship. We dined with friends in the Carmen Dining room (first level) during the second sitting. I was quite pleased with the food, presentation, and service. To be honest I'm pretty easy to please, and I don't find the food and service on these massive mega-ships to be that different, regardless of the cruise line. The buffet also had a decent selection and as I mentioned earlier I never had to wait in line which was a plus. I didn't try Portofino's this time as I was quite satisfied with the food in the dining room. We did eat twice at Johnny Rocket's, and on both occasions we experienced great food and service (if you like excellent hamburgers and fries). There is currently no charge for Johnny Rocket's (except for drinks), but this is changing as soon Royal Caribbean will implement a charge. Frankly I don't mind as I would rather pay the $3.95 service fee to decrease the wait times. Johnny Rocket's was one place where there were long lines, and this was not the case five years ago when Royal Caribbean had a charge in place.
Entertainment was top notch. There were three production shows and of course the ice skating show not to mention two parades and the usual bands and singers. Was I jaded after seeing the ice show five years ago? No way! It was incredible and completely redesigned. It's by far the best form of entertainment I've seen on any ship. Not to be missed! The other shows were quite good as well, as good if not better than shows I've seen on other mega-ships. I've never paid much attention to the cruise director on any of my past cruises, and in fact I couldn't even begin to tell you what their names are. I do think I will remember Richard Spacey, the CD onboard VOYAGER. He was quite entertaining, unusually young, and not bad to look at either! Probably the best CD I've come across yet. Be sure to watch some of the entertaining videos he has put together, such as "24 hours in the life of a cruise director", and his skit that is shown prior to his entrance during the farewell show. They are not to be missed.
We were lucky to be assigned a wheelchair accessible balcony cabin on Deck 7. This cabin is about the same size as a Junior Suite, but in category E2 (standard balcony). It was huge as was the bathroom and double size balcony. Needless to say we quite enjoyed it. Stateroom service was very good, and we had a husband/wife housekeeping team which was rather unique.
Weather was good although the last two days were cloudy with a few showers. It was my first time in Aruba and I hope to return someday. I was pleasantly surprised by this non-typical Caribbean island. Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private beach on the island of Haiti is looking better than ever. RCI has invested a fair bit of capital and resources into the beach and it shows. A big improvement over five years ago.
I can't leave out the most important aspect of this great cruise, and that was the people. I was lucky enough to be joined by a couple of friends met on previous cruises, and also had the pleasure of meeting many new friends. About 20 of us were communicating prior to the cruise on a message board, and we almost felt like we knew each other before we even met. These types of acquaintances don't always work out as expected, but thankfully that was not the case on this cruise. We all got along famously and had many, many laughs, great times ..... and many, many drinks together! It was great fun and I hope to cruise with this group again. You all know who you are.
I hate dragging my camera around, so I didn't get too many people pictures. Hopefully I'll add some once pictures turn up from others in the group that did carry their camera around (thank you!!). I did tour the ship one afternoon when most passengers were ashore and took pictures of just about every area of the ship. VOYAGER is such an attractive and innovative ship, I felt a photo tour was worthwhile. As it turns out, I took 217 photos and they take up 14 pages on my photo site. Have a look if you are interested at the following link. If you are planning to cruise on VOYAGER they will give you a great idea of what the ship looks like. I also tried to capture a few areas that you don't see everyday. I hope you enjoy them.
In closing I would not hesitate to sail on a Voyager Class ship and Royal Caribbean in the future. Royal Caribbean offers a rock solid product on the most innovative ships afloat. Because the ships are so innovative and attractive, I would put Royal Caribbean a notch higher than Carnival, Princess, and NCL ... it's closest competitors. I found food and service to be a tad bit better on Carnival, but superior to recent cruises on Princess and especially NCL. Of course food and service are subjective and tend to vary from ship to ship, so your experience and opinions may differ which is fine.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.