Occupation:collection agency owner
Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Voyager of the Seas
Sailing Date: November 27th, 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
We just finished our second cruise with Royal Caribbean. Our first time was two years ago on Explorer of the Seas, but this time we wanted the Eastern Caribbean so we took the Voyager of the Seas. We traveled with 20 friends/family members. We all arrived via airplanes because we had different flight arrangements. Our flight arrived in Fort Lauderdale, however we needed to leave from Port of Miami. We didn't realize that we had transfers in our Royal Caribbean portfolio (the small spiral bound book). The book came from our travel agent. Since there were 20 members traveling, I found it much easier to allow a travel agent arrange for our cruise. We all got rooms very close to one another. Our rooms were the "cheapest ones" but we were rarely in our room. But, by peeking in the rooms with a view, we thought they looked nicer and were bigger. Two of the couples got the bigger rooms and did spend more time in their rooms.
We got on the transfer bus in Fort Lauderdale and our driver mistakenly took us to Port Everglades! No one was upset, everyone was in a good mood, so the driver just took us to Miami. The normal time to travel from Lauderdale to Miami is around 35 to 45 minutes. The bus pulls up to the port and the driver has to unload all the bags before you get off the bus. This doesn't take very long. Once off the bus, you collect your own bags. You can tip someone to help you with your bags. We paid about $3.00 per bag for help. The bus parks very close to where you start to get on the ship. We got there very late (and I would suggest you get there about 11:00 am). We waited a long time in lines. The lines were not organized and it actually didn't really matter what line you were in. The lines are organized by what floor of the ship you are on. Our room was on deck Nine, so we were in Line 9... When you get to the counter, you present your travel documents and your Visa Card (for the extra charges). The clerk checks your documentation, walks away for a few minutes and comes back with your SeaPass, which is what you show any time you make a purchase on the ship. If you do not have a Visa card, I believe you have to give the ship cash, and charge against the cash. The only time you need cash on the ship is for the Casino, and you can actually charge cash at the Casino window. The Casino is below the Promenade deck. Small but pleasant, not too smokey. Once you are authorized to board the ship you walk up a flight of stairs and there is a photographer waiting to take your picture. We did it, and bought the photo for $19.95 later on deck 4 (I think)! There will be photo opportunities at various times and places on the ship. We really liked the black and white one they took. The photos do seem a little costly, but they are professional and very nice. Tip* you can save up all your photos in one place and choose later, but I would go down and find them each day, then compile them for later, that way you can decide how many you want, or how much you want to spend. There is one deal if you buy four 8 x 10 photos, you get a free Royal Caribbean photo album.
Besides going over everything we did, perhaps I will just list a few things you may want to know!
Do pack a carry on with a change of clothes, makeup, meds if needed as your luggage may not arrive until later in the evening.
Once luggage arrives, do unpack and put things away as the regular rooms are fairly small.
No need to bring shampoo, soap or a hair dryer, they are all provided on the ship. (they have wake up call service but we took a travel alarm clock)
We left the bathroom light on at night because the rooms are pitch black at night (great for sleeping)
It's polite to tip baggage carriers, room service and drink service people.
The soda pass is about $40 or $50 which enables you unlimited supply of soda, since I don't drink that much soda, I decided not to buy one. If soda is purchased separately it was $1.73 (they add an automatic gratuity). However, I did tip above the gratuity amount. There is also an alcohol card, I don't know anything about that. I don't remember the cost of bottled water, but the ship water tasted ok to me.
The staff are genuinely nice and helpful. I did notice a bit of stress, I guess, with some of the staff, but it could be because of the long hours they work. Most staff are extememly helpful and polite. If you have a need, they will do their best to fufill it. We encounter some "negative" passangers, but never a negative staff person.
Booking tours- will leave that up to you. We did not pre book tours as we are quite adventourous and found things to do on our own. I will say though, that tours booked with the ship are more organized than finding one on your own. The tours we did were mostly sight seeing. We felt completely safe in all ports and really enjoyed the tours. We especially liked seeing from the top of St. Thomas, we took some beautiful pictures there. (oh, the ship will also develope film for 40 cents per print).
Fancy dinner night attire: men wore mostly suits and ties, some wore tuxedos. Women wore both long and short fancy dresses, yet some were in skirts and tops. Some wore slacks. You can find out which nights are fancy by reading the daily paper you are given by your stateroom attendant. The paper is very helpful and it is in your best interest to read it.
Medical Facility- unfortunately, my husband became very ill on the ship (not sea sick) and he ended up in the ship hospital. It is only open at certain times, but in an extreme emergency you can dial 911. He received excellent care, blood tests and I.V.s. The fee is put on your charge account and you do receive an itemized statement that you may later turn into your insurance company for re imbursement.
Shopping on Board- there are stores, just like a mall on the ship. It's pretty incredible. At many times, you will not know you are on a ship, and there are all kinds of things to do. The stores consist of a Jewelry store, a general store with limited items, cigarettes (pretty cheap) and alcohol sales, clothing stores, tuxedo rental, a sports put and regular pub plus what I called the bakery! We spent a lot of time going there, eating pizza and pastries, milk, coffee etc. The coffee was very strong though, I didn't like it. If you put a little water in first, its better!
*This was our second cruise on Royal Caribbean, this time I found a card playing room where a bunch of us played cards. They also had checkers, chess, boggle, etc. Bring cards if you want to, there is also a bar right outside the room. Definitely see the ice show and some of the main shows in the theatre. Even when we were late to the theatre we still found seats. Also, the shows are video taped so you can watch them on TV.
If you have children, or want to keep track of each other, I recommend bringing or buying walkie talkies.
Try to review your charge account before Friday because it gets busy and lines can be long.
I hope you enjoy your cruise! Hope my tips have helped a little.