Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Voyager of the Seas
Sailing Date: November 6th, 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Hello there. This review is for the person out there who may not have the luxury of traveling somewhere every single year, and has just come across a great deal, decided to splurge, and now has no idea what to expect. You may be going crazy reading reviews, wondering about the value, and want to know every detail about taking a cruise. As you should…you don’t get to do this all the time!
All I have to say is RELAX! The Voyager of the Seas is beautiful and there is plenty to do. Remember that this is a vacation; it will be what you make of it. If you just want to relax, you will relax. If you want adventure, you will find it. And if you are a picky person at home, you will be a picky person on your vacation too. Remember that no matter what kind of cabin you booked – everyone is on the same cruise ship…and Royal Caribbean is nice, but they aren’t Crystal Cruises! Comparing them to luxury ships is a no-win situation. If you are used to being waited on, going out all the time, traveling, having someone clean up after you, doing your laundry, and cooking for you, then you will probably find something to complain about anyway and should book a top of line cruise instead. As for the rest of us – you will enjoy these rare luxuries and feel like royalty!
I’ve read a lot of reviews that said they need to think of some other way of getting people on board the ship. Well, there are 3,000 people that need to get on and only so many doors. It took us 2 hours to get on board. Be patient. They will tell you not to get there until 2, but you will show up at noon thinking you’re helping the situation by getting there early, but everyone else had that idea too. Hey – think about it this way…you’ve probably waited in a long line to get on a roller coaster before right? And that only lasted 30 seconds! After a long wait, you will go to your room, comfortably unpack in what you will find to be plenty of space and begin to explore. I got lost on my way to my room and thought it was funny. I didn’t go and complain about the ship’s lack of “white glove” service.
All these reports about the food being horrible…just ignore it. You didn’t have to cook it, you don’t have to wash dishes, and there are too many hungry people in the world to be concerned about food presentation (You won’t find anything on your plate other than what you will eat.) I thought the food was delicious, and the desserts were so good. Sometimes it can seem like the buffet menu is repetitive – but hey, it’s a buffet!! I do agree that the extra charges for Johnny Rockets is extreme, as well as the Portofino’s charge. So you know what we did? We spent the entirety of our vacation sulking and giving the staff a hard time. No! We took a deep breath, remembered we were on vacation, and simply didn’t eat there. You’ll find something, and it will be tasty.
The issue of the ship being crowded is just one of those things that I think will depend on your patients. I never felt crowded. If you have to wait a few minutes in line, just look at the décor, take a picture, chat with your friend or family, and before you know it…the line will be gone. I never had to wait in a line more than 5 minutes, and that’s when there were lines – most of the time there weren’t any. The pool deck during the day is full…and that’s about it. I always managed to find a spot to layout. The rest of the ship wasn’t crowded…we always found a place to sit that was next to a window, and there are plenty of exterior decks below that run along side the ship that were always empty. Do find your way to the very front of the ship though! It’s kind of hard to find, but well worth it and never crowded.
The ports of call were a lot of fun. I would suggest taking organized excursions early, because then you have the rest of the day to do what you want to do. The mile radius just off where the ship docks is inevitably very tourist-oriented and full of shops. If shopping for eight hours sounds boring to you, and you want to do something other than eat and drink, you will need to book an excursion. You can rent a car and take taxis, but you may as well just take an excursion. They're designed to take people to the highlights of the port. Just do it through Royal Caribbean, it's easier and there is no stress involved. You're really not going to save that much money trying to figure it out on your own. We spent about $500 on excursions and it was so worth it. We went horse-back riding, swam with dolphins and sting rays. We decided to splurge on this instead of our cabin and never regretted the decision. By the way, we were upset when we first boarded the ship because for some reason we couldn't book swimming with the dolphins online and it was sold out. So we ended up doing that particular excursion on our own. The actual dolphin excursion was cheaper at the site - but once you add in the taxi fairs and the park entrance, it really turned out to be the same thing.
I remember before I went on the cruise, I was concerned about formal night. I really wanted to dress up but didn’t want to look like a fool either. Formal night really is an event. I saw people in simple cocktail dresses, modest shirts with fancy shawls, some poofy prom dress numbers, and a lady in chaps with black panties. I mean people really use this opportunity to express themselves! We had a very large group of Harley Davidson collectors on our cruise who pulled out their fanciest leather, denim, and boots! This may sound silly to some people, but really, it was so much fun. You could tell that this was their version of what formal was, and they fit right in with me and my long pink flowing dress. Pretty much everything is acceptable and you won’t feel uncomfortable in whatever you decide to wear. People tended to dress up in the evening – even on casual nights. The dining room is a classy affair, but by no means stuffy. If you want to use the casual dress code then by all means use it – you’ll be fine. By the way, my boyfriend was stressing about dressing up and he ended up really enjoying it. He even became one of those people that dressed up on casual nights-willingly!
Do remember that the people you travel with will become a factor. If you go during a time when there is a school break – you are ASKING to be on a ship that has a lot of kids. On that note – if you are traveling with kids, keep their personalities in mind when it comes to considering what will be best for them. If they aren’t particular about being around other kids, then book whenever it’s convenient for you. But if you book when other kids are in school – the children’s program may turn out to be boring for them as they wonder why there are only 6 kids playing duck-duck-goose. So keep in mind what season it is and have a positive attitude about it. The bars on our cruise were busy as soon as they opened thanks to the Harley group!  If it’s spring break time, I imagine the pool area becomes super flooded with teenagers and young college kids. June is probably full of lovey-dovey honeymooners. The groups that will be on your ship may be out of your hands, but some you can control based on what season you book, so be aware of it. And accept that this aspect of the trip may be unpredictable, that’s what makes it fun.
For those of you who are concerned about spending a lot of extra money – I will give you a run down of what we spent ON the ship itself. Our bar total was $120 (we are not drinkers-we had a few cocktails here and there and wine on formal nights, this could really get you though so watch out!), $40 on aqua shoes (you MUST have them – don’t skip it!), $75 on gifts/random stuff, and $54 on photos. And that was it for the sea-pass (onboard tab). We weren’t trying to be cheap either; there just wasn’t a need to buy anything. Well – there was one thing I didn’t do that I had originally wanted to, and that was get a massage. The massage was $120 for an hour and I had the money but I just didn’t feel like spending it on that so I skipped it. I checked too by the way, and manicure/pedicure on the ship will cost about $75 and getting an up-do will cost $40.
I will tell you now the one thing that I did not like about this ship and what really upset me. You can take random professional pictures throughout your vacation. Photographers roam and set up on the ship as well as just outside the ship while in port. You can take these pictures at no cost to you and buy them later if you so choose. A 5x7 picture is $14, and an 8x10 is $20. There is a gallery where you can find your pictures (easy) already developed and just pay for them and take them (you can’t interchange the sizes). We ended up falling in love with about 9 pictures. If we had gotten all of them, it would have cost us almost $200. Again, I had the money, but didn’t feel right spending $200 on pictures. I understand that they can’t give them away for free but I also don’t see why it has to cost so much. They develop the pictures of you, which are of no use to anyone else, and if you don’t buy them they go in the garbage. This was upsetting because I think they really should have given us a discount if we bought a lot of them. Maybe we can meet somewhere in the middle so both parties can be happy? I think the prices should be half of what they are. That way people would spend the same amount of money, and there would be less waste. But who knows? Maybe some people are willing to spend $200 on photos and that’s how they stay in business. I could understand it, because I think they’re worth it. I just couldn’t bring myself to spend $200 on it. But now that we’re home and we developed our pictures to add to the ones we did buy – I’m over it.
The service we received on the ship was impeccable. Our dinner server and his assistant were one of the highlights of our vacation. They greeted us whenever they saw us eating on the ship – day or night. Dinner was something we feared, not knowing whether or not we would be comfortable dining with strangers. Turned out it was lot of fun. Our room service attendant was very good at his job, said hello, and went on with his work. He was very good about straightening up our room without going through all of our stuff. The room was functional and served its purpose well.
My boyfriend and I went on this cruise together. We were always able to socialize and find adventure, and still had plenty of intimate moments to ourselves. The deck of a cruise ship at night is so incredibly romantic and private. I know I have nothing to compare my experience to because this was my first cruise but I will say this; avoid comparing cruise lines. Take each line and each ship for what it is. Relax and take your vacation. If I went on a 5 star cruise ship right now – I would never let it discredit my experience. I absolutely loved my vacation. I adored every minute of it, and felt it was so worth my hard-earned money. While you’re out there, be sure to take the time to appreciate your surroundings. Be proud because you’ve earned it, and be thankful because so few people have the means to do so. If you have any questions, drop me a line. I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned with you.