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Deborah

Age: 52

Occupation:Library Director

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Voyager of the Seas

Sailing Date: October 17th, 2004

Itinerary: Western Caribbean


This was our first cruise, and we have traveled a little in Europe and in the U.S so the sightseeing was not our motivator for picking this cruise.

Overall we enjoyed the experience, relaxed a lot, and we thought it was great value. We booked a Bahamas cruise on Royal Caribbean. We purposely picked this short cruise for our first experience. I am not sure I would go for longer than 5 nights, but that is subjective.

Read through the cruise booklet and do try to book excursions ahead of time. The line to do so on board is very long. Do pack a carry on bag so you can either change or freshen up before dinner on the first night. Your luggage will arrive at the room after dinner. Do read the cruise newsletter, Cruise Compass, every day. It contains important information as well as information about activities and shows.

Do arrive at the earliest time the cruise book states boarding begins.

We live in New Jersey so we drove to the Bayonne terminal, dropped off our luggage, checked it in (do tip the baggage handlers) and my husband and I parked the car in the lot. Although there is a shuttle from the lot to the terminal, the walk is very short, so unless you can’t walk you don’t need the shuttle. Parking was reasonable, $60 for the week.

Embarkation
We checked in and got our Sea Pass uneventfully. There was no welcome aboard or anyone to direct passengers to the elevators or their staterooms, until we actually got up to our deck. There we found stateroom attendants who were very friendly and helpful When we filled in the customer satisfaction survey we mentioned the confusion when boarding, the wait for an elevator, and the lack of direction from the boarding deck.

We had an outside stateroom on deck 10 with a balcony. I understand that people feel they won’t spend much time in the stateroom, so they won’t spend the extra money to upgrade, but to us, this was worth it. It was October but the balcony is so constructed that we didn’t feel any wind or really cold while sitting out there. I relaxed and really enjoyed the mornings and the early evenings on the balcony. The room was nicer than expected as far as the space to unpack, in fact, the room and bathroom had features that a regular hotel does not. Yes, it was a little small and yes the bathroom and shower take some getting used to, but overall it was really fine, much better than I expected.

The ship is lovely and immaculate as was our stateroom. Our attendant came twice per day, provided clean towels in the evenings and mornings, turned down the bed for us, and made us laugh with his funny towel designs, including one that used my sunglasses.

On the first night we had Muster in Cleopatra’s Needle. Do make sure you know where your muster spot is and bring your life jackets with you. Arrive early to get a seat.

We learned our way around and used the stairs a lot, good for exercise.

Food:
We booked the second seating for dinner at large table. The dining rooms are very elegant, you do feel as though you should be dressed for dinner every night, even though it’s only one gala night on this itinerary. The second seating was a good choice, the large table was not and we requested a table change. At the first table the waitress was a little cold, which was clearly an exception. The change worked out well, the people were friendly and interesting and the waiter and his assistant were terrific.

Making the table change was a problem. We went to Guest Relations and they told us to find the Maitre D’ but ever time we looked he was not there. We felt we were getting a runaround or the staff simply didn’t know. Finally we “accosted” him at the door to the dining room at the 6 pm seating and he changed to a table right next to the one we didn’t want to sit at. It worked out for the best but it was a little crazy trying to accomplish this.

The food is okay, the service is great. We are shy people, but friendly, so we tried our best. We ordered, for example, a glass of wine with dinner. Our table mates at both tables seemed taken aback by this. We are not big drinkers but a glass of wine on vacation is not outrageous. We agree with comments on the Windjammer, but it’s great for breakfast, not for lunch or dinner. We tried to go to Johnny Rocket’s once and it seemed that it opened earlier than was posted in the newsletters so it was jammed with a long wait..

We did not look for food 24/7 as some people did, but we appreciated the unlimited coffee and cookies, as well as soft ice cream for a snack.

We read and heard about Portofino’s as being not to be missed, so we reserved for one evening. We must have hit on a bad night. The service was actually non-existent until we complained and there was a large party of people waiting who also had to complain. The atmosphere is elegant and the waiter, once we got one, was good, but to be honest, we thought the food was simply the same as the dining room with some changes. Better than average but nothing extraordinary.

On Board Activities:

We did not rush from one thing to the other. I loved walking on the top deck every morning and I used the gym extensively; :it’s a great gym. We played ping pong and looked at the art work. My husband liked the casino. People seemed to win a little here and there. We also played miniature golf and we watched the rock climbers but didn’t’ try it. We found it all very relaxing.

The shows were okay, I think I expected more. I compared notes with my Mom, who had taken a Western Caribbean cruise on RCCL, and it seemed like the jokes and the shows were identical!

Excursions
St. Johns. Very pretty views from the boat but truly, there is nothing doing. I don’t recommend a city tour unless you are a history buff. Some people did the Rapids ride at the Bay of Fundy, and this looked like fun. Our table mates did it and loved it. If you take this cruise in the summer, spend the day on board.

Halifax. Much bigger city and I would have liked more time. We booked a Twin Cove with Lobster Lunch excursion, leaving us no time to walk around Halifax. Our table mates bought tickets to ride around the city transport system all day, hop on, hop off, and it sounded like that was a good choice. Yes Peggy’s Cove and Fisherman’s cove are very pretty and quaint. Probably Peggy’s Cove is enough. The lunch was in the only restaurant at Fisherman’s Cove. The food was excellent, the lobster the best I ever ate. I did not enjoy table mates and the service was slow. The waitress was overwhelmed. We probably could have enjoyed a lobster lunch in Halifax, just as good. The secret is to boil the lobster in sea water!

Tipping
We did go to Guest Relations once to pre-pay our tips so we could put them on our credit card. This worked out very well, so we didn’t have to carry so much cash. We tipped the recommended amount and added for the Waiter and the Stateroom Attendant.

Disembarkation
It was sort of disappointing to have to get out of the room so early and sit around in the theatre waiting for them to call our color. I read someone else’s review stating that they changed their color to get off early, but I steered clear of the Guest Relations desk, either long longs or no one was there to help, nor did I know such a thing was possible. It ruins the good feeling to be waiting.

Finding the bags once our color was called was not problem at all, but it felt funny that you don’t get a farewell as you leave other than a business like nod from the crew, even less of a smile than you get from an airplane flight attendant when you leave a plane.

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