Age: mid 40s
Number of Cruises: 10
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Voyager of the Seas
Sailing Date: December 24th, 2005
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Voyager of the Seas Cruise Review
7 Day Eastern Caribbean
We were part of a group of 17 family members celebrating my father’s 85th birthday. The youngest with us is 3, the oldest 85. For a group this large, with so many diverse personalities and age-range, the best vacation, I believe, is a cruise.
My father’s nickname is Bobo. At embarkation, all of us wore t-shirts with Bobo’s picture and the caption “This is Bobo. Today is his 85th birthday. Find him and give him a hug.” Bobo’s t-shirt read, “I’m Bobo. It’s my birthday.” The Royal Caribbean staff at embarkation gave Bobo a tremendous ovation, leading the entire room in singing Happy Birthday to Bobo. There were several large groups celebrating family reunions and other celebrations, lending a party atmosphere to the embarkation process.
My husband and I were in a balcony room, #9244, with our teenaged children sharing an inside room across the hall. Our room was clean and laid out well. Desmond was our cabin attendant. We were able to find space for everything we brought. The room came equipped with a safe, in which we placed our cell phones. We were officially unplugged and ready for vacation!
This Christmas vacation cruise had an extra sea day, as the day on the itinerary that we’d normally be in Nassau was Christmas Day. Personally, I love sea days more than days at port, as there are so many activities from which to choose. The beauty of a cruise vacation is that you can be as active or inactive as you like. My husband used his time aboard Voyager to nap, putter and read; I packed my days with exercise classes, dancing, cooking demonstrations, bingo, lectures, and whatever else was available. My children picked and chose from various planned activities, although they mostly hung out. Our 17 group members came together each evening in the Magic Flute dining room, tables 558 and 557. Ewa from Poland was our waiter on 558, Joseph from India was the waiter on 557, and Bimh was our head waiter. Our dining room staff took excellent care of us; they were very concerned about us enjoying our meals and having everything we needed or wanted (although I truly wish someone would have told me “NO” when I asked for 2 desserts). The food was pretty good for the most part. I think the strong points in the dining room are the breads and desserts. Soups and salads were good also, with the exception of a too-salty onion soup one night. The entrees were mostly good, and if I ordered an entrée I didn’t like, Ewa was quick to replace it with something else. We’re not wine drinkers, so can’t comment on that aspect of the dining room. I think people who complain about the food on the cruise come in with unrealistic expectations. The kitchen staff on Voyager of the Seas cooks dinner for 3000 people each day- the food was similar in quality to what you’d get at a banquet- and that was just dandy with us.
For most breakfasts and lunches, we ate at the Windjammer. There’s not a lot of day-to-day variety, but there are plenty of daily choices. For breakfast, choose from fruit, oatmeal, grits, scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, pork sausage, bacon, omelets made to order, cereal, muffins, croissants, bagels, smoked salmon, potatoes, sliced meats like turkey and ham, tomatoes, coffee, tea, and a choice of juices. The variety was even more extensive at lunch.
Although we didn’t have dinner in Portofino’s (the specialty restaurant on board where entry is $20 per person), several members of our party did. They all said it was wonderful and well-worth the $20 cover charge. Apparently the down side of Portofino’s is that the food is so good, you tend to overeat.
The cruise was fully booked, but only on rare occasions did we feel crowded: one particular day, there were jewelry display tables set up along the entire length of the Promenade, which created very narrow passageways. The other times we felt crowded was not really a function of the cruise line or ship design, it was when children were screaming during meals and parents didn’t remove them from them from the room, when school-aged kids played in the elevators, and when young teens invaded the hot tubs.
The best show we attended was an adult-oriented audience-participation show called The Quest. If I explained what it’s about, I’d ruin it for you, but if you cruise on Royal Caribbean and you see The Quest on your Cruise Compass newsletter, GO, and don’t bring the kids. This is very adult-oriented show.
Voyager of the Seas is very well designed. There is a ton of open deck space, including the open area at the bow where you can do the “King of the World” thing. It’s also a great place to enjoy views when you enter and leave ports of call.
Our ports of call were St. Thomas, Labadee, and San Juan. I wish we had more time in San Juan. We were there 7am until 2pm, which didn’t leave me as much time for all I wanted to see and do. We explored the San Cristobel fortress and walked to the shopping area in Old San Juan. We had to rush through shopping as our all-aboard call was at 1:30pm.
Labadee is Royal Caribbean’s private island near Haiti. There are several beaches set up with chaises, bars, and shacks where you can check out snorkeling equipment and water mattresses (for a fee). Water sports such as kayaking, parasailing, scuba-diving, and jet skiing are available also. They lay out a good lunch buffet. There’s a shopping area in Labadee, but the vendors are locals who are very aggressive. The crafts they sell are beautiful, but you have to be ready to bargain and to fend off vendors who will literally get right in your face to get your attention and money.
St. Thomas is the shopping mecca of the Caribbean. This is the place to shop for duty free liquor and cigarettes, perfume, and jewelry. We did reserve a couple of hours for shopping, but the morning time was spent on an excursion we booked online via the Royal Caribbean website a few weeks before the cruise. Our excursion was a schooner ride to Turtle Cove where we went snorkeling. The scenery was breath-taking, the weather absolutely perfect, and the rum punch sweet on the ride back to the dock.
Every staff member we encountered aboard Voyager of the Seas was terrific. Desmond took care of our room, the activities staff was friendly and enthusiastic, Gaston at Guest Relations handled our every request with a smile, and Billie and Alexander in the gym did a good job teaching exercise classes.
Royal Caribbean uses a cashless system on board where you charge everything to your Seapass card. It was convenient, but we had to take care not to overspend. You can check your account via your television in your cabin, and that is very helpful.
Disembarking went fairly well. There were long lines, as they called too many luggage tag colors at the same time, but it wasn’t too bad. We had breakfast in the dining room, and after we walked through the Promenade one last time, it was time for us to leave. The staff did a great job making sure our documents were in order and we cleared customs with no problem. Our luggage arrived shortly afterward, and we were on our way.
Our experience was very positive, and this was a great way to celebrate with a large group. I think that in order to have a good cruise experience, you need to have realistic expectations. The food will be good, but not on par with a 5-star restaurant. Not all activities will appeal to everybody. Your cabin will be smaller than an average hotel room, but you’ll find space for mostly everything.
This was our 2nd Royal Caribbean cruise (our first being for Bobo’s 80th birthday aboard the Enchantment of the Seas), and we can wait to celebrate Bobo’s 90th birthday aboard a Royal Caribbean ship!