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Harold & Lori Jennings

Age: Both 38

Occupation:Landscaping

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Voyager of the Seas

Sailing Date: October 12th, 2003

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Well, it's been 2 weeks and we are still in withdrawals from this most amazing cruise! Last year, my husband and I went on our first cruise aboard Sovereign of the Seas without our children. We had such a wonderful time and we knew that the next time we went they would have to be with us! So, we started planning our cruise aboard Voyager around January of 2003. It was a long wait until October but well worth it!

We drove from Greenville, SC to Miami, FL the day before departure. Well, that in itself was a long drive (about 12 hours) but we knew something awesome would be waiting for us when we got there! We spent the Saturday evening before departing Sunday, walking around downtown Miami which was quite an experience. We had a large party with us (neighbors and friends) and we ended up eating at Hard Rock Cafe' which we were not impressed with. Food was way overpriced, it was late, we were tired and really, just ready for the real fun to begin on Voyager the following day.

Embarkation was really no problem at all. The line moved quickly and and we were on the ship by around 12:30. From the moment you step inside this magnificent vessel, you think you're in a grand hotel somewhere far, far away. It's breathtaking. We stopped at a table just inside the entrance, to pick up information for our girls (ages 10 and 14) regarding the programs they offer for their age group. We then proceeded to explore the ship and find our cabins. We were on the 2nd level where the rooms are that have the upper berths that come down from the ceiling (sort of like bunk beds). We were wondering just exactly how much room we would have in the room, but we were surprised to find it very comfortable with a nice vanity and seating area. We then went up to the Windjammer for the Welcome Aboard lunch which was delicious and the desserts were wonderful! My girls were already thrilled! We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the ship, and then we left Miami at 5:00. Before we left, I was standing in awe of the beautiful pool area on the 11th deck, calling one of my best friends on a cell phone telling her, "oh my gosh. This is unbelievable and we haven't even left yet!"

Our first day at sea was nice and relaxing. (it is also the first formal night). We spent a lot of time up around the pool watching the bellyflop contest, (which is hysterical) and my neighbor and daughter enjoyed rock climbing later in the afternoon. We also ate a late lunch at Johnny Rockets since we knew our dinner was not until 8:45. Which, by the way, I highly recommend the late dinner, because the day slips away from you and it was all I could do to get to the dining room on time even at 8:45! A lot of people with kids may think eating early is better, but honestly, there's so much food all the time, unless you have toddlers, your kids will be fine until the late dinner. It also gives you more time to enjoy yourself doing other things without having to stop at 5:00 to get ready for dinner. (just my opinion of course!)

Johnny Rockets is wonderful but you do have to pay for cokes and milkshakes. (a little hint; if you purchase the coke card for your child which is around $23; grab a coke, take it into Johnny Rockets and they'll refill it for you without you having to buy another one).

Formal night was nice. Everyone looked so beautiful! Pictures are pricey though. 8 x 10's are $20 - smaller snapshots are around $10. Always taking pictures all the time. We took a bunch of formal pictures with our own cameras with wonderful backgrounds which we will have blown up.

Tuesday brought us to Haiti. It is a very pretty island with lush mountains and palm trees. Very relaxing. I found my happiness in renting the floating beach mat for $10 for the day. We also rode the banana boat. What a hoot that was. $10 per person which really isn't bad and the view was so nice. You could look back over your shoulder and see the ship as you go by. They also provided a nice b-b-q lunch on the island that day. We walked through the marketplace but be prepared to be asked a 1,000 times if you are interested in buying something. We did find a nice piece of art of the sun/half moon made of tin. The lady told me $75 - before it was over, we offered her $20 and she took it. Bargain with them. They know you will.

Weds was Jamaica and we had no excursions planned. When we got off the ship there were people everywhere asking if you needed a taxi or a tour, etc. I just stopped and thought I would listen to this man making us an offer for a tour. He had someone waiting on the sidelines who would take us all around Ocho Rios for about $20 per person. That was more than I could spend. He decided my youngest daughter was free, and we agreed the rest of our group would be $15 per person. Deal, he said. "Come with me".....so we got into a van with a nice gentlemen named Garfield. Hang on if you ride with him. Apparently Jamaica observes no road rules so this experience can be borderline frightening. But nonetheless, it was very interesting to learn of the culture and see the way the people live. He took us to the top of a mountain for a beautiful photo op of the ship, fern gully which was a nice, cool trip up a mountain full of many different ferns. He told us a lot of history. We were glad we did this because the city can be overwhelming and not someplace you want to explore on your own and way too big to do it on foot.

Thurs was Grand Cayman. Oh my. Beautiful does not do this island justice. Incredible. We went on a snorkeling/swim with the stingrays excursion and enjoyed it very much. I'm not big on snorkeling (apparently you have to have an engineering degree to master that skill) but me and a friend watched the others snorkel while we put on our life jackets and floated all around the snorkeling area just enjoying the gorgeous water. The stingray's were a great thrill too. This was the 2nd formal night.

Friday took us to Cozumel. We decided we wanted to rent a car because we wanted to explore and plus, it was raining a little. All the vans were taken, so we all crammed into a smaller compact type car, but it served the purpose in getting us around town. The cost was around $49 for the day. Not too bad especially if you're sharing it with someone else. We shopped a while, then went down the road a bit to find a beach which we did. We didn't feel that we were very organized in what we wanted to do so it helps to have a game plan on where you want to go, things you want to see. Time is short so you have to make the most of it. It was a very nice day.

Saturday was another day at sea. It was a nice relaxing day and we knew our fun was coming to a close. It was hard to believe a week had gone by already! I was beginning to feel so sad!

The food was great on the Voyager. If you are into trying new things at dinner, that is the time to do it. If you want 2 entrees, order them. Try it all! It was all good. The service was great but in the beginning a little slow with drinks, etc. But overall, a wonderful experience. In fact, our last night on board, our waiter, Sylvia, looked at my 10 year old and said, "why do you have such a long face?" - she looked up at her and said, "I don't want to go!" and she started crying! She looked over at me and wouldn't you know it, I started blubbering too! Everyone we were with got a good laugh out of that! It was a true testment to the good time my girls had on this vacation.

Also, the shows were awesome. They are so organized and professional you would think you're in New York at a Broadway play. A couple of nights they had comedians who were also very entertaining. Don't sit near the back of the theatre though, because you're right next to the bar and you can hear only blenders during the performance! Let me say 2 words you will not soon forget.....cruise director! Richard Spacey was so much fun and so adorable that we wanted to take him home with us by the end of the week. He has such a wonderful personality and is so good at what he does, he really keeps you laughing the entire week! My girls (oh well, and me too) really miss being entertained by him! They still are talking about some of the funny things he did and said.

So overall, it was an amazing vacation and one we'll never forget. I'm ready to go on this very same cruise again. After going on the Voyager, you just can't imagine boarding anything any smaller.

Have a wonderful time and think of me when you're there!

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