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Sarah Harmon

Age: 22

Occupation:hotel front desk

Number of Cruises: six

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Voyager of the Seas

Sailing Date: November 16th, 2003

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

I went on this ship as part of a surprise 50th birthday celebration for my Mum, organized by my Dad, with 20 people from all over the world - friends and family. We selected the itinerary because it goes to some of the most popular cruise destinations and the ship because Dad wanted to make the trip extra special - when you're on the largest ship ever built what more can you ask for?

We had two days at leisure at Roney Palace resort on South Beach, before and after the cruise. This was great as it ensured that we could all begin the celebrations before departing on the ship, and guarantees that all the guests would be ready to sail (no one missing the ship sail off into the distance!).

I was with my boyfriend, as we are quite young we selected an inside cabin. On Voyager this really does mean inside - there are four rows of cabins! The benefit is that you really can't feel any motion. I liked that the showers had a proper door rather than a cabin. The cabins are considerably smaller than Carnival though, so if size is an important factor, bear in mind you may want to upgrade.

There are so many bars on board that you never have to wait to get a cocktail.
I must say (and my boyfriend is a gourmet chef) that we think Carnival does better food, but then again the chefs on board prepare 15,000 meals a day! I was impressed at the selection in the buffet restaurants (island grill and windjammer) for lunch and dinner, but I couldn't believe how much food people pile on their plates!

For a less chaotic breakfast, my parents always ate in the main dining room (Carmen) and as they so rightly mentioned, the food is prepared a la carte, so it hasn't been sitting around with people poking it, and you are more likely to meet other guests when you eat in there.

We had two dinner tables, one for 6 guests and one for 14, in Carmen, right in the center - great location, near the door but also in the center of all the action.

Our waiters were fantastic - we had Hadi from Tunisia. One night it was our back waits birthday so we got him a card in Jamaica and all signed it and sang Happy Birthday to him rather than the other way around!

We were on one of the first tenders, which meant we had pick of the sun loungers. We explored the island before settling, however it was really overcast and the clouds were still hanging over the mountains. By 10 am it was pouring - seriously pouring - with rain, so much so that I kind of thought about going back to the ship. We left the beach and found a lively bar at the Dragon Rock place, they were playing Ibiza style dance music and we got some beer to wake us up. The sky brightened up by noon - the bar tender said the exact same thing had happened the week before. By 1 it was hot! We went on the banana boat to cool off. I noticed that the kiddies beach (where the inflatables are) was still cloudy, it was amazing that as small as the island was, it was sunny on one side and miserable on the other. There is a cool tractor that you can hop on and off to take you from one beach to the other.

Having been here twice before, climbed Dunn's river falls and visited the plantation (both worth a trip) we wanted to try something a little different, so my boyfriend and I went on the Martha Brae rafting tour. Its a very tranquil river, on a 30ft long bamboo raft for two people and one guy steering with a long stick.

Again, the heavens opened as soon as we got there, but no one minded too much. Beware of the overhanging branches near where you board the raft, after the downpour one gave in and fell on someone's shoulder, inches more and it could have been fatal. That was a bit scary. A tip for this trip, bring bug spray! I got eaten alive! The driver will offer to take a photo with your camera, I was worried that it might fall in the river and politely declined, anyway they take a photo for you which is $6 - much cheaper than the pros on the ship. There are lots of venders at the side of the river, selling beer, soda and t-shirts and even some locals threw a tiny copy of our raft made from wood at me, and as i didn't want it i threw it back and he got really mad at me!

There is a new shopping complex with a great Margarittaville in Ocho Rios, right by the ship!

Grand Cayman
This port is too small to dock at so you have to tender. Well, as i said we had an inside cabin and it wasn't til we got out on deck - ready for our excursion - that we realized that we skipped GC. It was too windy to tender, and the port was closed. It was disappointing, but there wasn't anything we could do about it. I heard people complaining at the guest relations desk, but Captains decision is final, and anyway it was out of his hands, so we spent the day at sea, topping up our tans.

It gets better and cleaner every time... there is a new Senor Frogs at the port which is great for a last minute party, and unlike the one in town, you won't miss the ship as the bar will suddenly be deserted. I will never forget Cozumel as I got engaged here to my boyfriend, we bought a ring but beware, we had loads of trouble paying for it with his American visa debit card and the ATMs couldn't read our cards also, I would suggest taking cash with you. The ships ATM was out of order too, and the guest relations don't do cash advances, only the casino, which of course was closed as we were in port! Thank God for credit cards.

We went to Chankanaab beach for the afternoon, that's a really great beach with plenty of activities and food, and sun loungers.

Back on board, we had a make shift engagement party with the whole gang up in the high notes bar on the top deck, which before dinner was very quiet.

There is so much to do on this ship. We didn't go ice skating, rock climbing or anything. Well, we played golf on our first day at sea but it was so windy it was a joke.

That's another thing to bear in mind, the trip from Miami to the Caribbean will always be windy, whatever time of year. Once you get down there, and on the way back its fine, but you are sailing into the wind and it can get a bit much!

Have fun!

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