I’m going to start with the fact that the reason we were on the Voyager last week was because our granddaughter (18) just graduated from high school and she and her mother (mid-thirties, recently divorced) had never cruised before and, having heard our stories about how it is the ultimate vacation, wanted to do a cruise for her graduation. She and her mother picked the Voyager...it was not my choice. My husband and I had been on the Golden Princess a couple of years ago and thought it was just too big, so I wasn’t thrilled at the thought of this huge ship. Having said that, I would sail the Voyager again in a heartbeat! It just doesn’t have that overwhelming "too big" feel...it actually felt quite intimate and homey. We all loved it!
My husband and I had only sailed on Royal Caribbean twice – our very first cruise experiences – on the three-day cruise out of Miami on the Nordic Empress (now Empress of the Seas, I think) when it was brand new in 1991 and again in 1992. At the time, we thought that this ship was HUGE! We loved the Nordic Empress, Royal Caribbean and cruising. We subsequently sailed a couple of times on Holland America , a couple of time on Princess and last year on Celebrity. Even though I was worried that the Voyager would be too big, I was very interested in sailing on RCCL again to see if our first impressions all those years ago had been correct, and to see how RCCL compared to Holland, Princess and Celebrity.
OK, so now I’ll start with my "review".
We took a bus from Union Station in DC (Academy) which stopped in Delaware and Philadelphia (there was an entire separate bus from Baltimore). It was $65 round trip from DC and was the bargain of a lifetime! There were only the 4 of us from DC with a total of 22 passengers, so everyone could spread out if they wanted to. **Thanks to Seabreezes2 for the good info on the bus, you described everything perfectly, so we knew exactly where to meet the bus at Union Station and where it would be when we came home yesterday**. The bus left Union Station at 8:30 am and arrived at Cape Liberty at 1:30 pm.
The only real negative of this entire review was the embarkation at Cape Liberty. It was the worst I’ve ever encountered...a total nightmare. I just kept explaining that this was unusual for embarkation, that it was a new port and that there were kinks that need to be worked out... (Thank God for this board, because I was a least somewhat prepared for this, but most people weren’t.) We were standing outside in the hot sun (there is an awning, but there were so many people in line that a lot of us were not under it) when the computers went down inside and they couldn’t process anyone. I found out at breakfast yesterday from others at our table, that the computers went down twice during embarkation and that the first time, anyone who had already been processed had to be re-processed before boarding because their Seapasses wouldn’t work. Once inside, it was utter chaos. I won’t go into detail or we’d be here all day... Anyway, we finally got to our room - 7636, a balcony room – at 3:15 pm. On the bright side, the "plus" about the slow embarkation was that our bags arrived in our room almost as soon as we did...
**One funny note – my husband and I walked into our room and thought it was very spacious...daughter and granddaughter walked into their identical room and thought it was tiny...welcome to cruising... By the end of the 2nd day they thought their room was just fine...
The ship is gorgeous. Beautiful, elegant decor – we loved the artwork by the elevators & stair landings.
The shower is very spacious! No shower curtain – rounded rigid doors that slide open so when the doors are closed around you, it is a totally round space, and quite comfortable. Bathroom was a nice size.
Lots of storage. 9 drawers (4 each side and one long thin one in the middle) in the desk/vanity. Two long skinny mirrored doors on each side of the vanity mirror that open and have 3 or 4 shelves to store stuff. We kept our cameras in there, along with various grooming items. A cabinet over the safe compartment that had a shelf. I initially thought the closet looked small, but it was arranged so well, that it held everything very easily.
Stateroom attendant - One of the very best we’ve ever had. Wilma had our room cleaned immediately every time we went out. She really was fantastic...and did great towel animals!
Robes - I had asked once on the boards if there were robes in the rooms and someone replied that you just ask for them. Yep, worked perfectly. Asked Wilma the first day and they were in our room after dinner.
Labadee - LOVED IT! Thanks to you guys, I knew to go further down the beach to "Hideaway beach" instead of stopping at the first or second beach we came to. It was much less crowded. Labadee is beautiful.
Shows - Overall I thought they were very good. I loved the ice show and most of the production shows. The only show that we walked out of (as did a lot of others) was Dreamscape. The other entertainers were good. Quest was lots of fun. I didn’t do any of the other game shows...just gambled and went to bed early. The Cruise Comics made the wait for the main shows very enjoyable.
Bar service was great. I didn’t find them pushy, but they were always there when you wanted a drink.
Soda cards - granddaughter and daughter both used them and felt they were an excellent value. Never any problem getting a fountain soda anywhere they were – they used them at meals, at the pool, in bars, no one tried to bring them a can or neglected to bring the soda because it was on a soda card. At dinner they found the second soda would always be flat from sitting out, so they just said it was flat, asked for another one and got it right away.
Carry on wine - no problem. I had a bottle of wine and 2 non-alcoholic beers and a bottled water in a small cooler on ice, and also had another bottle and the other 4 bottles of the n/a beer sitting right in the six-pack container in my carry-on and no one batted an eyelash. (Had a few bottles in my packed luggage too...still spent $175 in wine on board...)
The mini-fridge is small but adequate... Stateroom attendant told me to just take the sodas out and leave them on the shelf next to the TV – plenty of room for a bottle of wine, beer and larger bottled water laying on the side (you can’t stand anything up except for cans of soda).
Room Service - omelettes were wonderful. Wrote in that we wanted ham, cheese and mushrooms (instead of just ham or cheese) with no problem. There was no charge for room service.
Coffee - Seattle’s Best. We loved it! We like strong coffee and this definitely is...it was perfect for us!
Food - overall I thought it was excellent. My one complaint food-wise was that the salad dressings were the worst I’ve ever had...but we found out that you can ask for vinegar and oil instead. Our waiter, Singh was from India and was absolutely fantastic. We all loved him... He really was very knowledgeable and if he recommended it, you knew you were going to be impressed with the dish.
Freeport - we didn’t get to go there because of an accident of some sort that wrecked a portion of the dock and made it unsafe both or dock and to tender, and there were no other ports nearby that could accommodate us so we had another day at sea. This was fine with me but a lot of people were pretty bitter about it... The captain announced it around 10 pm on Thursday, the night before we were to have gone there. He came on again a little after noon on Friday, to explain the situation and then announced that all drinks at the bars would be free until 1 pm (about 45 minutes). I was at the pool when he announced it, and it was a madhouse getting to the bars, but then a few minutes later the waiters all started around with trays of drinks - margaritas, pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris. A really classy move on RCCL’s part, I thought. It wasn’t necessary, but went a long way toward making people feel better about missing Freeport.
A couple of complaints -(1) I missed having body lotion in the room. (2) After packing for 3 informal (smart casual) nights, the only one we had was the very last night when you wanted to already have that stuff packed! My husband was one of about 6 men I saw with a jacket on, and who could blame them?
One really nice touch (ladies, you will appreciate this) was that they provided large bowls of feminine products (at no charge) in every ladies room, even on Labadee. I’ve not seen that done on any other cruise line.
One last thing – I know, you thought I’d never be finished – as terrible as embarkation was, the disembarkation was the smoothest I’ve ever encountered. We arrived early, and I think we were docked by about 7:30 am or so. We were on the bus at 1 pm, although we had to wait until about 1:30 pm for all of the passengers to arrive. They had more colors for the bag tags, I think, than most ships, so it was easier to find your luggage. We found our bags and were out of the building in about 2 minutes flat!
Any cruise is a good cruise in my opinion, but this was just outstanding! We love RCCL!
Now back to reality. I know this is a really long review, but if you have any questions that I didn’t cover, I’d be happy to try to answer them!