Just back from Voyager 6/18 - my review

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387 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
First, let me just say that we had a fabulous time on the Voyager – loved it! I’ve been trying to figure out how to approach this "review" so I’m going to give you background on our cruise experiences and why we were on the Voyager last week and then just mention things that really impressed (lots) and things that were disappointing (very few).

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!
Ottawa, Canada
644 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
Thanks for the tips about the robes...I never thought to ask on our last 2 cruises (Navigator), but will remember for our next one (Serenade!)

Were you charged for them or were they complimentary?
Jessup, PA
72 Posts
Joined Apr 2004

The robes were free to use but only on the ship. If you wanted to buy them I believe it was about $45.00.
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Frederick, MD
139 Posts
Joined Jun 2000
Terrific review. I've been on RCCL once, and now I can't wait to go again!
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Merion, Pennsylvania
59,551 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
alex drew:

Thanks for taking the time and effort to post your thoughts and experiences. It was particularly kind and thoughtful of you to let us all know "where you were coming from" in your reactions.

Did you get the feeling that the ONLY cause of the delay and difficulty in embarking was that the computers were down? If that is so, it could happen to any ship in any port. In general, the reports have been increasingly favorable about the new port of Bayonne, and I am just keeping my fingers crossed that the 8/8 sailing will be the pinnacle of efficiency and ease.

Welcome home! Have you booked the next one yet?

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387 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Originally posted by Merion_Mom
alex drew:

Did you get the feeling that the ONLY cause of the delay and difficulty in embarking was that the computers were down? If that is so, it could happen to any ship in any port. In general, the reports have been increasingly favorable about the new port of Bayonne, and I am just keeping my fingers crossed that the 8/8 sailing will be the pinnacle of efficiency and ease.

Welcome home! Have you booked the next one yet?

Hi Carol!

Thanks, no, we haven't thought about our next cruise yet...

To answer your question, no, I don't think the only cause of delay was the computers going down... The port is so new, and I think all of the staff is new also. The staff was pleasant, but just didn't seem to know what was going on. One example was that when we FINALLY got into the building after the computers were back up, a nice young woman greeted us and directed our daughter (room on deck 9) to the left and then told us (deck 7) to go to the left to get our passports "checked" and then come back to her to go into the line for deck 7 - that line was to the right. We dutifully went to the nice young guard a few yards ahead of us who looked at our passports and said "OK" and I said "so now we go back to that young lady?" and he said "is that what she said to do?" and I responded "yes" and he said "OK" and I said "how will she know you checked our passports?" and he said "tell her I did..." and I asked "how will she know you actually checked them?" "I can come tell her I did..." It was just mass confusion... I'm sure that all of the kinks will be worked out by the time you sail!
Central Village, CT
375 Posts
Joined Sep 2003
Carol, Just thought I would let you or anyone else know that is interested. My husband and I just returned from the 6/13 Canada sailing on the Voyager. I to was worried from all the horror stories we read on the boards. Our documents stated boarding would not begin till 6 pm. We drove from CT and made much better time than we thought, so got to the port early and took a chance going to the terminal at 3:45. We were able to pull right in and park, took the shuttle bus to the terminal and on the ship by 4:45. It was a breeze and I was just so amazed at how quickly we were on board. Getting off was entirely different. We had red tags, did not get called till 10:45am, we able to find the luggage fairly quickly but we were one of the lucky ones as the bags were just tossed in huge pile in one section of the terminal. We grabbed a porter quickly and was told that one of us were to stay with him and the other to walk to the parking lot(long walk) to go get the car. Needless to say I stayed with the porter and my husband went for the car, all the porter did was walk me to the edge of the terminal and dump me off alone, this is after a $20 tip, now I had to juggle carry on's and watch the luggage and watch for my husband to come through. Cars were just stopping anywhere and blocking traffic and not being able to get out or let others through to get pick up. It took more than an hour to get the luggage to the car and head for home. Guess we were paying our dues for the quick embarkation.

Hopefully they will get the bugs worked out as time goes by. Have a wonderful time on your cruise, I know we did. The Voyager was just great.

Prairie Village, Kansas
8,616 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
Just heard you'd written your review and ran over to see how your cruise went! Except for the glitches in embarkation, it sounds like you had a great time! Welcome back!
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North Carolina
159 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
Great Review! The Voyager Class is on my "to do" list.
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Mount Arlington, NJ
683 Posts
Joined Nov 2003
Its funny to see how RC has changed since i went on it just 2 weeks earlier. Here is a link to my review.


I would suggest looking back on things that if you are planning on cruising and you are around the college age i would advise tipping early in the week, i have heard doing this causes the staff to be more friendly towards you. We got crappy service and we are very convinced it has to do with our age and that they were expecting to get stiffed. Well needless to say the casino staff was great and they benefitted from it. The waiter and room steward were terrible and naturally they got shorted because of it.
Merion, Pennsylvania
59,551 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
grod, I don't know if it will make you feel better or worse, but I don't think that the level of service you received has anything to do with your age. On our last cruise, I tipped our cabin steward in advance (BIG tip) and winked and told him how much we were looking forward to his EXCELLENT service. He was AWFUL. Let's face it, while most of RCI's employees do an outstanding job, there are slackers and malcontents. Sometimes you just get stuck with 'em.

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Hudson Valley, NY-USA
9,894 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
Thanks for posting your review. We were on the 5/21 sailing and had a great time. Isn't Hideaway Beach great!!!! Brings back all the great memories from our cruise.
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701 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
Grod, I totally understand your tipping problem (I read your review about it too). As a college student, when my husband & I were in the Army, and as a mom with young kids, I found that we generally always received very poor service at a restaurant. Especially in uniform, once we'd walk in for lunch, the waitress would just roll her eyes and ignore us. Every time this happened, we were faced with the dilemma: Do you tip them will (like I normally do), even though the service was rude and horrible? Or do you not tip or tip poorly, thus reinforcing that servicepeople (college students, moms) don't tip well so why bother? I still don't know the answer!
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Mount Arlington, NJ
683 Posts
Joined Nov 2003
well since it is my money and i can think of much better ways to spend it then to give it to someone that didnt earn it i shorted the guy. Nothing huge we still tipped him for his time but not as well as he should have gotten had he used his brain
126 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
I too just got back from the June 18th Voyager cruise. It was wonderful. I popped the question on the front of the ship (she said yes!), and Jennifer and I even bought our wedding rings in Grand Cayman.

I was disappointed about missing Freeport, but there was nothing you could do.

My two complaints....

1) too many children running around. I have no problem with children (have a 12 year old myself) but there needs to be a curfew. There were 14-15 year old kids running around at 2 in the morning, some of them drunk. Not good.

2) Leaving the ship was quick but.... for those of us waiting for a bus, the early arrival to NYC meant that we had to wait a while for our bus. And Royal Caribbean has NO place for you to wait except along a curb. It was a disaster. They should set up a drink stand or something in times like this. I got the feeling that it was like 'the cruise is over, RC doesn't care about you anymore.'

Other than that, it was a terrific cruise. Must do: Portofinos. Wonderful food.

Now looking into a cruise for Jennifer and I's honeymoon.

Where to go???

387 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Wow, Bryan, congratulations to you and Jennifer! How totally romantic! Let us all know what ship/itinerary you decide on for the honeymoon!

Re the bus issue, we were on "Academy" bus line back to DC and there were several from that line waiting when we got off the ship. I asked the driver whether they were contacted about the early docking, and he said that they are ALWAYS asked by RCCL to be there at 8:30 am, even though they (the bus drivers) know that no one is ever going to get off until 10 am at the earliest... Also, he said they don't get paid for that waiting time...only their driving time. I do remember seeing a lot of people waiting near the bus area and being concerned as to whether our bus would be there. What a miserable end to a great cruise.

We also agree w/you about some of the kids running wild...we heard at breakfast on our last day that one kid who appeared to be about 15 years old was being restrained by a couple of security guards and other security was being called for backup. The couple telling the story said they didn't hang around, but said the young man was very out of control. I'm not sure how they would enforce a curfew though. They don't even enforce the dress code in the dining room...
126 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
Alex has a point...

For those new to cruising expecting Royal Caribbean to adhere to the dress requirement for the dinning room, forget about it. Ones idea about what casual dress is, for example, varies from person to person. I saw people clearly wearing tank tops and shorts on casual nights, which are supposed to be unacceptable. Those dressed like that were seated and served, no problem. These people should be strongly nudged to go to the Windgammer.

As I pointed out in my last post, try Portofinos. The food was wonderful, and atmosphere even better. This is definitely the romance dinning stop to go on RC ships. Leave the kids wandering around the ship, however. They state that the entire meal takes at least 2 hours (which it did for us), but it was worth it.