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Monday, January 16, 2012

Royal Caribbean Voyage Of The Seas Review

Voyager of the Seas Review
Voyager Of The Seas - Grand Cayman
                First Impression. WOW!  When this ship launched in 2006, it was the largest cruise ship in the world. At 1081 feet long and 138 feet wide, she is impressive to behold.  And for me, this ship would continue to impress me all week long on our Western Caribbean itinerary departing out of New Orleans, LA.
                We arrived in the “Big Easy” the day before departure to experience some of what the Crescent City has to offer.  Lucky for us, the BCS championship game between LSU and Alabama was scheduled for the following Monday, so we were not alone in wanting to party.  Because of all the college students, we got a glimpse of what Mardi Gras would be like on Bourbon Street. WILD!

  And I even scored some beads to take home.  Visiting New Orleans would not be complete without  shopping and eating in the French Quarter and visiting one of the famous cemeteries.  I have always been partial to St Louis Cemetery #1, where the tomb of Marie Laveau is situated.  A celebrated voodoo queen, many visit her grave with gifts to bring them good luck.  To the lady who left the almost empty packet of Birth Control Pills, I hope your luck was incredible!  Along those same lines, I made sure to pick up some voodoo dolls to bring home to my friends.  Just in case they need them in the future.
                We stayed in the Drury Inn and Suites and were surprised at how nice these accommodations were.  Convenient to walking to Bourbon St and the down town area, it was very well appointed.  What I did not like was the constant sound of the trolley passing by on train tracks all night long.  I am a light sleeper and the noise kept me up.  If you stay there, get a room on the opposite side of the hotel from the trolley.  Don’t miss 5:30 kickback in the evenings.  It is a light dinner.  Breakfast is perfect to get you going.
                Arriving at the Port of New Orleans is a little odd if you are arriving by car.  You have to drive almost 2 miles out of the way to drop off baggage, which is what we did so we would be able to enjoy the morning without having to drag around our bags.  We drove to the port at 10:30 and easily dropped off our bags…twice.  After dropping off our car at Avis on Canal Street, and after winding our way through the French Quarter,
we picked up the trolley car at Canal Street, which dropped us off at the cruise terminal.  Nice!
                We have never arrived at the cruise port at a time when everyone else in the world is arriving!  The line was incredibly long.  But we proceeded steadily and at a decent pace through the first security check point.  Have your boarding pass and passport/birth certificate handy.  From there we went through the carry-on bag screening.  Don’t try to carry onboard any irons, pocket knives, or alcohol.  It’ll be confiscated!  Then, we finally got to check-in, which really only took about 10 minutes.  Have your boarding pass and passport/birth certificate in hand.  BY now, we had been in the process about 45 minutes.  Not bad.  After receiving our Sea Pass cards, we headed up the escalator to board the ship, being stopped 3 times along the way to show our Sea Pass cards (Like anyone could smuggle their way through to this point!!), we arrived at the first ship photo opportunity.  After so many cruises, we now just pass by and say no thanks.
                Entering the Voyager of the Seas on Deck 4 forward, near the La Scala Theater.  Due to a small outbreak of the Noro Virus on the previous sailing, The crew was spending a little extra time deep cleaning, so boarding time was delayed about an hour, which was another reason why we were boarding at the time as everyone else.  Cruise ship companies always say the health and safety of the passengers and crew are their first priority.  I really appreciate that!  Here are 2 banks of 3 elevators, port and starboard side.   Incredibly, we were immediately able to get aboard one elevator to take us to deck 9, where we stayed in an inside, wheel chair accessible stateroom (9557).  My mother joined us on this cruise.  As she uses a walker and a wheel chair, the accessible room was a necessity.  We were really happy with the oversized inside stateroom.  There is room enough to move around, and to store the wheel chair and walker.  OH!  The Walker!  We checked it with Royal Caribbean, who must have put it on the bottom of one of those large bins and threw 1,000 pounds of luggage on top of it.  When it was delivered to the stateroom, it was bent and Broken.  Note to anyone travelling with both modes of transportation.  Keep them with you.  Lucky, the broken support bar was not completely broken through, and the walker remained usable throughout the cruise.  The person at the Guest Services desk reimbursed my mother to get a new one.
                The Voyager of the Seas is a remarkable ship, even after 6 years since it emerged.  It has so many venues to keep you busy and entertained.  The La Scala Theater was the place we found ourselves almost every evening. We saw the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers perform 4 different times.  Glenn Smith, Las Vegas Dynamic Entertainer was amazing. Dan Grueter’s comedy had us rolling in the aisles, even though he picked on us Utah people, and Michigan, and Ohio, and newlywed’s. What fun.  And what a beautiful theater it is.  Honestly, the most beautiful I have ever seen.  This ship sports a regulation size ice skating rink in Studio B on deck 3.  We watched an awesome production Ice Skating show that was right out of the Olympics or Disney On Ice.  In Cleopatra’s needle, we watched a Jazz Cabaret Show performed by the Royal Caribbean Singers.  And the dance floor was there to be used by everyone.  A note here.  The Connoisseur Club is next door and Cigar smoke is very strong at the entrance and the back part of the theater.  Take seats up front to avoid the smoke if you don’t like it.
                The most fabulous, and innovative at the time, is the Royal Promenade. 
Located on deck 5 down the middle of the ship from forward to aft elevators, this area is full of life at almost all times of the day and night.  Enjoy some Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream.  Take in a slice of Pizza, a cookie, or a sandwich at Café Promenade.  Shop til you drop at all the shops the ship has to offer.  Enjoy a live football game at the sports bar.  If you need any assistance, Guest Services and the Shore Excursion desk are here too.  This area is wide open and airy, being 5 stories tall and also sports windows from inside cabins that have windows overlooking the promenade.  I often wondered just how quiet those rooms are with an entertainer playing a loud guitar in the Pig and Whistle Pub right below.  I would love to hear from anyone on this.  There are a lot of other places to visit, so check out the inside of the ship.  Don’t miss out on staring at the $8.5M worth of art that is on permanent display onboard the Voyager of the Seas.  Most of it Roman and Greek in origin.
                Outside, you can enjoy so many things, you will never be board.  When I visited the rear of deck 13 and 14, I was amazed to find the basketball court in full swing.  Not a full court game of hoops, but half court game, with the other half being used as a soccer game.  I have never seen this on any ship I have ever been on.  
And the other times I went back there, it was still being used.  It’s not just the basketball court, but also the table tennis tables, the 9 hole miniature golf course, the inline skate track, and OH, the Rock Climbing wall.  I climbed that wall twice.  Cool!  Back here is also a children’s play pool area.  Deck 11 sports 2 salt pools and 6 hot tubs, which are often the center of all the outside activities.  On day 6, ribs were barbequed and served pool side with lots of music and deck chairs for sun worshipping.  As is typical, there is an adults only area that also has a salt pool and 2 large hot tubs, in a quiet area with 6 famous Greek gods and generals watching over the area.
                If you want to stay fit while cruising, the Ship Shape fitness center on deck 11 forward is very large, with lots and lots of treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bicycles, and free weights. Use of a sauna and steam room are available here.  Or simply plop into a hot tub here too.  This is the best fitness center ever!  Up on deck 12, there is a running track that you can run a mile after 5 laps.  Barbi and I mostly prefer to take the stairs whenever we move from deck to deck to get our exercise.
                Food is an important part of cruising.  There are 3 main dining rooms on decks 3, 4, and 5 aft.
  The Garden Café on Deck 11 is the ever popular buffet.  Café Promenade as I mentioned earlier, or room service.  For specialty dining, try Johnny Rockets on deck 12 for a old fashioned burger and fries. Eat all you want for $4.95 each.  Their famous malt shakes are extra, but for returning Crown and Anchor members, your coupon book will have a 2 for 1 in it.  Use it.  Portofino  next to the Garden Café on Deck 11, is the specialty Italian restaurant for $20 per person.  My biggest complaint here is that the Garden Café closes at 9pm.  If you want a real meal after 9 pm, it’ll either be Johnny Rockets (Open to midnight) or room service (A $3.95 fee applies between midnight and 5am).  Café Promenade is open 24 hours, but it is light snacks…unless you want to eat your fill of Pizza.
                Overall, I really enjoyed my time on the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas.  Our stateroom was excellent.  Our cabin steward (Pedro) was effective and took care of our room when we were not there.  Our waiters, Made and Artem, in the Carmen Room, were awesome and attentive.  The Roast Lamb was the best I ever had.  My very favorite spot on the ship? 
High Notes Lounge, Deck 14 in the Viking Crown.  OMH!  The best view of any ship I have ever been on, that is inside.  Another favorite…access to the very front of the ship at all times for that “King of the World” moment.
                Wishes for improvement.  
·         WiFi available in all staterooms (This should happen in dry dock next year).
·         The Garden Café open 24 hours
·         There is supposed to be 1 heated pool.  I could not find it.  Make that happen with fresh water instead of salt.
·         Passenger use laundramat, for the self serving passenger.

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