Cruise Review; Voyager of the Seas

This week, I was lucky enough to have the chance to experience Voyager of the Seas, the Royal Caribbean ship that’s come to Australia for her second season. It’s also her first season here, since her mega refurbishment, with enhancements to cabins, bars, restaurants and more. I had been on her before the refurbishment, so I loved discovering the differences.

A view of Voyager of the Seas

A view of Voyager of the Seas

Some of the highlights are

  1. her new claim to fame, ‘FlowRider’, the surf simulator on deck 13
  2. their brand new inside cabins with a virtual balcony and
  3. the new specialty dining restaurants including Chops Grille and Giovanni’s Table.Voyager of the Seas is also the ship with its own ice skating rink for performances by world class skaters!

Top reasons why I love Voyager of the Seas

  • She’s big but not too big – offers a great variety for the longer cruises but she’s still a size that makes it reasonable to get around to discover all that the ship has to offer
  • ‘Sapphire’ the impressive 3 storey a la carte dining room with quality menus, changing every night
  • The ‘Windjammer’ buffet restaurant is a modern décor with a variety of choices including good healthy selections
  • For something different, ‘FlowRider’, the rock climbing wall and a mini golf course, are fun and something a lot of us may never try at home; definitely not just for the kids
  • The Promenade – it’s the main arcade through the centre of the ship with shops plus Café Promenade and The Pig & Whistle, an English style pub theme
  • The adult only retreat ‘Solarium’ with a pool and jaccuzzis
  • There’s a variety of drinking holes including, Schooner Bar, The Pig & Whistle and R Bar
  • An impressive state-of-the art fitness centre.

I could go on…….

THE TRIP
A one night sampler from Sydney, out to sea and back the next morning. I had the entire afternoon and evening on board.

THE SHIP
Voyager of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Gross

Tonnage 138,000
Length 1020 ft
Max Beam 157.5 ft
Draft 29 ft
Cruising Speed 22 knots
Cabin Total 1557
Passenger Capacity At double occupancy 3114

MY CABIN REVIEW
Ocean view balcony cabin, category E1. I was in cabin 6592 on deck 6. This category also has cabins on deck 7 and 8. There’s a higher category, D. The difference is more cabin space, otherwise the cabins are comparable in their fit out.

My balcony cabin, category E1 on Voyager of the Seas

My balcony cabin, category E1 on Voyager of the Seas

It was seemingly spacious, including the balcony that was a good size, fitting a small round table and two balcony chairs. The size quoted on their website is stateroom size: 8’X20’4″ and balcony size: 47 sq. Storage is good; two sets of cabin draws, small cupboards above the desk area, a good quantity of clothes hangers in the cupboard plus more shelf racks in the cupboard.

The bathroom also has cupboards and an under bench storage area for larger items. In regards to minor detail, I liked that the shower had a sliding door, rather than a curtains. I’ve never had any luck with showers on ships that have curtains as I’ve always managed to drench the floor when taking a shower. It was good not to worry about this.

Desk and drawer space, category E1 balcony cabin, Voyager of the Seas

Desk and drawer space, category E1 balcony cabin, Voyager of the Seas

Each stateroom has a safety deposit box, tv, kettle and a small selection of teabags plus a mini bar fridge.

TIP: your cabin attendant will store your main luggage bag under the bed (given it fits). It’s a great place to keep your bag out of your way and keep the clear, to leave more floor space. There’s enough space to unpack so I recommend doing this and stowing your main luggage away. The beds was of reasonable comfort. However, it doesn’t rate as well as a 4 or 5 star hotel bed.

YOUR LUGGAGE

  1. At the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Sydney, your checked luggage is dropped off prior to the check-in process.
  2. Look out for the designated area. For my cruises, it’s always been on the south side of the terminal, ground level.
  3. Remember to print out the paper luggage tag that’s issued with your e-documents. It must be affixed to your luggage prior to checking in your luggage.

TIP: you will need tape or staplers to attach the tag to your luggage.

CHECK-IN PROCEDURE
Once you’ve booked your cruise, a link to the online check in procedure is available. I strongly recommend taking this option to check-in online. It removes the lengthy process at the check-in counter if you have not checked-in online. Once you’ve completed the process, the final step is to print your ‘Set Sail Pass’. This is the equivalent of a boarding pass.

TIP:  Once you are within 3 days prior to sailing you can longer check-in online. Also, if there are 2 people in the booking, both travellers in the booking must complete the check-in process before either person can print their Set Sail Pass.

At check-in at the terminal, you must have in hand your Set Sail Pass, passport and the credit card you used at the time of completing the check-in. They will need to sight this credit card for verification.

Staggered Ship Check-in Times, Sydney
The ship has staggered check in times which are determined by deck level. The higher the deck, the earlier the check in and so on. Once you have your cruise documents take note of the check in time that relates to your deck level of your cabin on the ship. In the past, I’ve seen it stated on about page 4 under the heading ‘Embarkation’.

ENTERTAINMENT
Every night and through the day you can find entertainment and activities on board. Each evening the ship has a show in their main theatre, La Scala plus there will be skating performances in Studio B and other events around the ship, including shows by the entertainment crew along the Promenade.

TIP: Read the daily newsletter ‘Cruise Compass’ that gets delivered to your cabin at the end of each evening. It’s got all the details of the on board activities for the next day. Also, you can usually get an advance copy from the Purser’s Desk around 7 or 8pm each evening.

ONBOARD DINING EXPERIENCE
With just a day and a night on board, unfortunately I couldn’t sample it all. Dinner was at Sapphire, the main dining room and I took breakfast in the Windjammer buffet restaurant. It was a similar experience to my other cruises with Royal Caribbean; a high standard with quality produce.

My meal choice, Surf & Turf @ Sapphire

My meal choice, Surf & Turf @ Sapphire

Chops Grille, Specialty dining restaurant on board Voyager of the Seas

Chops Grille, Specialty dining restaurant on board Voyager of the Seas

I also sampled a scrumptious red velvet cake from Chops Grille, another speciality restaurant that’s a new addition since the refurbishment.

THE SERVICE
The service was very good during my one night cruise experience. We had the most delightful waiters for our table. They were very personable and attentive. I’ve also cruised with Royal Caribbean four other times prior, and I’ve always found the service standard to be very good.

ABOUT DISEMBARKATION
The ship has this down pat. On my overnight cruise it was even easier than a regular cruise as everyone just had carry-on luggage and no checked luggage.

However in review of standard disembarkation, it’s easy. I’ve experienced this a few times on another Royal Caribbean ship, Rhapsody of the Seas. Your cabin attendant will delivery luggage tags for your bag to your cabin. The night prior to disembarkation you need to have your main luggage outside your cabin in the evening. Usually the time is by 10 or 11pm as a guide. Generally, disembarkation is early, between 7-9am at Sydney. You will be allotted times for disembarkation depending on your cabin location.

TIP: if you need to get off first thing to meet a flight, arrange this a few days prior at the Purser’s Desk.

ANSWERS TO SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Yes there are theme nights on board, but it’s more about the entertainment rather than the dress for passengers. Typical nights would be tropical, country, 70’s night etc. This is when the show is themed, as are the cruise ship entertainment crew. There’s no real need to dress in theme, unless you want.
  • There are a mix of casual, smart casual and formal dining evenings. On the format dining evenings, it’s perfectly acceptable for gents to wear business attire rather than black tie (ie, suit with tie)
  • Onboard expenses are all charged in USD
  • Drinks package can be purchased in advance on their website, once you log into your member account or on the first day the ship displays the drink packages options and you can sign up on board.
  • The ship is cashless; you use our sea pass card to charge expenses to your personal account
  • The power points are as per the USA – you need adapters if you have items that need changing with Australian adapters.
Guest services desk, Voyager of the Seas - book shore excursions here

Guest services desk, Voyager of the Seas – book shore excursions here


THE LOYALTY SCHEME
Royal Caribbean loyalty program is called Crown & Anchor Society. After your first cruise, you can sign up on their website to become a member. My particular favourite is that you get priority boarding at check-in. This is a big plus as an Australian cruiser departing from Sydney where the Overseas Passenger Terminal is somewhat lacking as a facility. If the queues are long, you simply head straight up to the front and look for the member check in area that fast tracks you through the process.

It’s one cruise point per night of sailing and double points if you purchase a suite. Once you have 30 cruise points you move from the first tier, Gold to the next tier, Platinum. In total, there are 6 tiers to their loyalty program. Click here to link to the run down on the tiers You can find out more about the member benefits on their website.

CRUISE ITINERARIES
Voyager of the Seas has New Zealand and South Pacific cruise itineraries this season and the next. Her season commences from Sydney in October across the summer. Her final cruises are March for 2014-15 season and April for the 2015-16 season.

Departing from Sydney, there’s anything from 3 night samplers, a 7 night domestic cruise for their 2015-2015 season, South Pacific and New Zealand cruise itineraries.

THE VERDICT
It’s got all round appeal. From solo travellers, couples and families, and all generations there’s something for everyone. I rate her as a solid 4.5 star experience. Would I cruise again on her? Yes.

For solo traveller tips, check out my book, The Solo Traveller’s Compass, How To Travel Solo But Not Alone

 

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Important: The book, The Solo Traveller's Compass includes information, advice and opinions which are general in nature and can only serve as a guide. Readers should consider their individual circumstances and do their own research for their travel destinations. All travellers should be aware that even if well informed, your personal safety cannot be guaranteed when you travel..

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