Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Voyager of the Seas
Ship: 392 out of 500
Accommodation: 141 out of 200
Food: 222 out of 400
Service: 267 out of 400
Entertainment: 75 out of 100
Cruise: 268 out of 400
Overall Score: 1365 out of 2000
Voyager of the Seas Statistics
Size: Large Resort Ship
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9161716
Builder: Kvaerner Masa-Yards (Finland)
Original Cost: $500 million
Entered Service: Nov 1999
Length (ft/m): 1,020.6/311.1
Beam (ft/m): 155.5/47.4
Draft (ft/m): 28.8/8.8
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (28,000kW)/ 2 azimuthing pods
Passenger Decks: 14
Total Crew: 1,176
Passengers (lower beds): 3,114
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 44.0
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.6
Cabins (total): 1,557
Size Range (sq ft/m): 151.0-1,358.0/14.0-126.1
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 757
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 26
Wheelchair accessibility: Best
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 3
Hot Tubs (on deck): 6
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
This large, family-friendly ship has many eating venue choices
Overview. In terms of sheer size, this ship presently dwarfs many others in the cruise industry, but in terms of personal service, the reverse is the case, unless you happen to reside in one of the top suites. This is impersonal city life at sea (it even has its own zip code, 33132-2028).
The Ship. The ship’s exterior design is like an enlarged version of the company’s Vision-class ships. With its larger proportions, it provides more facilities and options, yet manages to have a healthy passenger/space ratio.
Embarkation and disembarkation take place through two access points, designed to minimize the inevitable lines at the start and end of the cruise - more than 1,500 people for each access point. A four-deck-high Royal Promenade, the interior focal point, is a good place to arrange to meet someone. It is 394ft (120m) long - the length of two American football fields - with two internal lobbies that rise through 11 decks, one at each end. There are four banks of elevators.
The entrance to one of three levels of the main restaurant, together with shops and entertainment locations are spun off from this ‘boulevard,’ while ‘interior promenade-view’ cabins, with bay windows, look into it from above. It houses a traditional English pub (the Pig ’n’ Whistle, with draft beer and street-front seating), a Promenade Café (for Continental breakfast, all-day pizzas, sandwiches, and coffees), Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (at extra cost), Sprinkles (for round-the-clock ice-cream and yoghurt), and Scoreboard (a sports bar).
Several shops complete the picture: a jewelry shop, gift shop, perfume shop, liquor shop, and a logo souvenir shop. A bright red telephone kiosk houses an ATM cash machine. It’s a nice place to see and be seen, and street performers provide an entertaining diversion. It really is a cross between a shopping arcade and an amusement park - Florida’s Aventura meets New York’s Coney Island. The chairman of Royal Caribbean International (RCI) even donated his own treasured Morgan sports car to grace the Royal Promenade, which is supposedly designed in the image of London’s fashionable Burlington Arcade. Actually, the best view of the whole promenade is from one of the cabins that look into it, or from a ‘captain’s bridge’ that crosses above it.
At the forward end is the showlounge. A Connoisseur’s Club cigar lounge is on the starboard side between the showlounge and the main section of the promenade.
In the center a stairway connects you to the deck below, for the Schooner Bar (a piano lounge that’s a feature of all RCI ships) and the colorful Casino Royale (large and full of flashing lights and sounds). Gaming includes blackjack, Caribbean stud poker, and craps, and around 300 slot machines.
A second showlounge - Studio B, a regulation-size ice-skating rink that has real, not fake, ice - has arena seating for up to 900 and broadcast facilities. A number of slim pillars obstruct the clear-view arena stage sight lines, however. If ice-skating in the Caribbean doesn’t particularly appeal, you might like to visit the neat two-deck library; it was the first aboard any modern cruise ship, and is open 24 hours a day.
Drinking places include a neat Aquarium Bar, with 50 tons of glass and water in four large aquariums worth over $1 million; the small and intimate 52-seat Champagne Bar; and the Connoisseur Club - for cigars and cognacs. Jazz fans might appreciate High Notes, an intimate room for cool music atop the ship within the Viking Crown Lounge, or the Schooner Bar piano lounge. For golfers, there’s the 19th Hole, a golf bar.
A large TV studio, part of Studio B, is adjacent to rooms that can be used for trade show exhibit space, with a 400-seat conference center and a 60-seat multimedia screening room. Many decks above, couples can tie the knot in a ‘wedding chapel in the sky,’ the Skylight Chapel, which is located on the upper level of the Viking Crown Lounge and even has wheelchair access via an electric stairway elevator. Outdoors, the pool and open deck areas on Deck 11 provide a resort-like environment.
Although the ship is large, the cabin hallways have a warm and attractive feel, with artwork cabinets and wavy lines that lead you along and break up the monotony.
Expect lines at the reception desk, elevators, particularly at peak meal times, as well as for embarkation and disembarkation. The theme-park, banquet-style regimentation is well organized, and excellent value for money for families with children. You will, however, need to plan, otherwise you’ll miss out on some of the things that you might like to include in your vacation.
Because the cruise fares are so reasonable, there’s always a push for extra-revenue items, drinks packages, extra-cost dining options, etc. In the end, however, you should have a decent cruise vacation. Note that in 2014, Voyager of the Seas underwent refurbishment in order to be ‘Australianized’ for the ship’s Australia 2014/5 season.
Families. Facilities for children and teenagers are quite extensive. Aquanauts, is for ages 3-5. Explorers, is for ages 6-8, and Voyagers for 9-12s. Optix, a dedicated area for teenagers, includes a daytime club with computers, soda bar, disk jockey, and dance floor. Challenger’s Arcade has the latest video games. Virtual Submarine is a virtual reality underwater center for all ages. Computer Lab has 14 computer stations loaded with fun and games. Paint and Clay is an arts and crafts center for younger children. Adjacent to these indoor areas is Adventure Beach, an area for all the family: it includes swimming pools, a water slide, and game areas outdoors.
Accommodation. There is a range of cabin price grades, in four major groupings: premium ocean-view suites and cabins, interior (atrium-view) cabins, ocean-view cabins, and interior cabins. Many cabins are of a similar size - good for incentives and large groups - and 300 have interconnecting doors (good for families).
Some 138 interior cabins have bay windows that look into an interior horizontal atrium - a cruise industry first when the ship debuted. Regardless of what cabin grade you choose, all except for the Royal Suite and Owner’s Suite have twin beds that convert to a queen-size unit, TV, radio and telephone, personal safe, vanity unit, hairdryer, and private bathroom. However, you’ll need to keep the curtains closed in the bay windows if you wear little clothing, because you can be seen easily from adjacent bay windows.
Royal Suite. At around 1,146 sq ft (107 sq m), the Royal Suite is the largest private living space. Nicely appointed, it is located almost at the top of the Centrum lobby on the port side. It has a king-size circular bed in a separate large bedroom that can be fully closed off; a living room with an additional queen-size sofa bed, baby grand piano, refrigerator/wet bar, dining table, four chairs, expansive entertainment center, and a reasonably large bathroom.
Royal Family Suite. The four Royal Family suites (two aft on Deck 9, two aft on Deck 8, each measuring around 574 sq ft/53 sq m) have two separate bedrooms. The main bedroom has a large vanity desk; the second, smaller bedroom also includes two beds and third/fourth upper Pullman berths. There’s a lounge with dining table and four chairs, wet bar, walk-in closet; and large bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, washbasin, and separate shower enclosure. The suites, aft, have large balconies with ocean views.
Owner’s Suites. Ten slightly smaller but desirable Owner’s Suites (around 468 sq ft/43 sq m) are in the center of the ship, adjacent to the Centrum lobby. Each has a bedroom with queen-size bed or twin beds; lounge with large sofa; wet bar; bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, washbasin and separate shower enclosure. There’s also a small private balcony.
Standard outside-view and interior cabins. All cabins have a private bathroom, as well as interactive TV and pay-per-view movies, including an X-rated channel. Cabin bathrooms are compact, but do have a proper shower enclosure instead of a shower curtain.
Some accommodation grades have a refrigerator/minibar, although there is no space left because it is crammed with ‘take-and-pay’ items. If you take anything from it on the day of embarkation in Miami, Florida, sales tax will be added to your bill.
Cabins with ‘private balconies’ aren’t so private. The balcony decking is made of Bolidt - a sort of rubberized sand, though the balcony rail is wood. If you have a cabin with a connecting door to another cabin, be aware that you’ll probably be able to hear everything your next-door neighbors say and do. The bathroom vacuum toilets are explosively noisy. Cabin bath towels are small and skimpy. Room service food menus are basic.
Dining. The main dining room is extremely large and set on three levels, each with an operatic name and theme: Carmen, La Bohème, and Magic Flute. A stunning staircase connects the three levels, but fat support pillars obstruct sight lines from many seats. All three have exactly the same menus and food. Choose one of two seatings, or My Time Dining which allows you to eat when you want during dining room hours. Tables are for four, six, eight, 10, or 12. The place settings, china, and cutlery are of good quality.
Other dining options. Portofino, the ship’s upscale Euro-Italian restaurant. It’s open for dinner only, reservations are required, and there’s a cover charge. The food and its presentation are better than the food in the dining room, although the restaurant isn’t large enough for all passengers to try even once during a cruise. Choices include antipasti, soup, salad, pasta, main dish, dessert, cheese, and coffee.
Windjammer Café: this is a really large, sprawling venue for casual buffet-style, self-help breakfast (this tends to be the busiest time of the day), lunch, and light dinners (but not on the last night of the cruise); it’s often difficult to find a table and by the time you do your food could be cold.
Island Grill: (actually this is a section within the Windjammer Café), for casual grilled meat and seafood items (no reservations necessary) featuring a grill and open kitchen.
Johnny Rockets: a retro 1950s all-day, all-night diner-style eatery that has hamburgers, malt shakes, and jukebox hits, with both indoor and outdoor seating. All indoor tables have a mini-jukebox with dimes provided for you to make your selection of vintage records, and there are all-singing, all-dancing waitresses. There’s a cover charge, whether you eat in or take out.
Promenade Café: for Continental breakfast, all-day pizzas, sandwiches, and coffees in paper cups.
Sprinkles: for round-the-clock ice cream and free yoghurt, pastries, and coffee.
Entertainment. The 1,347-seat La Scala Theater, a fine showlounge, is located at the front of the ship and spans the height of five decks, with only a few slim pillars and almost no disruption of sight lines from any seat. The room has a hydraulic orchestra pit and huge stage areas, together with rather loud sound, and superb lighting equipment.
In addition, the ship has an array of cabaret acts. Strongest cabaret acts are presented in the main showlounge, while others appear in the Cleopatra’s Needle Lounge (one deck higher), also the venue for late-night adults-only comedy. Arguably the best shows are the Ice Spectaculars.
There is also a TV studio that can be used for trade show exhibit space - good for conventions at sea.
Spa/Fitness. The Voyager Day Spa and Fitness Center is reasonably large, and measures 15,000 sq ft (1,400 sq m). It has a main and an upper level, and includes an aerobics room, fitness center (with stairmasters, treadmills, stationary bikes, weight machines, and free weights), several private body treatment rooms, and men’s and women’s sauna/steam rooms. Another 10,000 sq ft (930 sq m) of space is provided for a Solarium (with sliding glass-dome roof) to relax in after you’ve exercised.
Aft of the funnel is a 32.8ft (10m) rock-climbing wall, with five climbing tracks. Other sports facilities include a roller-blading track, a dive-and-snorkel shop (for equipment rental and dive lessons), a full-size basketball court, and a nine-hole, par 26 golf ‘course.’