Voyager of the Seas
September 23rd, 2005
We’re both 50 and this was our 16th cruise, 9th with RCCI. We always fly to the port a day ahead, but this cruise sailed from Cape Liberty, NJ, and was within driving distance from home. Leaving a day early was unnecessary. We left home about 7:30 AM for the ride to Cape Liberty, only 3 hours away. This was one of the easiest cruises we’ve ever embarked on. In fact ,we sailed the same Voyager cruise last September. RCCI provides good directions to the port where there is easy and affordable ($12 / day) parking. In fact parking is so close to the terminal that we parked and pulled our luggage. We quickly checked in around 11am and waited in the separate area that is for Diamond and Platinum members. We didn’t see the other waiting area, so can’t compare. Cookies and water were available if you wanted.

Day 1, Friday - Port Liberty
At 11:40 the shuttles for the Diamond and Platinum members showed up and allowed us on for the short ride to the ship. You are not supposed to go to your cabin until 1pm, but we always go anyway just to drop off our carry ons before going to the Windjammer for lunch.  The elevators on deck 1 where you embark had many people waiting so I simply hiked up the 6 flights carrying my carry ons. No big deal as we do stairs more often than not. No problem as the corridors on deck 6 were open and we went straight to our cabin on the hump (6318). Our cabin was ready. We walked in and there was a bottle of White Zinfandel chilling on ice. We booked with iCruise this time (the last time with that place since I‘m a Cruise TA now) because of a substantial discount for using their MBNA credit card. We only ended up paying $939 total for our balcony cabin when we included the MBNA reward and a few other coupons and discounts that I managed to get. iCruise said we didn’t pay enough for our cabin to get their “gift” and we were not to get one. But there was the wine and we continued to get a bottle every day for 9 days. We didn’t send any back.
By now we were quite hungry, so on to the Windjammer for lunch. While waiting for the doors to open, we noticed a sign advertising the Murder Mystery for the first night only. $49pp. We’ve noticed on previous RCCI sailings that the Windjammer has really cut back from say 5 years ago. Seems to get worse all the time and this cruise was no exception. It was basically the same last  year. My wife had the potato leek soup which she thought was quite good. I settled for roast beef from the carving station. One good thing about the Windjammer is that you can sit down after getting your food and someone will ask you what you’d like to drink. Your free beverage choices are lemonade and iced tea. Soda and bottled water are also available for purchase.
After eating we went to our cabin and changed for a hot tub visit, our custom on the first day of our cruise vacations. My wife’s back had been bad for quite some time now, so this was a very anticipated visit. We always go the first day because there is never a crowd. We were not disappointed. At 12:45, the place was absolutely empty. Decided to call my sister at work and rub it in a little, LOL. After the hot tub, I napped for a couple hours while my wife read and used the hot tub some more.  Back to our cabin at 3:45 and were pleased to see our luggage had arrived. We unpacked and then headed  to the mandatory muster drill at 4:30. We sailed right on time at 5 and watched form our balcony as we went under the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge. It’s quite a sight as the clearance is only a few feet. We went to main seating dinner at 6 in the Magic Flute Dining Room where we saw lots of shorts. It now seems to be very popular with many, whether or not luggage has come. We never do this! We sat with a very nice family of 5 and 1 other couple. Unfortunately the family came to dinner 10-20 minutes late all but 2 times out of 9 nights. Other than delaying us and the other tables served by our waiter, they were pleasant to dine with. The menus are new now and have some new choices. I had the prime rib and my wife had the cod. No complaints at all. Very good.
After dinner we went to the 9pm show where our cruise director Allan Brooks was in charge. We found him to be excellent throughout the cruise as he did not “hide” as some others have done in the past. The comedian Jim David was just ok.

Day 2 Saturday - At Sea
Went to the Windjammer for breakfast and nothing has changed. We expected nothing new so we were not terribly disappointed. Just the usual as in the past. I did like the bacon on this cruise. They didn’t overcook it as has always been the case on all of my other cruises. Afterwards, we went to the solarium and found a couple lounges close to the hot tub. In fact they were right across from 2 other lounges that had neatly placed towels on them, but no people. They showed up about 11 o’clock, 2 hours later. Wish I had thought to replace their dry towels with our wet ones. Next time maybe. For lunch we headed for Johnny Rockets. Being Platinum members, we each received a coupon for the $3.95 admission charge. The only other charge there is for beverages. You can eat all you want. There was almost no one there because of the new charge, a pleasant surprise. After lunch we headed for some outdoor lounging by the pool band. The weather was fantastic as it was not too hot to be out in the sun. The water in the ship’s pool was really rough and eventually had to be closed as the band was getting wet. The ship did not seem to be getting bounced around all that much today. Come to find later this was the roughest day on the cruise. Most of the rest were quite calm.
Tonight is formal night and we dressed up and headed for dinner. We brought 2 of our free bottles of wine to share with the table and it did not go to waste. We enjoyed escargot, shrimp cocktails, beef filet, and duck. Absolutely delicious!!! For desert we had the Grand Marnier Soufflé. No complaints here about dinner.
The show tonight was “Broadway Rhythm & Rhyme”. All 3 productions shows were for the most part the same on this cruise, but I didn’t think they were as good as last year. The dancers and singers were almost all different. The singers, in my opinion were not as good as we’ve seen in the past. The first of 3 karaoke idle tryouts was tonight. There were a few that obviously knew what they were doing and really put on a show for us. On to late night adult comedy which was just ok again.

Day 3 Sunday - At Sea
Up this morning around 8 and to the windjammer for breakfast and the usual selections. After that we headed to the solarium and the hot tub. Can’t beat an at sea day where all you need to worry about is……… nothing. We got lunch in the windjammer and brought it back to our seats in the solarium. Stayed till 4, then to our cabin to get ready for tonight’s repeaters party at 5:15. I had a couple whiskey sours and my wife had a couple Chambord Champagne Cocktails. At dinner, I ordered the sirloin which was ok, while my wife had the Vegetarian Pan Thai with peanut sauce. She thought it was quite good.
Dominick Allen was tonight’s Celebrity Showtime. We saw him last year on this cruise, so we skipped tonight. At 10:30 tonight  was “The Quest”. If you’ve never seen it played, be sure you don’t miss it on your cruise. It’s always good. Over the years it’s evolved into a very adult event on the ship. Tonight was VERY adult. Even though this is specifically stated, someone from Australia (found out this later) decided to bring their around 7 year old to the show and sat right in the front row. It was really very inappropriate. Some of the things that happened were just unbelievable. Mom and son just smiled all the way through it. Years ago, my team almost won this. I would never participate again. Too raunchy but lots of fun to watch. Retired around midnight.

Day 4 Labadee
We anchored in beautiful Labadee around 8 and were on the second tender to the dock. We were on our favorite beach there called Hideaway around 8:40. Got our pick of huts to hide out under for the day. The water was the warmest I ever remember. Had to be 90. We stayed until 3PM. It was a great beach day. Back on the ship, we showered and then went to see the Loyal Ambassador. Booked the Explorer for next September, our 30th wedding anniversary. A balcony bump cabin of course. Can’t wait! At dinner we both got the lamb shanks. Yuck! Sent them back and got the tiger shrimp which was very good.
At 9 was another one of the weeks production shows, “Vibe*ology”. Just OK. We’ve seen the same show on other cruises .Went to Majority Rules and then Karaoke. 

Day 5 Ocho Rios, Jamaica
We arrived at Ocho Rios, Jamaica around 9 AM and docked. A new pier has been built since we were there a few years ago. Some of the shopping is in easy walking distance of the ship now. It’s in the 90’s here today so we decided to try out Margaritaville located in Island Village Shopping as we read that there was a beach there. We were not impressed at all. The price was right compared to other places with admission of $5pp including a lounge chair. They describe it saying beautiful ocean views from the beach. Not really! No one bothers you here as there are security guards walking the small beach keeping the venders from coming up on the beach. They were allowed as long as they stayed in the water. Here you can also rent paddle boats and kayaks. Docked at the old pier was the Caribbean Princess I believe. It’s a good beach for small kids as it’s easy to keep an eye on them. There is also a water trampoline here. We only stayed a couple hours and headed back to the ship. Ate lunch and came back for shopping. Should have not bothered as the shops all sell mostly the same stuff ranging from the usual t shirts, jewelry, and Jamaican crafts. Didn’t  waste too much time and headed back to the Voyager for a much anticipated hot tub visit. We used one of the hot tubs outside and realized that this one had a sign saying “adults with children”. New to me. We left quickly after being invaded.
At dinner tonight, I opted for the veal parm which was ok, and my wife had the penne pasta which she thought was quite good.
The headliner showtime tonight at 9PM featured El Gaucho, the South American Cowboy. We had seen his show on a past cruise many years ago and remember enjoying it. We encouraged the 16 year old at our table to go. He has long hair and since we knew El Gaucho  included someone from the audience with lots of hair, we thought that he might have been picked to go on stage. His act includes banging on drums, playing piano, and flings balls around on ropes while cracking jokes the whole time. The audience seemed to like him as much as us. Now came the time when El Gaucho comes down in the audience to select his participant. He walked up the other side of the showroom looking for the perfect victim, er volunteer. Didn’t find  one there. He now walked up our side and looked over everybody. He went by us and was really seaming to have a hard time (older crowd -no hair). Then he says “Oh wait a minute. I saw someone down here that I can use”. Walked by us down the isle and turns around and looks at us. Asks my wife’s name then mine. He asks my occupation and I quietly say to my wife “I’m dead!” He asks if he can call me Jose’ and if I’ll help him. So I’m up on stage on front of a thousand people. It really is hot up there, especially to me! He had me sitting in a chair while flinging those ball things around me. At the high point, he says don’t move. I’m thinking NO Problem! The ropes were going by my head so close that the ropes were hitting and lifting up my hair. Will never forget it. Throughout the rest of the cruise, I had many compliments on my “bravery”.
After the show we stayed in our seats waiting for the “Love and Marriage Show”. It’s always a hit and not to be missed. Tonight was no exception. After that, there was dancing under the stars up top outside and more food. Lots of people and great weather for it. Retired at 1:30AM.

Day 6  Grand Cayman
Unfortunately here you have to tender. It’s not really that big of a deal. You can get off and on every few minutes without too much trouble. Today there are 3 other ships in port and it’s really crowded. We just grabbed a waiting cab for the $5pp ride to 7 mile beach. We walked away from the crowds and found a section of beach where I dug my wife a custom lounge out of the sand. It was easy digging in the loose sand and was done in 5 minutes.  She found it quite comfortable actually. Better than laying on a flat beach. It was sunny when we got there, but intermittent downpours made it a shortened day as we went back to the ship around noon. The island is in the midst of rebuilding after the devastating hurricane that hit last summer. There is construction everywhere you can see. It will most likely take quite some time for the island to get back to normal.
At dinner nothing jumped out at me so I ordered the always available sirloin and my wife had the salmon. Both very good.
Tonight’s headliner was a magic show featuring “Laraf”. They put on a very good show and performed an illusion that you wouldn’t believe in the middle of the audience. Excellent!

Day7 At Sea
Woke to a beautiful sunny day. Headed for the windjammer for breakfast, then went out and just relaxed for the day reading and listening to the band.  Ate in the windjammer for lunch. The Snapper and Raspberry Almond Cake were good.
Formal dinner tonight. My suit seemed to be somewhat tight. I’m sure it shrunk when I had it cleaned. Our tables’ head waiter earned points tonight. We brought wine from our cabin and although it was in the fridge, it was hardly cold at all. Our head waiter, Sabastiano took the 2 bottles we brought  and replaced them with really cold ones. Very nice. Had the crab cake appetizer, lamb, and chocolate mousse for desert. Yum!!! Immediately after dinner was the Crown and Anchor reception for Platinum and Diamond members. Listened to the Liza Hendrix band there. Very good. Thought it was a dumb idea to have the reception at this time. Were certainly not hungry for the good appetizers that they served, but we did drink their cocktails.
The last Royal Caribbean Production Show, “Dreamscape” is tonight. Saw that and then to the last karaoke show of the cruise and more good performers did their thing. The gala buffet was tonight but we completely forgot about it. Geez!

Day 8 Freeport
Well if you read reviews, many people will say they don’t even get off the ship here. I disagree. We headed to where the nice beaches are at Port Lucaya by taxi ($5pp). There is shopping on one side of the street and lots of hotels on the other where you are able to access the beach. Unfortunately the weather changed drastically on this side of the island. We left the ship in the sun and found pouring rain 15 minutes later  at Port Lucaya. It never let up at all so after an hour or so we gave up and went back to the ship where the sun was still out. We walked around the little shops outside on the pier area and then went back on the ship. I would not hesitate booking a cruise that stops here. No, the pier isn’t the nicest looking, but the taxi drivers and venders are very friendly and once you get away to Port Lucaya, the view is better. The resorts are there.
We ate our lunch and sat out the rest of the day near the band. Dinner tonight is lobster tails. I also opted for the prime rib. The sugar free berry tart and desert sampler were also good. Not hungry after that dinner. This ship featured an all new ice show called “Ice Odyssey”. This took place at 10PM and we were not disappointed. The skaters were all excellent. Saw late night comedy and then retired for the evening.

Day 9 At Sea
Ate breakfast and were by the hot tub by 8:15. The weather is changing as we head north. It’s a little cloudier and very breezy. We never had a problem finding a lounge at any time on this cruise. I believe it was probably to the very large senior crowd. Most Royal Caribbean cruises that we’ve been on probably averaged in the mid to late 40’s in age. This cruise had a much older average age and I’m not sure why. It was not like this last year at this time. I didn’t see any senior specials.
Our last dinner tonight and we were hungry. My wife had the Mahi Mahi and I had the strip steak. Both were very good. After dinner  we packed our suit cases and got them out in the hall. The show tonight featured a comedian who was ok and then to the karaoke finale. My wife had her last Love Connection of the cruise (the DRINK) and we headed for the sack.

Day 10 Bayonne, NJ
The last day is just absolutely no fun. We hate it. Traveling home, although on this cruise it’s easier because we are driving, is depressing! Back under the bridge around 7:30 and docked at the pier at around 8. You are supposed to be out of your cabin by 8, but we stayed a little longer. We found that after the time you are supposed to be out, the announcements can’t be heard in the cabin anymore. Since we are Platinum members, we waited in the Magic Flute Dining Room to await or color to be called. Because of a dozen or so inconsiderate passengers who didn’t answer announcements to see guest relations or foreign citizens who did not report to immigration as instructed, we were held on the ship for at least an hour extra. Finally our color  was called and we were walking down the stairs and off the ship. On the shuttle to baggage claim and a short walk to our car. Took 20-30 minutes tops. Bayonne is one the best as long as you can handle your own luggage to your car.

Overall Opinion of the Cruise:
Positives:
Can’t beat not having to fly to get on a cruise ship
For a cruise ship that is around 6 years old, the Voyager is in great shape
The dining room food is much better with new menus
Drinks are very reasonable. I looked up my receipts from our Monarch cruise in 1995 and found the following:
Beer then $2.50, now $3.00
Frozen drinks then $3.75, now $4.75
Whisky Sour then $3.25, now $4.25

Negatives:
The windjammer food still needs improvement. More selections please, especially deserts.
Bar servers should never automatically serve you with a souvenir glass. They usually do and charge you for it. Just send it back.
The Crown and Anchor party should be scheduled at a better time.

Overall:
Another great cruise on Royal Caribbean!!!