Our nerve-fraying embarkation day at the Port of New Orleans aside, life onboard Royal Caribbean‘s 137,308-ton, 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas so far during this seven-day cruise has been relaxed and even dignified, the latter of which I wasn’t expecting.
QUICK OVERVIEW: Formal night in the dining room was like a black-tie wedding reception – everyone really looked fantastic (and I’m not just saying that to be kind!). Buffet lines have been orderly. Guests make small talk in the elevators and hold the doors for one another. Even the gal stumbling around the Royal Promenade shopping zone hugging a quarter-full bottle of wine to her chest was charming.
THE PEOPLE: Seems as if Southern hospitality is at work. After all, a fair number of the guests are from the Gulf States, which are well-positioned for them to drive to New Orleans to embark Voyager, the largest ship ever to homeport there. Whenever we sit down next to a couple, they’re open books, and share the most entertaining – and sometimes embarrassingly personal – stories. My husband comes from a rather conservative South American country, so I can tell he’s shocked by some of the stuff strangers are telling him — which, of course, makes it even more amusing.
“There’s no way we’re ordering room service this week,” I told him. “We’ll miss something good.”
THE CABIN: To be honest, it’s a bit sad hanging out in our stateroom, which is a bit worn around its end-of-the-last-century edges. Royal Caribbean has said it’s planning to upgrade a few of its ships, but Voyager is not one of them. A pity. Our balcony unit stateroom on Deck 8 could use, at least, a five-minute makeover – starting with the replacement of the well-trodden carpets, late ’90s-chic curtains in a two-shades-above-pastel tones, mismatched brass and stainless steel fixtures and teal-colored cabinet doors.
That being said, the stateroom is spotlessly clean, the bathroom just spacious enough to get what you gotta get done, and the beds are posh heaven to sleep on. We hear very little noise from other cabins, and no matter how chintzy the furniture on the balcony is, I’m just grateful to have such a spacious one.
THE FOOD: There are two dinner seatings in the three-level dining room, and the menus are nicely varied. The entrees have been satisfactory – not gourmet, but well put together and satisfying. If you’re feeling the meals a little bland, here’s a great tip I discovered on Night 2: Order the vegetarian selection. So far, the offerings have been impressive Indian fare. Many of the chefs on this ship come from India, so the dishes definitely have more deeply developed flavors than other entrees. Even a chicken curry on the lunch buffet was as good as I’d eat at a fine Indian restaurant back home.
“Tell the chef to make it hot – like he would at home for himself,” I told my waiter at dinner one night. He raised his eye brows with one of those “are you sure?” looks. I nodded. Clearly, like the conversations I’ve had over breakfast this week, I like my food spicy.
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